Regarding the telephone, we go through phases in our lives, and I recognize my entry into a new one.
First, as a child, we have little to do with the phone. Then we hit our adolescence or teens and early twenties, and it becomes a central part of our existence. It is a connection with friends, fun, opportunity and adventure. There is a complete disconnect between the hour of the day and the phone call itself – if you (or your friend) want to talk, you call. You don’t mind, necessarily, a wake-up call at 2 am, especially since you might not have been asleep at 2 am.
Then, hopefully, you grow up a bit, and start to keep more regular hours. Perhaps you get news of a family member’s illness or death at a bad hour, and you start to discern whom you can call and during what hours without causing alarm. Calls at 2 am are not ever welcome, unless it is your husband calling from Shannon, Ireland, telling you he’s having his first beer in 6 months and he’ll be home to your arms within a day or two.
Now I am discovering a new phase, one in which I am the parent of teens who use the phone whenever they think of it, regardless of the time of day.
The boys were able to go skiing/snowboarding this weekend. I didn’t think we’d be able to afford it, but their fundraising through Scouts covered the cost. Fritz had been sick with some sort of cold virus earlier in the week, and we were happy that he recovered sufficiently to go. They left Saturday morning, very early, with enough time to check in at the hotel, change into ski clothes, get to the Saturday Vigil Mass, and then hit the slopes for night skiing. “Call me tonight,” I told them. I wanted to remind them to use the hotel dryer for the clothes that would get wet. They had extras in case they forgot anyway.
They didn’t call, of course.
Sunday, 8:30 am, the phone rings. That’s too early on a Sunday for the phone to ring. Unless, of course, you have children of a certain age. Especially boys who feel guilty for not calling their mother the night before.
And, actually, Fritz didn’t feel too guilty about that. “Sorry, Mom, we were tired. We went right to bed.” I had figured as much. Instead, he was calling to tell me that Billy was sick, having finally succumbed to the virus Fritz had had. Billy was not going to be hitting the slopes, but would be staying in bed. I told Fritz to leave the phone with him and tell him to call me if he needed to. Poor kid, poor adult leaders. I knew there was one couple who did not plan to ski, and would be available to deal with any injuries or kids who needed a break. But sore muscles or a sprained ankle are less of a problem than a lethargic, feverish kid.
Later that day, Jenny went down, so I could compare how she was feeling with how Billy was likely feeling. She spent several hours passed out on the couch and didn’t eat dinner. She sipped water and watched a movie and went to bed with everyone else. She looked and felt miserable.
Billy called again during dinner to report on his misery and to say that the adults were going to have someone look at him. I thought he meant an urgent care center, but I think it was just another mom with medical training. “Call me later and tell me how you’re doing,” I said.
He didn’t, of course.
This morning, 5:30 am, the phone rings.
I was soundly asleep, which is rare for me at that hour. But Bill is off for President’s Day, so his alarm and my internal clock were silent. In an instant, however, that phone had me awake. I nudged Bill. “Get the phone!” And he leaped from the bed. Momentary panic was quelled by a reminder that I have boys of a certain age. I was concerned, though, since Billy had been sick. I couldn’t imagine that he had anything worse than a cold, but you never know.
It was Billy, as I suspected. They were packing up for the return home. In that early morning quiet, I could hear clearly from across the room as he asked his father, “Can I watch Star Wars Episode III in the car on the way home?”
“I’m going to kill him,” I groaned as Bill groggily tried to explain that asking permission to watch a PG-13 movie of a parent awakened from a deep sleep at an early hour of the morning was, to put it mildly, poor timing.
But at least he’s an obedient son.
My husband, ever the soldier, went back to bed, and is still there now. I, on the other hand, have a grocery list to write, a dog to walk, laundry to start, etc etc etc.