Thursday, September 19, 2013

Now that I'm old


Last night it finally happened. I actually said “kids these days”. There it was, out there in the universe and I was unable to suck it back into my mouth. In my defense though, I had, what I thought, was a pretty good reason. There is a convenience store down the road from my house and my son called them to see if they were still open. So he calls them and he's standing at the foot of my bed and looks at me and says “Something's wrong with the phone. What does this mean? There's like a beep (pause) beep (pause) beep (pause) beep”. I looked at him not really believing he had asked that and said “Robin, honey, that's a busy signal”. He had no idea what I was talking about. Honestly. Didn't have a clue. I had to explain to him that back in the old days – 1991 – earth people would only have one phone in their home. During that dark age, if one person called the home of another person who happened to be on the phone, the caller would get that funny little beep which indicated the callee was already talking on the phone and the caller would need to try again later. My kids had never experienced a phone that didn't have call waiting up to that time! Kids these days!

A couple of weeks ago I was telling my daughter that she could not continue to take her cell phone into the bathtub with her because she has ruined her last 4 phones by texting on them while she showers. She looked at me, and with a serious face asked me if I had any idea how embarrassing it would be to tell someone she had to get off the phone so she could take a shower? Really. It is a faux pas to tell your friends “I have to chisel the phone out of my hand now so I can go practice good hygiene”. I tried really hard to look sympathetic, but I had a hard time stifling my laughter as I told her there was a point in time in my younger days that I had to not only say “I have to get off the phone now because I have to shower”; sometimes I even had to say “ I have to go now, because mom says I have to go to bed”. Yes, my children I had a bedtime. My therapist helped me through the scarring. The reason I had to tell my friends this was because there was one phone in the kitchen and one in the living-room and neither of them would have reached into the bathroom; even if it had one of those super long cords that was 10 feet long and would twist into innumerable knots. It would really horrify them to know that if I didn't get off the phone to come to dinner or go to bed or do whatever I had been told to do, my mother would pick up another phone in the house and tell me to do it in front of my friends. I'm not sure kids these days would believe a story like that anyhow.

I kind of feel sorry for kids these days when it comes to being on the phone. Remember how satisfying it was to get really pissed off and hang up on someone? You could whang the daylights out of a phone receiver and it kind of made you feel better. My mom would call me and tell me it was time to come home or I couldn't stay the night with a friend or I had been caught smoking at school again and we'd get in this big argument and I'd slam down that receiver BANG and hang up on my mother. That was what real power was all about, being able to shut your mother up with a slam and just walk away. Of course when you got home, she'd kill you, but we'll save that for another post. Anyway, it didn't matter who you got to hang up on, it was very fulfilling. But nowadays if you hang up on someone you must softly touch the screen or risk sticking your finger through it. At most you get to push that little button with the picture of the red phone on it to end your call. You simply cannot slam that button down or angrily tap your screen. It just doesn't work. So now, even if your mother calls you and tells you she is going to hack into your Facebook account, you have to be satisfied with yelling at her and then lightly tapping the 'end call' icon to disconnect the line. Not satisfying at all. Poor kids these days.

And while we're at it, we must not to forget to comment on what happens when the kid of today loses their phone or has to put the phone in for repairs since they insist on showering with it. My sweet baby girl needed a new phone at the end of August but the upgrade wouldn't be available until September. The day I'm talking about is August 27th. Being the uncaring and insensitive person that I am, I said “Oh, no problem babe, we'll just get you a new phone in a few days”. What I failed to grasp was that she cannot go without her phone for a few days. This isn't possible. I was a cad to even suggest such a thing. She went into hysterics. Literally, crying until her eyes got all red and swollen and she started hiccupping. How was she going to talk to her boyfriend? He doesn't live near here! She wouldn't be able to talk to him during his work breaks! She couldn't text her friend! Her friend would think she was mad at her! I started to say “Well, honey, when I was your age, if I had called my friend or gone over to her house and announced every time I had a yummy hot beverage, she would have thought I had some bizarre narcissism disorder and would have probably had her parents call mine”. Realizing this was not the time or place, I did not impart that little bit of information to my daughter. But this poor child had clearly developed a deep and committed attachment to this phone, and it was breaking her heart to think of not having this phone or any other for a grand total of maybe four days. There is a dependence on this machine comparable to that of a life support machine. She really believed she would die without it. I tried early on to curb this kind of phone dependence by insisting from the time my children got their first phones that there would be no phones during dinner. No texting, talking, nothing. They deal with it, but are clearly not comfortable with it. Four days though, was not going to happen. My poor child grabbed ice cream and crawled in bed in her Star Wars jammies and covered up and cried herself to sleep. I am not making this up. Finally her boyfriend gave her some tips to make her phone work until we could replace it. In four days.

Kids these days.