Last Tuesday I broke down and gave in. My wife and son have been up and down me like a ladder for the past year about cell phones. I have one. My wife has one. My daughter has one. My son doesn’t have one.
He will be sixteen in another month and I’ve fended off the incessant suggestions that he needs one in case of an emergency, you know. I offered a roll of quarters to use in phone booths that are in and around his school.
To my disappointment Verizon removed the phone booths at the end of the school year. My last bulwark was rapidly eroding.
The kid is a good one. A keeper. An AP honors student and an athlete. Not a gifted one but he plays the game. A child any parent would be proud of. I held off the phone eventuality for four years, an honorable and brave fight. In the past whenever I had doubts about a kid’s request I would say “No” figuring that I could always say “Yes” at a later date. Saying “Yes” immediately meant forfeiting the right to change your mind. So, in a moment of weakness I let down my guard and relented to the inevitable.
I calculated the Verizon contract almost to the day and rolling my eyes signed all the papers including unlimited texting. He was ecstatic, a phone of his own. I got a kiss on the cheek. We picked up the phone in the afternoon and by five in the afternoon he was texting away.
Today I got the first bill for one day of service. I glanced over the pages of fees and taxes and charges and surcharges. I then moved on to the next page and saw what I thought a profound mistake. Between the hours of 5 PM and Midnight my son’s phone tolled up five hundred fifty-one text messages. I called Verizon to see what the problem was.
The problem was my son’s thumbs and forefingers.
The lady at Verizon said parental shock was natural when a kid gets their first mobile device. Mobile device? And here I thought it was a phone.
A little quick math informed me that the boy in those seven hours averaged 1.3 texts per minute. Of course he had some time out for family dinner, bathroom breaks, SportsCenter breaks, snack breaks, etc. So his average text per minute was actually higher. He was obsessed.
He came back to the house a little while ago for lunch. I called to him and he appeared in the doorway sweaty in a gray tee and maroon shorts with the basketball tucked between his hip and forearm. Sigh.
“Put the ball down and come here.” He placed the ball on the porch floor and came over. “Let me see your hands.”
“What’s wrong?” he asked sheepishly.
“Just do what I say. Okay?” He came over and held his hands out. I examined them and saw no evidence of blisters or callous on his texting digits.
“What..” I cut him off, “Go get lunch.”
He walked off to the bathroom to get cleaned up. I then heard that annoying BZZZZZZT. I walked to the kitchen counter. The text was from Stephi.
Crap, I might as well get used to it. I still don’t feel good, my grip is slipping.