I love technology.
I mean most of the time, except when it eats my articles and I’m going OMIGOD I’M ON A DEADLINE YOU PIECE OF MECHANICAL GARBAGE HOW COULD YOU EAT MY WORK I HAVE BILLS TO PAY but yeah, most of the time it’s cool, especially when it comes to texting.
I get that I’m old and I’m supposed to hate these newfangled phones that have everyone preoccupied 23.5 hours a day, but if there’s something that can keep me from having to have actual talking conversations with people, I’m all about it. It also streamlines communication, even with people I enjoy talking to, such as my kids.
Texting would be the ideal method for things like making plans while I’m at work and the kids are at school, or for asking quick questions… if it was used to actually share information, which is something my kid seems to have problems with.
Before I go any further, let me say that I have awesome kids. The best, really. Baby girl is in high school now, and she goes where she’s supposed to when she’s supposed to, does reasonably well in school (freshman year sucks), and as far as I know, hasn’t done any of the things I did at that age, that should have gotten me arrested or killed. But. This texting thing. Oy.
Now I am not complaining about how much she talks, because I love our conversations and I love that she shares her life with me, but this is what she sounds like when she comes home from school (with names changed to protect the innocent):
“Oh my god mom. Petunia is so stupid. We were in class and she said that Jim Bob liked Louise but everyone knows he likes Francine and Louise is gay so it doesn’t even matter, but Petunia just likes to start drama with everyone, and so then she was talking and Mr. B was like, “Baby girl, sit down and do your work,” and I was like, “fool, I wasn’t even talking,” I mean I didn’t really say that, but why is he telling me to be quiet and not even saying anything to Petunia? So then I went to English and Mrs. K was like, “Did you do your homework,” and I was like, “Yessssss,” which is stupid because I read that book in like fourth grade and oh my god, it’s so dumb, like why do I have to read it again? And then at lunch Braden took my apple and gave it to Stephanie, and she gave it back, but it was right before we had to go back to class so I didn’t even get to eat it, so now I’m starving. Do we have any pudding? When did you buy Cheetos? What are we having for dinner? I’m going to make some chocolate milk. When are we getting a Christmas tree?”
My point is, she is not afraid of sharing details.
So today she texts me from school, and it’s a very typical exchange, and it always starts like this:
“Can I go to this place with this person?”
Usually I know the place and the person, and it would probably be fine to iron out the details later, but there are two things about that:
One, I am not always available to drive her places and pick her up, and once in a while we actually do things as a family, and I like to make sure our plans don’t conflict.
And two, I know she’s not me but she’s a kid, and as soon as you say yes without knowing the details, you’re in for a world of trouble. For example, had I asked my mom when I was a teenager, “Can I go to the Motley Crue concert next month?” and she said yes without any further information, I would have been halfway to LA in a van with 15 dudes with tattoos and fake leather pants bought out of the back of Metal Edge magazine, on a pay phone going, “But Mommmmmm you said I could go!” So yeah. I need details.
So here’s how it goes:
Can I go to the mall with Louise?
When, and how are you getting there?
Tuesday. Her mom can maybe take us.
Tuesday what time? How would you get home?
Around 4. Could you pick me up?
Maybe. Would you ride the bus home with Louise after school, or what?
No. You need to drive me to Louise’s house.
You get out of school at three.
Would I need to pick you up from the mall or from Louise’s house?
I don’t know.
Can you find out? Louise’s house is 10 minutes away. The mall is 45.
OK. So can I go?
I don’t even know where or when to pick you up.
I don’t know. Could you get me at Petunia’s?
See what I mean? Here’s how the conversation should start:
Can you please take me to Louise’s house around 330 on Tuesday so we can go to the mall, and then pick me up at her house at 7?
That’s an effective pitch. It gives me all the pertinent information up front, and it gives me a lot less time to think about the fact that she hasn’t cleaned her room in six months, and the last time she went to the mall with Louise she got mad because Louise hid in the photo booth with Braden for half an hour while baby girl was stuck in Spencer’s looking at plastic vomit by herself, until she ran into Francine and they went to eat at the food court, where they stayed until she texted me to be picked up… and you can imagine how that went.