A Cell Phone Mistake
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Any father who lets his 12-year-old daughter have a cell phone with unlimited texting, free nights and weekends, and mobile-to-mobile with friends and family, that father has pasta for brains.

Just so you’ll know, mine is filled with linguini and macaroni noodles.

There are so many things a father can give his daughter other than a cell phone. A puppy, for example. She can play with a puppy, take it for walks, feed it, then clean up its “accidents” because I’m certainly not going to do it. A puppy would keep a little daughter so busy, she’d never have time to call the friends that she hasn’t seen since she got home from school 28 minutes ago.

Puppies come complete with unlimited belly scratching, they’re still there on nights and weekends, and you can teach them to rollover in minutes. Plus, they never need recharging.

But some girls don’t want puppies. They want horses. And with horses come saddles and bridles and riding gear and cowboy hats and boots and a lot of other expensive horse stuff that after it’s all bought and paid for, you wonder if it might have been better just to get the cell phone, but it’s not, and don’t be deceived into thinking such thoughts.

Taking care of a horse is a time-consuming endeavor. When your little girl is taking care of her horse, she’s not off in her bedroom, texting some strange boy you’ve never met, but she likes him, and she hopes you do, too.

My little girl showed me a picture from her cell phone of a boy she likes. He looked kind of blurry to me. I’m not sure how I feel about my little girl liking a blurry little boy. I’m hoping one day she’ll find one a little more in focus.

And why does my little girl “need” a cell phone anyway? Because her friends have one? Doesn’t work with me. Just in case of emergencies? I’ve heard that one before. Maybe she needs one on the off chance that some escaped convict from Wyoming makes his way to our house, and she’s there by herself, hides in the closet while he rummages around for cash and food, and she texts for help with her cell, after which the cops arrive and arrest the convict, making her story go viral over the Internet, and we all get a free trip to New York, where’s she’s interviewed on Good Morning America and then the Letterman Show? Okay, maybe.

No, little girls and little boys think they need a cell phone because we have cell phones—we, the parents and adults they’re surrounded by, day in and day out. And it’s up to us, the adults and parents, to remind them that we have jobs, we can pay for a cell phone, and as soon as they move out of the house and can afford their own plan, they can have a cell phone, too.

Except that’s not what I did. I should have, but I didn’t. I caved in and gave my too-young-to-have-a-cell-phone daughter a cell phone because when we decided to upgrade all of our phones, she happened to be there at the time, and when it looked like she wasn’t going to get one, she popped out that sad little bottom lip and gave me those sad little puppy-dog eyes—and resistance was futile.

But I can see the future, and I know what this decision will cost me. She already just waves at me as she heads to her room to get her phone and call her friends. Soon, she won’t even wave. She’ll have the phone glued to her ear and will just nod in my direction as she passes by.

And then she’ll want a car, so she can drive herself to school, work, or the mall, and she’ll start texting some boy—probably still the blurry type—and she’ll want to get married to him because she “loves him,” and whether or not I approve, she’ll marry him anyway, and they’ll go off to Ohio so he can find work in construction, and they’ll have three little kids, and when each one reaches the age of 12, they’ll beg to have their own cell phones, and then she’ll call me asking for advice—oh, yes, she will—and I’ll just laugh in my fatherly “what goes around, comes around” way and say “Good luck, but I have another call coming in. Talk to you later.”

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