July 27, 2020

Reggie cell phone: Mama on a mission

Also pre-pandemic:  Reg was not invited to hang out with his friends when they had a day off in late February.  His classmates all have cell phones.  Reg was scheduled to get his phone in high school, like his siblings before him.  

Well, when the kid broke down in tears at the end of a day-off that he spent alone, I decided the original plan needed to be re-worked.  I told him that if the stars aligned, I would try to find the time to get him a cell phone the next day after school.  

The thing is, Ed's group of friends all had phones.  They never excluded Ed.  They told him their plans in advance, or had their moms text me.  Tank and Mini were the same way.  Well, especially Mini.  Her friends would not dream of hanging out without her.  Tank was a bit of a loner, liked hanging out at home and relaxing.  His best buddy invited him places though.  His mom and I would communicate.  

This group of kids in Reggie's class:  a different breed.  Reg tried to explain it to me.  It would be considered uncool to set something up in advance, to call a landline.  The thing implied here:  this one A-hole kid sets the tone, and no one wants to go against him.  Don't get me started.

At any rate, Coach and I agreed that our desire to remain consistent should not interfere with our kid's social opportunities.  So, I embarked on a mission to get Reg a phone.  Unfortunately this would include a visit to the 3rd circle of hell, also known as Walmart.

Our phone service is Family Mobile, also known as poop.  Just saying.

I am trying to remember the sequence of events here, because it was a while ago.  I think Reg went to school and told his 'friends' that he was getting a phone. 

Reg:  Yeah, they laughed and said they didn't believe me.  (How have you not blackened these kids' eyes by now?- implied, not spoken)

If there is one thing that will make things happen, it is tell me that the thing that I want to do WON'T HAPPEN.   Step aside, neigh-sayers.  

I went to Walmart with limited time right after school.  NEVER a good idea.  The usual guy, Mike, who knows stuff about phones was not at the counter.  Also NOT a good sign.  

I took my chances with Mr. Pokey.  I warned him upfront:  I have had trouble buying, replacing, troubleshooting phones here in the past.  I have a limited amount of time and I am hoping you can help me.  

from tenor
"Obi Won Kenobi, you're my only hope!" - also implied, not spoken.

He sold me a phone and tried to send me home. 

Me:  Oh, no you don't.  We are setting this puppy up here and now so I know it will work when I get home.  

I will record this here, so if it comes up again you can all remind me.  We cannot have more than 5 phones on one plan.  So, Mini was on her own plan.  It took awhile for the people to figure that out.  Mr. Pokey called customer service and handed me the phone.  I was on hold for 15 minutes.  The person was working on getting my phone to work when Mr. Pokey did the unthinkable.  

He hung up the phone.  

Me:  What the hell was that for?  

Pokey:  Well, you will just have to finish that at home.  I can't tie up the line.

Me:  I've been on hold for over 15 minutes and now I have to start all the way over.  Are you freaking kidding me?

Mr. Pokey shuttered a little.  As in:  Oops, I have poked the bear.

I stormed out of the store.  Did as he said, called from home.  The people on the phone explained that Mr. Pokey had not properly set up the phone, so I had to go back into a store.  There was no way to set the phone up from home.

Blood.  Boiling.  

I think I used more swear words than these customer service people had ever heard in a single phone call.  After congratulating me for this accomplishment, a manager was summoned. He was astounded at my struggle with anger management.  But I TOLD THE GUY NOT TO SCREW THIS UP FOR ME and he sold me a phone with a chip that wouldn't work (or a package or something, I don't recall) because he hadn't rung it up properly or something.  

Save me.  

I drove to Curly's volleyball game.  Reg was there, anticipating.  I told him that I tried and it didn't work.  He shrugged:  It's OK. 

But it wasn't OK.  It was killing me.

I had to get Reg to travel basketball - this was not a night Dad was helping me drive.  It was a Monday.  I would drive Curly to dancing at 7.  Race home, grab Reg, drive in the other direction to travel basketball by 8 (it was the last practice, and I hoped he could give kids his #), then drive back to get Curly at 9.  Coach would finish work at 9 and drive in the opposite direction from home to go pick up Reg by 9:30.  Just another relaxing evening. 

I took a big chance (at the high school dance with a miss who was ready to play. . .) - it's a song, rare for me to break into song I know, but couldn't be helped . . . there was a Walmart between home and dancing.  A different Walmart.  Maybe it was not filled with Doo-Doo heads.  

I convinced myself it wasn't worth it.  It might take too long.  I had to return whatever Mr. Pokey sold me by mistake before heading to the phone department.  Despite convincing myself to just drive past the Walmart, I found myself in the parking lot. 

I waited for 5 costly minutes in the return line.  The woman ahead of me had nothing in her hand but a piece of paper.  Layaway?  No idea but it was taking forever and when I asked "How long is this going to be?" the Walmart employee and Ms. Piece of Paper glared at me.  

I exited the line before things escalated and I had to turn them into dust with my lazer eyes, glare at me will you?  I stormed to the phone counter.   It was a young kid.  I told him my predicament.  Told him to just even exchange what I had so I didn't have to wait in the return line.  Begged him to help me.  I believe I also shared what little weasel-heads Reg went to school with.  

We figured out that our family has 2 accounts.  Reg needed to be added to the account where Mini, the cheese stands alone, is on her own.  The guy got me a SIM card or whatever.  He set up the phone while I waited on hold accessing the accounts and what-have-you.  I guessed my password to the 2nd family account on the first try.  The sky was opening and the roof was peeled back from that Walmart building and rays of light shone down on us.  I swear.  

I grabbed the phone and told the young kid that I was about to kiss him and that he was a prince.  I believe he blushed.  

I bolted to the car.  I called our landline using Reg's new cell phone.  He answered.

Me:  Um, I'm calling from your new phone (that just so happened to have been assigned a totally cool number that is super easy to remember).  


That is the somewhat happy ending to my kid's first phone and how nice was it for him to be able to connect with friends while in lock-down?  

So, should we just gloss over his COMPLETE AND UTTER ADDICTION to said phone that is presently making Coach and I pull our hair out?  Even though we read him the riot act:


Let's just leave it at the happy place where Walmart employees have downloaded a photo of me from the internet that they use in dart throwing contests, and my kid thinks I am a rock-star, shall we?


Kari said...

This is one of those posts where I am ALL aww, I hate when kids get excluded then at the end I am ALL YAY!!


But for real about phone addiction during a pandemic. It is A REAL THING, let me tell you.
I have had to put time limits on Ella's phone because it is a thing.


Nicole MacPherson said...

Awww, I'm so glad he got his phone! I think it's important for the kids to stay connected with each other, and that's how they do it these days.

Ally Bean said...

You're being kind to call Walmart the third level of hell. I'd place them smack dab in the center of hell. Wonder what Dante would have to say about them?

Cell phone addiction is a real thing, I guess. Not for me, I can barely remember where I left the darned thing, let alone want to find it. For a kid though, it. is. everything.

Ernie said...

Kari - Reg has branched out socially and has found a small crowd who can ride bikes and hang out. . . more on that later and the fun that comes with that and the REAL reason he is hanging with them. It is entertaining. Also, I would like to limit Reg's phone time but I find it near impossible. He sits in the caddy shack waiting until he gets a loop (golfer who wants him to carry his bag) and then his time is spent on his phone EVEN THOUGH he has a book to read for the summer for school that is overdue at the library.

Nicole- yes it does seem to be 'the way'- but it wasn't that long ago that the other kids were in his shoes and they managed. I swear it is just the mix of kids in his class. My other kids may have had a more central role to their group that their group would NEVER consider planning stuff without them. anyway, that was a tough lesson as a parent. An 'oops' but he is making it up for it. I cannot wait for high school to start because I know he will fare better in a bigger pond, but with school only going back a few half days a week it will take that much longer to connect with new friends I fear.

Ally - Oh how I hate Walmart. When we left AT&T because their cable was too slow to keep up with our demands of 6 e-learners the guy on the phone told me that AT&T had cell phone packages that sounded like a pretty good deal. I need to circle back and look into it, because holy smokes is the Family Mobile crappy (phones work and calls aren't dropped or anything ,but whenever you need to change phone or update something - it pushes me to the brink). Mini is in high school and can NEVER find her phone, she is the opposite of Reg - not addicted. Could care less. I think it makes her friends crazy because she is not totally tuned in.

Busy Bee Suz said...

You are a rockstar mom!! I'm so happy you got this for him and I DO expect his friends to include him in most everything now. YES!
Cellphone addiction is so real. I'm not sure how to deal with that...sorry. I'm sure your therapist might have some ideas?

I hate walmart. Sorry. I've not been in years and you can't make me go.

Lolo didn't get a cell phone until high school and Linds wasn't supposed to get one til high school, but while at Verizon getting Lolo's phone the coach says: We might as well get little sister one too. He caved. She was in 7th grade.

Lolo had her phone exactly one week when she left it on a bleacher at school. Gone.
She also lost her lunch money for the week (20$) that same week by leaving it sitting somewhere at school. That kid was hopeless. She had to wait 3 months for a new phone.

Ernie said...

Suz - there has been a little social development with Reg, but there is a part of it that includes egg cartons and I will post that entertaining tidbit soon. :)

I am jealous that you have not been to a Walmart in years. Fingers crossed that we figure out a better phone deal soon so I can ban it from my semi-annual must visit places that I despise.

I have had kids drop phones and then deal with a shattered screen for eternity because they had not yet put it in a case and it was BRAND NEW, but ouch - to lose it so early on. Reg lost his brand new glasses in less than 10 days while at school. Who wants someone else's glasses? Since his phone IS his second skin, I am guessing he won't lose it. *sigh*

Charlie said...

What age do kids go to hogh school? Our daughter had a cell phone when she went to secondary school (earlier I think than high school) at age 11, because she was walking herself to and from school and I wanted her to be able to get hold of us if she needed to stay later or was going to the park with friends etc. I love that you didn’t want your son to be left out and I love his reaction when he heard you on his phone!

Bibliomama said...

I love it so much when parents don't stick to rigid principles when they're not working in the real world for their kids. I hate it so much when service people are incompetent assholes. I'm so glad this worked out in the end and your tenaciousness was rewarded.

Ernie said...

Charlie - Kids are 14 when they go to high school. Most kids in our kids' schools have phones when there are around 11, or younger. We like to wait till they NEED it because there is so much nonsense that comes with phone ownership. I hate hearing stories of kids texting mean shit like: we don't want to play with you anymore, etc. Lad was our guinea pig and he had a flip phone with pay as you go minutes. I do feel that the oldest kids often have a raw deal.

Ali - On the flip side of feeling bad for the oldest kids who have to wait for their folks to get a clue, I am hesitant to become 'that' parent that loses her grip and lets anything go just because she is warn down. But when we recognized that Reg's classmates were leaving him out, we were like "OK, need to shift this a tad." I feel I should have included a line in the post that went something like: Kids today . . .

but then everyone would know that I am secretly an 80 year old hiding in a not-quite-50-year-old body. He was very appreciative when I brought it home and we have had conversations like, Watch it kid or you will be the first one in our family to not have a phone when school starts.

Cheryl said...

"It wasn't me she was, foolin
'Cause she knew what was she was, doin'
When she told me how to walk this way
She told me to
Walk this way!"
I love Aerosmith...and you are too young to know this

You guys are good parents. Feeling left out can haunt you forever. Glad you got him a phone "early".

Ernie said...

Cheryl - way to take the mic there and sing for us. I am NOT too old to know this song, I think I was a freshman in high school. Reg has seemed to benefit socially from having a phone. Although as it turns out the phone may not have been necessary as the 'social' aspect he has connected with was not that socially distant after all. Story to follow. See what I did there? Socially distant. Ha.

Beth Cotell said...

As soon as you said there was a young kid working at the second Walmart, I knew everything was going to be okay! Because when I don't know how to do something on my phone, I just ask my kids.

Cheryl said...

I said you are TOO YOUNG to know that song! :)

Ernie said...

Beth - yes the young kid seemed to know his stuff, but this phone issue is not typically a young kid dilemma it seems to be the people that work there don't know how to add a phone to an account, and I think the first guy didn't unlock or ring up the card with the phone package on it or something. Trust me - anytime a kid says 'My phone broke' I cringe. Once the phone is turned on, I do like how the young people in the world can figure out settings and get it up and running for me. It is the equivalent of my parents never knowing how to set the time on their VCR back in the day. ;)

Cheryl - THAT is what I meant. I meant that I was not too young to know that song, and this is what happens when I try to fight off sleep while responding to comments. I got my allergy shots last night before dinner and I think they wear me out because my body was begging me to go to bed by 9 pm. I am going to start tracking the shot thing and see if it does influence how tired I get. I was out of commission!