At last, we have new phones. No sticky fingerprints on them, no preschool apps downloaded yet. Our phones are still our own so far. Yup, mine mine mine — as a child would say.

Phones have undergone quite the transformation. From a novelty — as in my father’s days when they needed to go to the grocery store to make a call–to the common household “appliance” I grew up with–to a toy for grownups.

I remember when we first made the transition to a smartphone a couple of years ago. I spent days in a daze, downloading and experimenting with all sorts of apps I thought would be useful. I can’t recall what my children did with themselves during this time but I imagine they were fed and bathed and such. I guess Shabbos must have pulled me out of my stupor. [I still need to turn my phone off for Shabbos so I don’t accidentally use it]. I learned the hard way that most apps are not useful and just slow you down. I also begrudgingly need to admit to myself that constantly using my phone gives me a headache.

When I say “using the phone” I of course mean reading e-mails and news. I can never actually “use” a phone to make or answer phone calls. Too much background noise. Besides all the, “What did you say? WHAT?” conversations, my children have their own lovely additions, like informing me that someone’s diaper needs to be changed when I’m on the phone with someone important. Or choosing that moment to start making their own rock concert on my bed.

But my children have caught on to my ways. They, unfortunately, have learned that phones are not boring grownup business machines, but fun, musical, game playing items. And they insist on using it when they see me using it. I’ll admit this does cut down on the stuff I need to take with me to entertain them. I used to never leave the house without coloring materials and other toys that are good for on the go. Now, I have my trusty phone/children’s entertainment system. Much like a children’s toy, I can’t figure out how to turn off all the annoying noises my phone makes. Unlike children’s toys, where I can’t wait for the batteries to run out so it can stop making noises, phone batteries last a much shorter time and I find myself being stingy in using it to conserve the battery.

As for myself, I try to limit my time because I feel not having any free moments of non-reading, non-doing is not good for body/soul or socialization. So with my new phone, I have not gone on a downloading spree and I pretty much just carry it with me for emergencies, and scan e-mail a few times a day.

Even for that limited use, not being able to find your phone can be a very scary thing, especially when you’ve already left the house. Thankfully, it has never happened to me for long, but it does happen often. I wonder if my children have that same panic attack feeling when they can’t find a blanky or paper they drew. Luckily, at least while still at home, phones have a built in “find me” feature of calling the phone. If someone were to look at my call logs, it’s embarrassing how many phone calls I’ve made to myself. I just cannot separate from my toy.


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