Sunday, April 12, 2009

Parenting with Subtitles

Photo by Gaetan Lee.

Our kids - our 12-year-old daughter especially - nagged us relentlessly to join the 21st Century.

"All the other parents have cell phones, " she reasoned. "Why can't we have cell phones, too?"

"We do have cell phones." I held up my pay-as-you-go phone to make my point.

Rebekah rolled her eyes, folded her arms across her chest, and heaved a sigh. In our house, that translates to, "Pay-as-you-go phones don't count as real cell phones. How many times do I have to tell you that?"

Although my initial reluctance was a financial one, we bit the bullet and got "real" cell phones when our son moved away to college and we spent his first semester dealing with dropped calls over a free internet service.

Two days after getting the phones, my husband and I went Christmas shopping. Soon, I heard what I can only describe as a bubbly, jingly sound coming from my coat pocket. I fished out my phone and pushed some buttons. My screen lit up, telling me I had a text message. My first one ever.

"Dennis, I got my first text!"

"Good for you, honey," he said as he looked over the kids' wish lists. "Who's it from?"

"It's Bekah. I wonder what she wants."

I pushed another button, and my incoming text appeared on the screen.

Hey, mom, since I have 12 dollars can I buy some songs on itunes?

I pulled my gloves off.

How many songs 43 you want to buy?

I saw my "43" mistake only as I pushed "send."

Lol. Still getting used to hitting the right buttons? XD lol anysho...Uh like
11...cuz that's how many 12$ can can I?

I sighed.

"What's wrong?" Dennis asked.

"This texting thing. I know LOL means Laugh out Loud, but what is this XD thing?"

Dennis took my phone and looked at the screen. "Maybe it's one of those sideways face things. Maybe with squinty eyes and laughing?" he guessed.

"Oh, I see it!" I entered my reply:

OK. Pay me when I get home.

I hit send, and Dennis and I continued our shopping. Two or three minutes later, I heard the now-familiar bubbly, jingle sound. "What does she want now?" I wondered out loud. "Unbelievable!" I said to Dennis.

"What now? Everything okay?" I showed him my phone screen:

Mom, any idea where my iPod is?

Dennis grinned.

"I can't even go shopping without having to stop what I'm doing to help someone look for something!" I punched my reply:


Thirty seconds later:

No ideas at all?



hey mom can we go to target when u get home?

I took off my coat. We'd been at the bookstore half an hour, and the only thing I'd accomplished was give permission to buy songs and reveal my inability to find iPods from a distance of seven miles away. I whipped out my phone for what I hoped would be my final text during our time out.

Dad and I are TRYING to shop. Do you suppose we could talk about this
when I get home?

A minute passed. Then the bubbly jingle.

Lol. Sry bout that mom! C u l8r, k? :oD

Dennis walked up to me, his hands full of books and movies from the kids' wish list. "Hey, you look like you could use a date with your husband. Let's get some coffee, ok?"

"LOL. K. And how about some ear plugs?"


Anonymous said...

Our kids don't get cell phones until they turn 16 (for that lifeline when driving) and we DON'T pay for texting. If my 16 year old sends or receives a text, she has to pay me a quarter for each one (that's what I'm charged by verizon). And guess what? She REALLY limits her texting! I hear all the time from my 14 year old how she is the ONLY person on the planet without a cell phone. oh well. Some things can just wait...
I'm in the 21st century, on MY terms! Heidi

Ralph said...

When I got my first text message it took two hours before I figure out how to read all of it.
The kids just hate it when they text me and I immediately call them to see what they wanted - but it has cut down the number of text messages I receive.

Heather Trent Beers said...

I think this is a brilliant move, Ralph. I think I will start doing the same with my daughter. :)