Here’s the thing with technology and it’s obsessive amounts of electronics, specifically smart devices… Time oblivion. You eventually look up from your phone or tablet and the whole beautiful day has passed you by. Which enhances the feeling that we live to work and work to live, because the part of the day that could have been inspiring was wasted away staring at a screen. Every child the age of 11 and up these days has a cell phone and are glued to it for every moment of every day except when they are sleeping. And what’s worse, ADULTS. If I could count on my fingers and toes how many times I have walked into a grocery store and nearly gotten pummeled by a grown adult staring down at their phone while walking, I would run out of fingers and toes. I have this cell phone. Yeah it’s a well-known brand that probably fifty percent of the population has. Why do I have it? Because most everyone that I know communicates solely via e-mail or text so if I don’t have access to these things I miss out on knowing if they are even still alive. And oh yeah, to make or receive phone calls from the only people who seem to know my number by heart – solicitors. My phone has all these functionalities to it that I have never taken the time to learn. Games and apps, all of which again I do not even care to think about let alone download. I use it for the basics of what I need. I don’t really follow anyone on my social media so when I open up Facebook, I see recipes and blogs, things that take a second to look at and then close the app. If I see something inspirational, I post it and sometimes throw in my own experience for the day that I found to be humorous.
When my thirteen year old comes to visit though, she is always checking her phone. My three year old is obsessed with playing puzzles and games of all kinds and she fights her sister for the use of the tablet. My husband is staring at his phone, playing a game or reading articles and I am sitting in a room full of people that I love, though somehow invisible to each of them. I don’t mean that in a “poor pitiful me” sort of way, but in a, “this is my reality” sort of way. At that moment, I do not exist. Unless it is to fetch some food or drinks. I could probably make this fun by imagining that I have powers of invisibility which I unknowingly switch between and that makes me feel less bad about it. Or I can look at it for what it is and see that I really am pretty much invisible. It takes a conscience effort to get everyone to look up from their devices at the same time and it’s usually when I am ticked off at the messes all over the house and fussing because no one takes care of this place, but me. That’s usually when the troops fall in line.
This will make me sound old, but when I was a kid we had no cell phones. We had a big yellow rotary phone with a spiral cord that could stretch into the other room and eventually the garage. We had one of those old furniture console TVs with a panel next to the volume and ON/OFF nobs that displayed a few pushbuttons of channels. Cartoons aired only very early on Saturday mornings and we didn’t get to watch whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. No, we watched whatever my parents wanted to watch and usually that was in the evenings because we spent the day being kids and keeping ourselves entertained. This was the 80’s early 90’s, when kids could be trusted to be, well, kids.
Each Saturday morning, my brother, sisters and I would wake up to my Mom bounding in our room with a, “RISE AND SHINE!!!!!” followed by her throwing the curtains back and opening the blinds all of the way while the sunshine begin to burn a whole in the shag carpet. This is the day we all hated. Cleaning Day. This wasn’t the clean up your room and put away your clothes, kind of cleaning day either – that was every day. This was the – each child had to do some form of hard labor cleaning that usually took hours before we were allowed to clean our rooms, get dressed and do anything at all that we had planned for that day – kind of cleaning day.
We had this house that was on like a big circle on the inside. The living room being in the center, with all of the bedrooms and hallway around it. In each room there were two doors to get in and out of. We kids knew what chores were ours to do, yet my mother usually listed them off for us just as a firm reminder that we had better get it all done before we even thought to leave the house. I was in charge of cleaning the bathrooms. That includes toilets, sinks, mopping, sweeping, bathtubs, trash cans, etc. My Mom, trying to make me feel proud of my enlistment to this duty – explained that she gave me this chore (for the rest of my life, I might add) because I was so thorough in getting the bathrooms spotless.
Eventually one of us kids would start clowning around and the rest would follow suit, getting us all laughing and off focus of our duties. My Mom would get furious after telling us for the tenth time to do whatever it was that we were supposed to be doing. To understand this better, you have to understand that my mother NEVER gets mad. She is one of those Mom’s that caters to the father and children all with a smile on her face. I use to think one day she would totally snap on us all, flip a table and run out of the door, never looking back – but she never did. She just kept letting her four kids and husband drive her crazy and continue on with the Stepford wife smile. She really is a naturally happy and nice person though… (Wink, Wink)
Oh, back to my story. Now, my Mom back then did a whole lot of ironing. I don’t know if she found it relaxing, or if it was just one of her many duties, but she was always ironing. On her bed usually laid a stack of wire hangers and a pile of my Dad’s clothes, while she stood over the ironing board. As she would go into a blind rage hollering each of our names at the top of her lungs followed by ordering us back to our chores, we would start to laugh. Once our rebellious laughter got so out of control that clearly the only one working on the house was her, she would grab a hanger from her stack and come out of the room MAD, red-faced, and in a very stern voice naming us off each one at a time by both our first and middle names. This is usually when we knew we were in trouble. Yes, we grew up with spankings and no, my Mom’s did not hurt – but to make her feel better about herself we would pretend as if they did, screaming in pain and squeezing out a few tears for affect. She would come out of her room, wire hanger in hand, firmly yelling our names between her clinched teeth and pursed lips and we started to laugh even more. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t the Mommy Dearest type of moment as my Mom doesn’t have a mean bone in her body…Usually. Then in someone’s great wisdom, we decided to run through the house in circles going through one door into a room and out of that same room from another door, making a giant circle through the house, forcing my Mom to chase us with a wire hanger. My siblings and I would run through the house, slamming each door as we passed through it until my Mother, who was chasing us would start laughing hysterically. Once we got her laughing, we knew that we were safe. Our laughter would turn into hours sitting around in the living room being silly while she continued to laugh and talk with us. Every Saturday, we knew what was coming and we all tried our best to complain as much as humanly possible about it, yet it usually wound up in us all laughing together with my Mom.
I wonder how many of these moments I would have missed out on if we would have had smart phones, tablets, and endless streaming of TV shows to watch at any given moment. There’s something to be said about not always being so reachable. Taking a minute to just live in the moment not worried about what others are doing, what they posted that they are eating, what show is on or which person outside of your home wants what. There is connection to what all is right in front of me, when I disconnect from what is outside of my reach. Now as an adult and mother to my own kids, each time that I clean my house I start off procrastinating about it, dreading the fact that I’m going to have to put some bass in my voice to get these people here off of their behinds and moving to help me. I start off angrily cleaning by myself and then I blow a minor fuse that I am doing this alone while everyone who made the mess is kicked back relaxing, and for a split second I stand in my mother’s shoes. I think about those times as a kid with my siblings and usually want to call my Mom and apologize profusely for making a chore that was no more fun for her than it was for us, so difficult to accomplish.
I have found one good use for this smart phone though. I hook it up to a loud speaker, blare the music and dance around the house while I’m cleaning. My three year old loves to dance so she jumps up ready to shake her thang, which I then coax her into putting away her toys. It typically gets the kids inspired to help me. Well that, and yelling at them of how much they’ve destroyed my house and need to clean it up before I REALLY lose it. Hey, at least I own no wire hangers to chase them around with – – they have that going for them! Now if I could just find a way to permanently hide all of their devices…