Constant communication

. January 29, 2013.

For moms it is a constant challenge to keep a family “high touch” in our high tech world. I can’t believe I am using this dreaded official middle age “speak” but, “back in the day” our access to technology was highly limited. We did not have cell phones, texting, iPods, voicemail or picture messaging. In fact, living large for us was FINALLY getting a longer phone cord so we could have enough line to take the phone out of the kitchen and into the utility closet to get a little privacy. Advances such as call waiting and caller ID were unheard of. When I dove for the phone, I never knew if it was going to be the captain of the basketball team or the weird guy from church, that my mother adored, who had an endless supply of knock-knock jokes.

During my teen years, I remember watching the news and seeing images of Russian women waiting in line for hours to get a loaf of bread. Meanwhile, as an American girl, I felt a bit miffed after I wasted time calling my buddy Kari for hours only to hear the dreaded busy signal. Finally when I just knew in my gut that the line would be free on her end, my brother would snatch the phone and talk to his girlfriend. Well, looking back, she must have been doing all the talking based on his stereotypical football player monosyllabic responses.

When we made weekend plans, everyone within ear shot could hear about your social life. Today it’s tough for parents to keep up with the multitude of planning and, at times, plotting that occurs in the texting world. A little tidbit of learned knowledge; if their hair is straightened, makeup is applied and you get a whiff of the latest Victoria Secret scent as your teen walks out the door, chances are they are not going to a friend’s house to watch
The Lion King.

Texting is also making it difficult for our youth to communicate in person with other humans. I believe many children cannot diagram a sentence, struggle to read anything in cursive and cannot complete a sentence without an acronym. OMG! What’s a mother to do?

My kids are also missing out on fine tuning their negotiating skills. My brother and I would constantly debate on what television show to watch, and more importantly who was going to get up and change the channel. You would think we won the lottery when we got a remote and a Pac Man game hooked up to our TV for Christmas. We were living large!

As much as I view technological advances as a double-edged sword, being logistically challenged, to me the most incredible piece of technology in my repertoire is the Garmin. It was the BEST Christmas present I ever bought my parents. I am certain they will love it once they get it back from their daughter. I do not know how I would cope without my computerized male saying, “In 1.5 miles, keep right.” It fascinates me that for many, if a spouse or passenger were to say, “Hon, I think you need to turn here” things could get a bit dicey. However, when the soothing computerized voice without tonality, judgment or the dreaded eye rolling and other body language cues, tells you where to go, there is peace. Also, if you go off course, as I often do, you are informed that Mr. Garmin is “recalculating” and quickly finds a path to head you back in the right direction. I wish the rest of my life would be that easy when I find myself astray.

 I do not need “Mr. Garmin” to lead me to our cabin and part of the appeal of heading there is it forces my family to live “unplugged.” We lose cell coverage about an hour from “camp” and we enter a world free of computers and other gadgets. For decades, we only received one channel on Gram and Pop’s old TV. Lobo, the wonder wolf program, would come in if you stood as if you were in a yoga position with the antennae. I must admit on rainy days we travel to the big town of Massey, Ontario, and pay a “loony” (one American dollar) to catch up on email or get a little voyeur fix on Facebook.

We also now have a dish, or as the Canadians call them “our national flower” because they pop out of the rocks like daisies. However, for the most part, we find ourselves talking, laughing, playing cards, doing puzzles, creating scavenger hunts. When we do watch TV, we are all clumped together on the couch, munching on Helena’s famous popcorn. It is during these moments I am grateful that temporarily we can chuck the high tech and cherish the high touch.