Twelve Days in the Wilderness

My eighth grade Environmental Science trip included a week of canoeing and camping, and I remember it like it was yesterday. The night it rained so hard our tent collapsed. M&M soap operas with rationed candy. Being first in line in the cave. Learning to steer.

I am one of the few who loved middle school, and that week was the best of it. So, I was excited when my son wanted to go on his school’s version of that trip. Still, sending him off into the wilderness was a little unnerving. He’s the one who admits to being afraid of the dark. The one who hates to exercise. The one who wants pasta every night for dinner.

So, during their two-day drive to the boundary waters in Canada, I expected some hint from him how he was doing. It turns out, no one on the trip called home before leaving their cell phones with the outfitter.

And his texts went like this:

“At Wall Drug.”

“I found your letter.” (I left a little card in his backpack telling him how proud of him I am and how excited that he gets to go on this adventure.)

“Mini golf course.”

“The fleas on the prairie dogs in the Badlands had the bubonic plague.”

“Yes.” “You too.” “Too late. Goodnight.”

Then… “Good night. Not bringing my phone canoeing, so this might be my last text message. I love you!”

And as the days of his adventure go by, I realize that I never called my parents. We didn’t have cell phones. And like me learning to navigate the river, they were fine.

If You Can’t Walk and Chew Gum…

I seem to be unable to walk my dog and deal with my cell phone at the same time.

Earlier this summer, the purple poop bag I was using to carry my cell phone split, and unbeknownst to me, the cell phone slipped through the hole. Lost for three hours.

Then yesterday, while my dog tugged mercilessly on the leash in a neighborhood suddenly overrun with bunnies, I decided to call my parents. Not smart if you “can’t walk and chew gum at the same time”.

As I was dialing and the dog was rabbit-obsessed, a large, low-hanging tree branch got in my way…

…right at eye level.

Forehead and nose scratched and completely dazed – “where did that tree come from?!” – I fell to the sidewalk.

My until-then wild dog came immediately over and sat until I picked up my cell phone and got back on my feet.

Between the dog, me and the phone…

Caller ID

You pick up the phone. “Hello?”

Nothing.

“Hello?”

The sound of heavy breathing.

But I am not afraid. I know it is not a crank call. Caller ID says it is my ten year old son’s friend. He forgot his homework again, because that is apparently what fifth grade boys do. But he still has not said a word.

“Hi, Mark-Steven-Ty-Nick-Sam.”

“Oh hi!” he says with relief that he has been recognized. I smile overhearing his mom, my friend, in the background coaching in a loud whisper, “May I please speak to…”

And yet, they all want their own cell phone. “Please, mom!” “Why not?!” “I’m the only one in my class who doesn’t have one!” “You’re so unfair!” “You’re the meanest mom ever!”

When I am ready for my son to have a cell phone, he will have to earn it by learning to say, “Hello, Mrs. So-and-So. This is…” in a cheerful voice that makes the mom on the other end of the line, my friend, smile knowing how far our boys have come.

Until then, I will know who is calling by my it’s-not-a-crank-call-Caller-ID.