As I went for a walk one day last week, I stopped for a moment to look down at my hand. I realized that I was clutching my cell phone, just waiting for it to ring with news of a sick or hurt child that I would need to pick up from school. I wasn’t actually waiting for a phone call. Not consciously, anyway. But you can bet that if I didn’t have it with me, if I had left it at home or in the car, that’s all I would be thinking about.
I was a late-comer to the smart phone, and cell phones in general. I didn’t even get a cell phone until after I graduated from college and moved away from home. When I did get one, I used it primarily to call friends and family because long-distance calls were included in my calling plan. For local calling, I still used a regular old, hanging on the wall in the kitchen, (gasp!) house phone. Half the time, I didn’t even bring my cell phone with me when I went out.
As time went on, I began to use my cell phone more frequently and ultimately ditched the house phone. But I still only used it for (shockingly) phone calls! I was very anti-texting. I was terrible at it and it made no sense to me why in the world someone would sit there and type out a message on a phone keypad when they could much more easily press seven little numbers and just talk to the person.
Flash forward to today. I finally caved and bought my first smart phone a year and a half ago. I have to admit, it is handy to be able to stay connected while I’m out and about. If I’m waiting for a call or an email, I can still go about my daily routine without having sit in my house by the phone or computer.
I have also become more comfortable with texting. It took a while for me to see its appeal, but as a Mom, it’s become my primary form of communication. Mostly because any time I do find the time to call someone, my children take it as a signal to start fighting with each other, or suddenly have the urge to tell me everything about their day.
So I do use the phone for the traditional forms of communication, plus email, checking the weather, some social media, and the camera (holy crap, you can do a lot with a “phone”). But I’m not one of those people glued to the screen, oblivious to the world around me, constantly checking whatever it is people constantly check on their phones. Still, I’ve found that I cannot leave the house without it, especially when my kids aren’t with me.
I’m not sure what I think I’m going to need it for. I’m not flying across the country while they’re at school. I’m barely going across town. My kids almost never get sick, needing to come home early. To be honest, the only time I do get a call from the school, I’m usually expecting it because it’s most likely the day one of my kids said they didn’t feel well in the morning, but I sent them in anyway (I’m going for ‘Mom of the Year’ over here). In any case, even if I didn’t answer my phone, that’s what “emergency contacts” are for!
I rarely receive important phone calls when I have my cell phone on me. Any time it rings during the week, it’s usually just one of those scam telemarketers telling me I owe money to the IRS, or that I won a car, or that my computer has a virus on it and they need access to it to fix the problem. (Just to be clear, I don’t actually answer these calls; I just look them up online and read all the complaints of people who do answer the phone when they don’t recognize the number. Weirdos.)
In any case, I don’t know why I think my phone will start ringing off the hook as soon as I leave it behind. And I’d like to leave it behind. I can’t stand carrying the thing around. I tried getting a phone that wasn’t too big. One that I could easily fit in my pocket. I really did try. But in a world where people don’t seem to mind holding full-size computer screens up to their faces to make phone calls, it wasn’t easy. I actually could slip my phone in my pocket if it weren’t for the bulky, protective outer casing I had to buy for it since we apparently need to protect our phones as much as we protect our children.
It doesn’t make any sense. I lived my entire childhood with one phone that was hanging on the kitchen wall, and so did all of my contemporaries. In my house, we didn’t even have an answering machine or call waiting. My mother managed to leave the house, doing whatever needed to be done while my siblings and I were in school, and we’re all still alive. My parents would go out for the night without a cell phone, leaving us with a sitter, who also did not have a cell phone. We all survived. We all lived to tell the tale!
But here we all are, chained to these devices 24/7. And here I am, going for a walk with this monstrous thing clutched in a death grip, for some reason thinking that if I don’t bring it with me on a 30-minute walk, some cataclysmic event is going to occur that could all somehow have been avoided if I had just had the good sense to bring my phone.