Monday, September 15, 2008

DCMM: The New Ball and Chain

When I was in elementary school, there were two phone numbers in my file: my home number and my mom's work number. If the school needed to get in touch with my mom and she wasn't sitting next to one of those (non-cordless) phones, they were out of luck. They couldn't even leave a message because we didn't have an answering machine.

Wow. I think I just admitted that I am older than time.

Flash forward 25 a few years, and my kids' schools have no fewer than four phone numbers for them—and at least two e-mail addresses. If the school needs me, they can reach me. If, for some strange reason, I am not able to get my phone, I will find messages on at least two voice mails. I am literally at their beck and call.

I've been doing a good amount of thinking about my cell phone recently because my new kindergartner, Jack, is having some trouble adjusting to school. The first call on my cell phone came from the principal on the first day of school. The most recent came four days ago, when the school nurse called me to pick him up.

Because I've been averaging a call from the school every three or four days, and have had to pick Jack up early twice, I am afraid to be without my phone for even a second. I take it with me into the preschool for the 10 minutes when I'm picking up my youngest child. I take it with me into bathrooms. (But haven't had to use it there yet, thankfully.) I even take it with me when I'm waiting for Jack at the bus stop.

Last year, when my older son went to kindergarten, I tried to take my phone everywhere with me, but if I forgot it, it didn't seem like the end of the world.

In fact, I worried more that there would be some sort of disaster—an actual end of the world—and I wouldn't be able to get ahold of the school to collect my son from their fallout shelter. Or whatever it is they have now. I'm a little fuzzy on current end-of-the-world scenarios. Actually, the only thing I'm not fuzzy on is the fact that in case of a real emergency, my cell phone probably wouldn't work anyway.


There seems to be an assumption on the school's part that they will always be able to get in touch with me. Immediately. I am glad that the school can get in touch with me in an emergency, and I would rather carry a cell phone than have one of my sick children sit in a school health room all day, but how did we turn into a society where everyone is always available?

I just made the transition from usually available to always available this fall. I can't help but wonder if it is for better or for worse.

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