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…

The Cell Phone Challenge that Disrupted Dinner

My boys have been clamoring for cell phones for two years now. I believe that eighth grade is the appropriate time to get one. They are in fifth and sixth.

Recently however, when my husband realized he was going to want to upgrade to the iPhone 6 as soon as it came out, he concocted the Cell Phone Challenge for our oldest son, who lacks stamina, to get in shape.

The challenge was that if our 6th grader could complete the app called Couch to 5K by embracing the 9-week process and finally running a 5K in 30 minutes, he would get the phone that held the app.

He was not eager. So I agreed to do it with him.

We are in week two and run three times a week. One day, he is furious and whiny. The next, he admits that he likes these runs because we get to talk.

But drama came in the guise of his fifth grade brother, with skinny legs and arms and the stamina of a horse. “If I run a 5K, can I get a cell phone?”

Too easy a task for him. So, believing that a challenge is good for all concerned, and added muscle might benefit the wily and wiry boy, my husband promised that if he could do 100 good sit-ups and 100 good push-ups in half an hour, he too would earn the prize.

We both thought this task impossible, until… dinner, Friday evening, week one of the Cell Phone Challenge.

“I’m bored of training,” said the fifth grader. “Can I just do it now?”

And so began a series of 10 sit-ups, then 10 push-ups with brief rests in-between. If the push-up was weak, he had to do it again. Much shouting. A few victory laps around the dining room table as he closed in on his goal.

“I am getting that phone!”

We assumed it would take too long and his skinny arms would betray him.

Then with six minutes to spare, and his big brother in tears of envy, he completed the challenge. A florescent green cell phone is now his.

He is the one who really wanted one. He showed his mettle, his arms in pain for two days after. Set him a goal, he will go for it. If there’s something he wants, he will do what it takes to get it. He is all will.

After an initial meltdown, his older brother seems content to go slow. And he will, in the end, get more out of it if he sticks with it. For the process. The alone time with mom. The knowledge that he powered through to do something that was really hard for him.

And we learned what a strong will can achieve before clearing the dishes.

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.

Serial Killer

I have a notoriously bad relationship with my cell phones. I drop them in the street, crack the screen, mysteriously blow the speakers, mute important calls with my cheek, have friends who my phone refuses to ring for, and now…

I dropped it down the disposal.

The good news? The disposal wasn’t running.

The bad news? There was water in it. The phone isn’t working 24 hours later. It was new.

I even bought a cover to protect my new phone. Green and glittery and cute. And I strutted with confidence that this phone and I would get along.

It was going so well…

…until I killed it.

I am a serial killer of cell phones.

I need to go into phone therapy. The guilt. The cost. The near certainty that I will do it again. The loss of friends who think I don’t care to return their calls.

I am in cell phone pain.

And I am off to Verizon for my next victim.