It’s summer time and my big fear looms large: What will my youngest daughter do with herself without high-school and sports to structure her days? Of course this is a rhetorical question. The answer is that she will stare at her phone for the next three weeks until she leaves for sports camp.
Smart phones provide her endless hours of entertainment, distraction, obsession, companionship, and addiction. My daughter is no different than most teenagers. She says that HER attachment to her phone is not her problem. It’s MINE. The other day she claimed that I blame everything on her cell phone.
When she is moody, I blame it on her phone.
When she is tired, I blame it on her phone.
When she forgets to pick up her wet towel off the floor, I blame it on her phone.
When she cannot hear me calling her to set the table, I blame it on her phone.
When her room is a mess, I blame it on her phone.
When her acne flares up, I blame it on her phone.
When she forgets her water bottle for sports practice, I blame it on her phone.
When she gets a bad grade on a test, I blame it on her phone.
This is simply not true. Okay, maybe a little true.
Meanwhile, my middle daughter overheard this conversation, and, in solidarity with her younger sister, said that she could totally relate. My middle daughter claimed that when she was in high-school, I blamed everything on her wearing halter tops. That was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. But then she went on to explain that when she was in high-school, she would occasionally complain about headaches. Allegedly, I said that her halter tops were putting a strain on her neck and might be the cause of her headaches. According to her, I didn’t stop there. When her teenage acne flared-up, I also suggested that the elastic or the lace of her halter top or her exposed back was causing irritation against her skin. And then, I blamed her occasional indigestion on the elastic around the ribcage, on her halter top. She, also, said that when she was feeling stressed, I insisted that the tie around the halter top neck was putting undue pressure on her spinal cord and causing her to feel anxious. She went on to say, I also blamed her poor test grades on halter tops, citing the same theory that halter tops were causing pressure on her spinal cord, constricting blood flow, and resulting in pain while taking tests. She disproved this theory as she did fine in most subjects except math. Apparently, she was just bad at math. I have no recollection of any of this. Although, when she recounted it, I began to recall that I suffered from headaches and neck pain when I used to wear halter tops in the ‘70s and again in the ‘90s when they made their comeback. So, maybe. Just maybe, some of this might be true.
Feeling kind of defensive and sheepish, I decided to call my eldest daughter and see if she remembers anything that I chronically blamed during her high-school years. I was sure that she would come to my defense and tell me that she had no idea what her younger sisters were talking about. Surely, she would tell me that they are just trying to deflect their unwillingness to do chores and be accountable for their shortcomings. But my eldest daughter didn’t hesitate when asked. She gleefully jumped on the bandwagon and said, “Oh yes! You blamed everything, from bad grades to dishes left in the sink, on sleeping too much and watching too much Food Network!”
I took this all in. I felt I needed to confess my shortcomings as a mother to someone, so I called my sister. She listened. She laughed. And then she said with her infinite wisdom, “It’s probably genetic. Whenever I am cold, I tell my kids to put on a sweater.” I reminded her that our Bubbie (grandmother) used to do the same thing… and I do it too.
So I guess what I learned from this is that when I spend too much time staring at MY phone, I get tired, unmotivated, crabby, forgetful, and less focused on my priorities.
When I used to wear halter tops, I got headaches, felt anxious, and stressed.
When I watched too much television or slept too much, I did not feel like doing much of anything.
And when I was in high-school, I did all of these things too. We just didn’t have smart phones, but everything else was pretty much the same. So, I just need to lighten up and let my youngest daughter be a teenager. The good news is that next month she will be in sports camp, so at least she won’t be on her phone.
At least, I hope.