Image source

I came across the meaning of “POS” in the instant messaging lingo in a reflective essay in our diocesan newspaper, in which a grandmother (who is also a friend of mine) was lamenting the change in the young people in her life now, as opposed to how they were ten or twenty years ago.

“Is it just me, or do others feel that our grandchildren are losing their youth and innocence to technology and our electronic gadget-driven world?” she writes. Then she continues, “I feel like an entire generation of young people are racing toward adulthood with the inability to sit down and enjoy a conversation in spoken words, rather their fingersconstantly fly across tiny keyboards, in what seems to be a new, and highly abbreviated language! Do you know what “POS” means?”

Well, I thought I did. In my younger days, it referred to that old beater car the high school guys had a tendency to drive. Later, in my spurt of retail work experience, it had all sorts of jargon-y connotations.

Turns out that it means “Parent Over Shoulder.”

I had to laugh.

And then I promptly forgot about it…until I was praying my rosary, squeezing it in between feeding the baby, getting a shower, and kicking off my morning in my usual hurry-here-hurry-there-juggle-it-all manner. I can’t remember the mystery I was on, but all of a sudden I thought of the Parents standing over my shoulder.

There’s Mary, smiling at my colorful mental narratives of the inevitable little dramas of the morning, even as I tried to focus on the life of Jesus through her perspective. There’s the Blessed Mother again, sympathizing with me as I groan to hear the baby up in the middle of the night…again. As I struggle through a circus act of a day, worthy of awards (at least in my mind), she’s right there, whispering encouragement and cheering me on.

She’s also there when I stumble and fail. She’s there when I give in to frustration and scream at the baby or the three-year-old or both. She’s there when I snap at an innocent person guilty of only wrong-place-wrong-time. She’s there when I judge, in the confines of my mind, the other person, though I can’t possibly know the full story or understand the full reasoning for their actions or words.

Over my shoulder, I also have a Heavenly Father. There’s Abba Father, propping me up in the middle of the night when I’m ready to strangle the inconsolable baby. He’s there when I need the strong arms and gentle stroking on my temple after a long day. He’s over my shoulder when I’m at my wits’ end and just need a little guidance from above.

He too sees my defeats, large and small. He hears my mouth utter those words of condemnation, of bad language, of judgment. He winces as I do everything but sit down and start kicking my feet in a full-blown tantrum.

There are also some others looking over my shoulder – a crowd of saints and angels. Some days, I need the consolation and wisdom they provide. When I’m at a complete loss, I turn to St. Therese, the Little Flower, or St. Faustina, who reminds me to trust in Jesus. When I’m scared or battling some great unknown, my guardian angel (and sometimes any angel within earshot!) gets a shout. “Just a few hours of consecutive sleep,” I’ve been known to beg, when I’m on the brink of collapse at 2 AM. “Keep them quiet for just a few hours and let me sleep GOOD.”

I don’t always get the answers I want. But I have no doubt that the parents (and friends!) over my shoulder are there, watching and listening, praying for me and supporting me. Maybe it’s supposed to be a BAD thing, this POS, but, for me, it’s a much-needed reminder that I’m NOT going through the challenges of this life alone!

(If you’d like to read the entire article, “Rambling Tween Thoughts,” you can click here (scroll down – it’s the second article on the page). If that link doesn’t work, look for November 9, 2008 on the sidebar.)