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September 20, 2015

Cell phoneless grandparents

My parent refuse to get a cell phone.  It's basically my mom's stubbornness that prevents them from being accessible, and able to communicate with their 5 children and piles of grandchildren.  They aren't too old to learn the basic uses of a cellular phone.  Instead, I believe that my Mom likes to inform people that they don't have a phone.  So, I guess you could say it is a matter of pride.  It's also terribly inconvenient. 

It would be one thing if my folks enjoyed living an isolated lifestyle burrowed away in some distant mountain cabin, but that isn't the case.  They are up to their eyeballs in kids and grand kids.  My Dad likes to take kids to museums, baseball games, and Notre Dame games.  All awesome memory making activities, but traveling without a cell phone to these destinations might prove to be a safety issue for someone his age.  We were raised under the premise that we were a close knit family.  That is the image our family presents to the outside world.  Staying in touch has always been a central component of our big, Irish family.  (Of course, as a middle child I have my own perspective on this reality, but if you are a regular reader of my blog, then this isn't news to you).  It just so happens that the current form of staying in touch typically includes subscribing to a cell service.

Coach and I were most likely the last two adults on the planet to invest in smart phones.  Prior to that huge technological leap, we managed with pay-as-you-go phones.  It was an exercise in frustration.  I hoped my cell wouldn't ring because I could run out of minutes at any time.  Why did the rest of the population insist on sending wasteful, unit-devouring, pointless texts like 'OK'?  I'm really not someone who is constantly on my device, but with 6 kids I must admit it helps me keep track of everyone while on the go. 

Of course, Coach and I don't allow the kids their own phone until the day before they begin high school.  My thoughts and opinions on kids and teens with access to phones is most likely going to set me on a 10 page tyrant, so suffice it to say:  I am totally opposed to kids with phones!  I see very little good coming from it.  As long as we are on the subject, why the hell can't adults limit their teens abuse of these handy communication devices?  Oh, don't get me started!

Grandparents who offer to pick grand kids up from events or practices could perhaps use the phone to COMMUNICATE.  For instance, late this afternoon Eddie failed to locate my Mom, who was his ride home.  I explained that I told her to pick him up at the same spot I go to after practice.  He pointed out that I hadn't picked him up at practice in 'forever'.  Being the cruel, ruthless parents that we are, we insist that Eddie wait for Laddie to finish football practice so they can drive home together.  I see no point in making a trip up to the high school when Lad is heading home in 20 minutes anyway.  Ed informed me last night that his practice was scheduled to end early, and he would like me to arrange a ride home for him.  Hauling kids to a mandatory Northside Irish dancing practice meant I would be unavailable to pick him up.  My parents were at the White Sox game last night, so I had no way of contacting them until this morning to see if one of them was available to give Eddie a lift home.  Once my Mom agreed to the favor, I texted Eddie at school to let him know she would meet him where I always wait for him.  I didn't think it mattered that the last time I waited for him was earlier in the school year before we created the wait-around-for-the-sibling-with-the-car rule.  For the 30 minutes that Eddie searched the parking lot for her, he reminded me that just the night before I hadn't picked him up at the field.  I countered that I picked him up where the bus dropped him off after his away game.  Wise ass. 

It would have been nice if Eddie could have called my mom to ask her which lot she was in, but she doesn't have a phone.  On the other hand, kids have ceased to be resourceful.  They no longer are know how to a). wait  b). look  c). think  d). accept that you messed up the meeting spot.  All of these valuable lessons that occurred countless times when I grew up cell phone-less, a middle child, and frustrated remain unchartered territory for today's youth.  Instead they call the helpless parent who has a phone but who isn't in the vicinity. 

For the record, I don't ask my parents for favors very often.  Not all of my siblings subscribe to this same concept.  My divorced sister relies on my parents often to shuttle her kids around.  It's great that they are available and willing to help her out.  Last summer an ugly incident occurred.  I requested that my dad pick Eddie up from the local, nearby pool while I was on the Northside at Irish dancing.  He agreed to grab him for me.  As instructed, Eddie departed the pool in advance so that my dad didn't have to wait for him.  Still as they headed for home, my Dad shared with Eddie, "I'm not your taxi driver."  Unreal.  Of course if my parents were actual taxi drivers, they would most likely be reachable by radio, or phone.  Just saying. 

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