Friday, September 23, 2016

14th birthday, present

While you are sleeping
I find your sister's old phone--
the smart one--
and make the call.

Your dumb, old phone,
with its cracked screen--
"not your fault"--
lies in the hall,

full of stupid photos
and foolish texts sent
against the rules.
You never call.

I add another line and
increase the data plan--
that's my secret--
and pay for it all.

I activate your new phone,
congratulate myself--
birthday gift achieved--
and test a call.

There you are, goofing on last
year's voice message--"Like,
totally, like ciao!"
You sound small,

smart enough for a phone
but little, like a kid--
high, chirpy voice--
not cracked, not tall.

draft (c) HM 2016

Fourteen is different nowadays, huh?  I spent hours and hours on the kitchen wall phone with the long spiralled cord, sitting in the privatest place it could reach at the top of the back stairs, practicing my double entendre with a boy who was a friend, not a crush--safe space.

My son is moving from the "dumb" phone to the smart phone because he needs to start practicing how to use it wisely, but we have our qualms--unfairly, because we didn't have the same ones with his sister.  This rightly makes him indignant (but they have different strengths and weaknesses and are susceptible to different, shall I say, "cultural" dangers.)  However, he's getting his sooner than she got hers.

Hope it doesn't grow him up any faster than he's already going.

ADDENDUM:  No danger of that.  I showed him his birthday poem (so much for keeping secrets).  He stared for a while and then said, "Is that how you spell ciao?" 

But then, this is the same boy who looked out the car window recently and said, "Hey, look--is that guy RUNNING with a stroller!?"  They know so much, and then you find out what they absurdly haven't figured out yet...

The Poetry Friday roundup today is with Catherine at Reading to the Core.  Call in for plenty of poetry conversations!


  1. Having talked with students a year ago about this helps me see things in new ways, and with my 15 year old grandson, but I didn't have any of this when my children grew up. For myself, having my own extension was a gift, finally, late in high school. I don't envy those of you who are growing children up now and with "smart" phones along for the ride. Love the intent, Heidi! And FYI-your link isn't working, I just looked for your site!

  2. What a different world we live in! I remember begging my parents for a cell phone when I was in high school - I remember telling them that if I had a phone they could keep track of where I was at any time, and their response was "why would we want to do that?" Definitely not helicopter parents....!!! ;)

  3. What a lovely story set cleverly into a poem. My favorite part is that last line with its repetition of "cracked"--along with imagining the scene on birthday morning.

  4. Your poem is so clever, so true. My children got cell phones when they were driving. Today, it still seems to be the birthday gift of choice. We still have our 26 year old on the plan and her birthday was last week. There's the initial 200+ dollars and then a monthly fee. Eek! They find a way to bleed more and more money from you, don't they?

  5. Fun poem with lovely word play. The whole phone dilemma is so tricky, and yes, different for each child/situation. My catchphrase for our boys' phones & laptops has always been, 'Tool - not toy', although that changes shape as they grow. None of us really like talking on the phone - tend to do all we can to avoid it - so that isn't really an issue here. :)

  6. What a great poem, Heidi. My boys didn't have cell phones until they went to college, but they really weren't a "must-have" before that. Hope your son loved his present!

  7. Wishing you lots of luck as you navigate these confusing waters together!

  8. Love your poem, Heidi! My son gets ticked off (rightfully, perhaps) that he has to wait ages for us to come around to letting him do or have this or that, and our daughter gets the same much sooner. But as you said, children are different and so are times. The phones have their benefits, but I do get jealous of all the attention they get. Sometimes I miss those wall phones with cords.

  9. (Jane's comment cracks me up!)
    - Such an honest, hearty post, Heidi. I'm immediately transported back to my son's being 14 (he's 21 - but really, things are even more technologically tangled now for them than they were even just a few years ago). My hat's always off to parents of teens!. Happy Birthday wishes for your son. I especially love text messages or calls from mine now that he's away more than home.

  10. Raising kids these days is quite the challenge. I'm very glad to be at the grandparenting stage! Love the poem. And his responses.

  11. I'm smack dab in the middle of this same parenting quandary, Heidi - two children, two different sensibilities with technology. I love your son's "running with a stroller" observation/astonishment - too funny!

  12. Not only do I love your poem but truly enjoyed your after-note. You can never imagine just what kids will say in any given moment. On to smart phones...

  13. Love this. The heartbreak of parenthood is woven just below the surface. They grow up so fast...


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