Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cellularly Yours

Live action in the garden. The revolution will not be cellular.

I sat on the picnic bench next to Beren. My cell phone itched in my pocket. Beren nibbled lunch. I glanced at the time on my phone about three times. 12:15 pm, 12:18 pm, 12:25 pm.

Why has I so agitated? Anyone who has tried to feed a curious, active toddler a full meal might be able to relate.

Jared and I have been wolfing meals down for about two years and ten months. A friend who raised several children, including twins, and is now a grandparent once quipped, "There is no sound a child dislikes more than the sound of a parent's fork scraping a plate."

Eating with a young child does sometimes feel as though a tractor trailer filled with jack-in-the-boxes jackknifed at the table. Jared and I have sometimes wondered aloud if we would ever have a peaceful meal again. We do often have pleasant meals, and watching Beren handle utensils with increasing skill charms both Jared and me.

And so, I'd say that speaking on the telephone peacefully is impossible, while eating a meal peacefully can and does happen. Let me show rather than tell:

Me: Hi, Mom. How are you?

My Mom: Good, hon? How are you?

Me: We're fine. [Din in background.] Today, I... wait a minute, Mom. Beren, can you...? Mom? [Din in background arrives at my feet.]

Mom: MMmmmmuph nnnummmnn.

Me: What Beren? You need what? Mom, I'm sorry, can you talk louder?

Mom: MNNUNUNMMMSSPPHH.

Me: Beren, can you wait? Mom, I'm going to have to call you back.

I hardly talk on the phone. Hardly. I almost never check email or the internet when Beren and I are alone together. I actually don't like him to see me staring at the computer, so I wait until he's asleep or with Jared. But, really, who am I kidding? Would I really be allowed to use the computer without Beren crawling up into my lap, tapping on the keyboard and causing the screen to do something I have never seen before?

Back to the picnic table at 12:26 pm in Rocky Hill one recent Wednesday. I wasn't agitated over a picky eater. Beren was eating nicely, as he often does. I wanted to make a call, and knew that I must not or Beren would become distracted and lose interest in the food.

The call I wanted to make was unimportant. I wanted to ask Jared: Would he be able to pick up spark plugs on his way home form work?

I could hardly contain myself. I don't even like talking on the phone. Jared and I are horrible at talking on the phone. Always were. Even as young lovebirds separated by several dozen blocks in New Brunswick.

This compulsion to "mark things off the list" and to check email/facebook/messages/etc., even though I don't really like to, is precisely why I am turning down an offer of a hand-me-down iPhone from my mother-in-law. I don't want to be chased by bings and beeps, nor do I want my child to be trained to respond to bings and beeps. To boot, the potential iPhone gift has one flaw - the ringer doesn't turn off.

While I'd like to talk to my Mom on the phone every so often without a concurrent din, I think that may have to wait until after Beren's bedtime. If not then, then at the playground while he plays? I would rather catch my child's eye and share a smile. Someday too soon, I expect that he'll be looking to others, his peers, to catch their eyes, and I hope that they won't all be glued to the smart phone.

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