Saturday, March 16, 2013

Call Me, Maybe?

Here's a little tale about how, after maybe two years of Derek trying to cobble together a rational argument about why he needs a cell phone...actively prodding us at any available opportunity in a transparent attempt to wear down our defenses...throwing out discussion items from every conceivable point on the scale from "absolutely reasonable" to "downright ridiculous"...he suddenly tugged us over to his side at long a completely unplanned fashion. Yes, where all his concentrated efforts and strategic sparring failed, he won the battle of wills in a typical teenage boy way--spontaneously, accidentally, with no forethought or consideration of the consequences. Let me explain: when Derek first began petitioning us for his own phone, many of his friends already had theirs. We, his Parental Units, of course dismissed that particular point as totally irrelevant. Over time, however, it became clear that he is, in fact, "the only person he knows without a phone." We (hard-hearted people that we are) remained somewhat unsympathetic ("eh, so you're in an exclusive club...of uncool'll surely survive...") Still, since I arrange my work schedule so that we can arrive home around the same time, our conversations have easily and effectively been accomplished either face-to-face or utilizing a good old fashioned thing called the "landline". (Yes, we still have one of those. Shocking, right?) BUT...several elements converged this week in a Perfect Storm of Communication Snafus, if you will, that led to parental consternation, frustration, and finally capitulation.

First, my beloved child missed the after-school bus one day. How did he manage this, you might ask? I never got a good answer to that, except to infer that he was fooling around with his pals at the time and didn't hear his route called. And how did my newly autonomous son--who's stretching his little wings of freedom these days--solve the dilemma? Why, he determined that it was a brilliant idea to walk home...with his buddy A, who'd also missed out on his free county-provided transportation (probably while rough-housing with Derek). Now, school's only, maybe 1.5 miles away, say a half-hour walk at an idle, chatting pace. But still. Would I have appreciated knowing where he was, when he didn't saunter in at his usual time? Did I wonder what was going on? Was I just a teensy bit worried? In the ongoing "Derek needs a cell phone" contest, Derek--1, Mom--0.

Then there were tryouts for his school soccer team. He would be staying after dismissal for this, which he has never done before. Naturally he was unable to relay to me anything about the particulars--you know, crucial information such as "what time you'll be done so I can pick you up". There's an activity bus, but we have no idea how that even works, so basically we were 100% in the dark about this little endeavor. And let me tell you, as a parent, I LOVE not having a clue where or when to retrieve my child. So it was decided that Derek would take his father's cell phone to school with him, and call or text me at the moment he needed a ride. At first Derek actually had the sheer gall to complain about this--"Dad's phone? has his contacts in it! What if they call me? he sputtered. Then (visibly growing more agitated) "What if I put my friends' numbers in, and Dad calls them?" After snorting in a juvenile and thoroughly unladylike manner, I assured him that Husband has--how shall I phrase this--less than ZERO interest in making inane small talk with his 7th grade buddies. He seemed placated, although a hint of suspicion continued to ever-so-slightly darken his expression. Anyway, like a responsible mom, I hovered near the house phone and checked my cell regularly so I wouldn't miss the "come get me" summons. Which never came. Instead, he hopped out of his rec-league coach's car at the end of our driveway and moseyed into the house. We then proceeded to have Important Talk #1, about how a cell phone can be such a very useful tool, to actually Contact. Your Mother. and let her know you'll be carpooling with an approved substitute parent.

The next incident was innocently triggered by a nice Spring-ish day. On Friday the weather was around 55 degrees in the afternoon, with sunshine gamely striving to beat out the slightly chilly breeze. Since soccer trials had been suspended until next week, Derek had left the phone at home. While I was taking a brief nap, he called (using a friend's cell) and "asked" if he could walk over to M's house (basically across the street from his school) to play for a while. Evidently in his mind he equated the fact that he'd left a message to mean he had actually received approval for this plan, since he didn't show up after that. Sigh. Eventually he and his partner-in-crime, the infamous A (as he shall hereafter be known...okay, he's a really sweet kid, I'm just joking) showed up nonchalantly at our house, having strolled here on their own again. That's it, I'm writing down all of your friends' cell phone numbers...and you're carrying Dad's...I mean YOUR phone from this point forward. This led to Important Talk #2, a multi-pronged lecture covering pedestrian safety, a refresher on stranger danger, and a new topic, "you may NOT hang out at someone's house unsupervised" (also known as: "yes, honey, you may absolutely bring your goofball--I mean delightful--friends over here...and I will happily keep my eye on all of you...gently steering you toward rowdy football in the back yard...rather than delinquency on the streets....or something like that...") And yes, I might as well go ahead and concede: Game/Set/Match to Derek.

Now I suppose we'll need to prepare Important Talk #3: cell phone etiquette and proper usage. Oh, and we'll have to warn Husband's work and family contacts, so they don't unexpectedly try to get in touch with an adolescent boy...who certainly won't call them back anyway! I suspect we're going to be exploring and smoothing out this uncharted territory for a while...and making notes for the inevitable Important Talk #4...which hopefully will not revolve around "Cell Phone Infractions, Related Loss of Privileges, and Duration Thereof"...fingers crossed...

(And the moral of the story? Good things come to those who wait...and drive their parents nuts...without actually doing anything wrong...oh, forget it, that's a terrible lesson...)

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