The Communication Habits of The Next Generation.

There was a time where hearing a voice without video to go with it absolutely terrified Noah. He would scream and run and have nothing to do with a non-FaceTiming telephone, whether on speakerphone or not. It was the stuff of demons.

Then, I got a corded phone.

Yes, we still have a landline. No, I’m not sure why. But at any rate, I got a new system with a corded phone because I never could manage to keep a cordless phone charged, regardless of how little I used it or how many handsets I had.

Noah found this new phone unbelievably exciting.

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Yes. He loves it so much he kicks his leg up like a tween girl talking to her crush.

(Yes, he’s potty-trained. That photo must’ve been right after bed. Because who can resist getting up and jumping on the phone?)

Because of the enchanting cord, he began regularly making phone calls and is quite good at holding up a steady chat.

My seven and a half year old, though, still does not get this concept.

(I guess this makes her less hipster than her brother.)

I needed her to call her Father, didn’t have my cell phone around, and so I told her to call him from the house phone.

She panicked.

Not only has she never actually dialed a phone number, she’s never talked on the phone off of speakerphone.

I walked her through dialing his number, then had to tell her to put the phone on her ear three times.

It’s as if she’s never seen me talk on the phone.

Oh wait – she hasn’t. I text.

As soon as I let her, she quickly jettisoned that foreign piece of insanely complex technology and went back to expertly playing games on her iPad.

Noah, meanwhile, continued moving up in the world of 1990s tech. He found an old Nokia-style toy cell phone, and, after asking me what the antenna was and why my phone didn’t have one, became completely inseparable with his communication device.

Noah on the Phone

It currently goes everywhere with him, ready at any moment for an array of uses.

He uses it to check in on friends, such as Mr. Branch, a large tree limb that he became quite close to at my parent’s house. He introduced me to Mr. Branch when we picked him up, and suggested I shake his hand. I did so, and tried my best to hide the fact that I accidentally broke off one of his fingers. After leaving my parent’s house, Noah found himself missing Mr. Branch terribly.

I saw him punching on his phone one morning while staring intently. He looked up, and explained.

“I’m texting Mr. Branch.”

“Oh yeah? What did you tell him?”

“Nothing. Texting is quiet.”

“Did he answer?”

“Yup.”

“What did he say?”

“I don’t know. He said a Spanish word.”

“What was it?”

“Azul. And rojo.”

“Oh. Isn’t that blue and red?”

“Yup.”

Then the next day, we were at Aldridge Gardens with some friends. I was at the lake’s edge taking pictures of the gorgeous reflections.

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I heard Noah a few feet behind me. I looked back and he was holding his phone up at the lake.

“I’m taking pictures of Amy Beth.”

I followed his phone’s trajectory, and I couldn’t have been prouder.

He had found the perfect shot – and I almost missed it.

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If only I’d been quick enough to get a picture of him taking a picture…

And I’m gonna have to get the kid a real phone.

Just Another Day at the Playground.

My kids are blessedly now both at the age where they are Independent Playgrounders. Aside from the occasional “Give me a starting push on the swings”, they blissfully run around, make friends, entertain themselves, and gift me with a Mommy Break.

Sure, I could join the hordes of parents along the perimeter of the playground staring at their phones – I’m good at that, too. But it’s more entertaining to watch the In Real Life newsfeed going on around me. Because all of these events happened during one visit to the playground….

….The background soundtrack of the entire visit is the extremely loud, fast-talking cell phone Mom with the Starbucks cup. I’m not sure how the person on the other end could process all of those syllables coming out of her mouth, but they have no worries – she’s not giving them time to respond anyway.

…Oh – look over there by the swingset! A presumed Dad is leaning up against the pole, and his apparent wife/girlfriend/baby momma is taking a sexy profile picture for him. Oh – he’s putting on the sultry pout now. Don’t the children swinging in the background of this photo make it slightly less seductive? By his facial expression, I’m assuming his opinion is…no.

…Noah’s made a new friend, I see. A four-year-old-ish kid, he seems nice enough. Is that a…why yes, yes it is. A stud earring in that kid’s left ear. That might be the first pre-teen boy I’ve ever seen with an earring. How long has he had that? Did his parents get his ears pierced while he was still in the hospital? Is that a thing now? “Hey doc – while you’re doing his circumcision, can you go ahead and put a diamond in his ear?”

Speaking of which, has the pierce-your-newborn-baby-girl’s ears trend ended? I never see blinged-out baby pictures on Facebook anymore…

…Noah’s new friend’s Mom came up and is watching along. She has a giant neck tattoo. It says “Princess”. I’m not sure that word means what she thinks it means.

Then again, I could be wrong. I’ll take a look at Princess Kate’s neck next time the Paparazzi catches her at the right angle – maybe she has one to match.

…Ali’s found a friend, too. She looks oddly like Noah’s friend – they have the exact same hairdo.

…Ali’s friend’s Dad has come up to talk to me. Is he hitting on me? I ask if Noah’s friend is his, too. He laughs. “No, but they look like siblings!” …he has effectively distanced himself from Princess-Neck.

…The first Smocked Baby showed up at the playground. Her Mom is wearing leggings as pants. Ohhh…and now they’re taking pictures of Smock Baby with an iPad. WHERE IS YOUR PHONE PEOPLE. WHY DO YOU HAVE YOUR iPAD AT THE PLAYGROUND.

Madness.

…Another little kid is getting ready to be pushed by his Mom in the swing. “Momma, is my butt hangin’ out of the swing?”

“Well I dunno, son. Is it?”

She pushes him. Hard.

He begins to squeal, even drowning out fast-talking cell phone lady. “MY BUTT!! MY BUTT’S FALLIN’ OUTTA THE SWING!!! STOOOOP IT MY BUTTTTTT!!!”

…A fast-moving blur catches my eye on the sidewalk outside of the playground. I watch, fascinated and a little jealous. A Dad is riding a skateboard, pushing himself with a broomstick-like-thing, then using the broom to push a kid in front of him that is on a sitting scooter.

And they are BOOKING IT.

They’re going at least sixty miles an hour. Okay maybe ten.

Clearly, the mother is not at the playground today.

…Chris shows up to meet as at the playground, and Ali’s Friend’s Dad slinks off. Then eventually rejoins us and is now getting to know both of us. So maybe he wasn’t hitting on me. Who knows..

…Noah, who has been possessive of the one bouncy car on the playground the entire visit, is now being visited by twin blondes. This changes things. He hops out of the car and, with a huge grin, offers to bounce them in the car.

My goodness boys learn young. And what is it about twin blondes?

Playground

…A Lady in full Fairy Garb walks by. Sparkly antennas and all. She smiles and greets me, as bubbly as you could desire to be greeted by a fairy. And it is not Halloween.

And that’s a full day at the playground.

Which person were you?

The Great Alabama Outdoors.

So, camping.

The weather could not have been more perfect when we arrived to the annual family camping trip. They were the ideal conditions for asking your son to pose for a picture,IMG_1088

When in reality you’re trying to covertly snap a photo of your camping neighbors taking their dog for a walk…in a pink stroller.

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That pup was the most pampered being in that campground, always parked in front of the fan, “walked” to her heart’s content…

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But this camping trip wasn’t about dogs. It was about children, and the wonderland that is having a playground within eyesight and the freedom of coming and going by oneself,

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About being made to carry firewood,

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No matter what your age.

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About playing on the giant rocks in a creek bed that’s never been anything but dry,

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About heading to the playground before breakfast and before being de-pajamaed,

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And before anyone can force you to put your Crocs on the right feet.

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About playing happily with your cousins so that your parents can take a romantic and quiet walk around the campground without any little shadows getting in the way,

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About pulling your grandmother in every direction possible because we all know she’s the most fun person on a camping trip,

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And about sitting around the campfire with your Granddad while making up ghost stories.

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And, since Ali was there and Ali is never unprepared, it was about having a craft table set up and organizing all of your cousins as if you were the activities coordinator on a cruise ship.

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This might mean that you have your first Rainbow Loom disaster and major rubberband de-sorting, but it’s worth it anyway.

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This is our annual family camping trip. Always at the idyllic location of Buck’s Pocket State Park, low in the valley below Sand Mountain in North Alabama.

It’s a place where you take your dogs along to do the dishes,

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(Yes I gagged a little when I saw that,)

Where you force your children to go on long nature hikes,

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(Yes these “paths” were most definitely where we managed to pick up Poison Sumac,)

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Where you teach them how to climb trails that go straight up mountainsides,

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Where you have to come up with a satisfying explanation for the rock-writing along the trail – because after all, some kids can read,

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Where, on some parts of the trail, you wish you were as short as they were,

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And where the view at the top makes it all worth it.

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Well, at least for grownups.

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(But the cousin-to-cousin bonding of such shared trauma cannot be denied.)

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But this is also the place where my Mother has been hosting The World’s Best Treasure Hunt for over two decades and two generations, so all hiking can be forgiven.

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Because the ecstasy of getting your water balloon into a bucket a foot in front of you erases all negative memories.

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(As does finding a new best friend.)

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At night, there are glow sticks to be had, and light shows to be offered.

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But after the children are tucked snugly in their sleeping bags is when the real fun can be had – because the good chocolate comes out for the S’mores, there are glow sticks to burn,

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And fiery air-writing to attempt.

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And then, after all can be had of the State Park, there are new adventures to discover.

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Adventures that require walking up to a ledge and looking over –

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To discover what is sure to be one of Alabama’s most fantastic sights, High Falls Park.

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If ever there were a Troll Bridge, that has to be it.

And of course, there are sunsets.

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Wide, sweeping gigantic sunsets,

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Unbelievable overlooks in the middle of nowhere,

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And awe-inspiring paintings in the sky.

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Sunsets that leave the cows unimpressed,

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Because they see them every night.

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This is Alabama. Come visit us soon.

(And I might even take your dog’s picture while I’m pretending to take my son’s.)