Phone wars

By Mir
July 7, 2011

We bought Chickadee a new cell phone. (And by “bought” you understand I mean “picked her out a new purple one that was free on our plan.”) It was not long after she began texting more often that her phone starting having issues, so we figured we’d go ahead and upgrade her before that one broke entirely.

Now she texts all day long. She texts her friends. She texts me from the next room. She texts Otto the second he steps outside to ask what he’s doing. I’m pretty sure she’s developed callouses on her thumbs.

The only advantage is that she’s talking less, so if our phones are set to vibrate, the overall noise level is actually lower.

But I think we’ve discovered that just as driving and texting do not mix, neither do sugar and texting.

Last night we went out for frozen yogurt after dinner. The drive there was perfectly pleasant, but as soon as we sat down outside with our dessert, Chickadee started texting. My phone went BINGBING!

yum! this is soooo good!

“Dude,” I said, poking her. “I AM SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. That hole in your face, the one you’re shoveling food into? It also works as a communication device.”

She insisted that no, it didn’t. Back to her phone she went. BINGBING! went Otto’s phone.

“I’m not even looking,” he said.

In the car on the way home, she texted me. BINGBING! I ignored her. She texted again. BINGBING! I looked, and the second one was asking if I’d read the first one. I texted back “Nope.” and put my phone away. Which unleashed this series:

Did you read my text?
How about now?
Pleeeeeeeeeeeease read it?
Did you read it yet?
You should check your phone.

Finally I could stand it no longer. I took out my phone.

The next text I receive, I am taking your phone away.

A chime sounded on Chickadee’s phone and she said “Yay!” Then she read the text. “Oh, no,” she said, with deeply theatrical sadness. “THIS IS TERRIBLE!”

She then texted Otto.

Without taking his eyes off the road, Otto said, “Chickadee, texting while driving is dangerous and illegal. SO I AM SURE YOU ARE NOT TEXTING ME WHILE I’M DRIVING. Also, no more texts tonight. At all.”

“Ohhhhhhh…” she whined.

All was silent for a few blessed seconds. Then there was some whispering and giggling.

And then my phone began to ring.

I turned around to peer into the backseat, and both kids cracked up. “STOP IT,” I said.

“SHHHHHHH!” Chickadee said. “Can’t you see I’m ON THE PHONE? Oh, hang on, you’re not there. I’ll have to leave you a message. HIIIII MOM! IT’S CHICKIE! Call me back when you get a chance, okay? BYYYEEEEE!”

I was still trying to stop laughing when Otto’s phone started ringing.

“Heeeeeeyyyyyy OTTO! It’s CHICKIE! Call me back later, okay? I really wanna talk to you! Okay, byyyyeeeeee!”

It turns out that Otto can drive perfectly well while rolling his eyes. I had no idea.

I figured it was all over, then, but she also left a message on our home answering machine. “Heeeeeeey GUYS! I guess you’re not HOME! It’s CHICKIE and you should totally call me back!” Except, I can’t convey in writing what this sounded like, because by this time she was trying so hard not to laugh that she was… sort of… drawing out words and sort of semi-growling…? It defies explanation. The closest I can come is by telling you that she sounded sort of like Bobcat Goldthwait, if Bobcat Goldthwait had pigtails and a purple cell phone and a marked inability to LET A JOKE GO ALREADY.

This morning I took her with me to a doctor’s appointment, and I got called back to have my blood drawn. I’d barely plopped myself into the seat when my phone went BINGBING!

I miss you.

I have created a monster.


  1. The Dalai Mama

    Thank you for giving me more ammunition to hold firm that my kids will not get cell phones until they are 16. I know that might be dangerous with the driving and all–I want to find one of those old bag phones that were all the rage in like 1994–let them try to text on that.

  2. Varda (SquashedMom)

    I look to your posts like into a crystal ball… seeing my future. Mr almost 9-year-old Ethan has been lobbying for a phone for… well, since he could talk.

    For his birthday he’s getting our old, spare “babysitter phone” (don’t ask, getting rid of it would make our family plan more expensive somehow). It’s a dinosaur – just phone calls, no internet, no texting. But it does take (lo res) photos. He knows he’s on a limit and may only call the numbers I will program in… his family and a few select friends houses & parent’s cells.

    He’s thrilled beyond belief, but I’m afraid I’m creating a monster and it will be hard to hold him to the limits (what with the ADD & poor impulse control & all). We’ll see……

  3. Erika

    My little guy (7) doesn’t have his own cell phone, but his Grammy taught him how to use hers to call us during a recent week-long visit. After I picked him up we went to my sister’s for fireworks. After the fireworks he really wanted to call someone. It was late so I told him he could only call his Aunt who was in the front seat of the car we were also in. So he did. He did it on speakerphone and her car works as a bluetooth so everything he said echoed all over the car. He, of course, thought that was hilarious. Luckily the car ride home was pretty short so he was only able to all 7 more times. Also luckily, my sister has a really good sense of humor and my BIL can drive while rolling his eyes.

  4. Stimey

    I am dying of laughter because, although I m 38, I am still that girl who doesn’t know when the joke has stopped being funny. The great thing I have learned, however, is that if, once it is no longer funny, you keeeeeep pushing just a liiiiiiittle bit farther? It’s suddenly funny again. (Until it is abruptly not funny, but that’s a whole other thing.)

    I always thought have a kid (Quinn) who never stops talking was tough. I can’t imagine if he had even more methods of communication.

    Great post, great kid of yours!

  5. meghann

    My husband and I are guilty of texting each other when we are sitting at the same table. USUALLY though, it’s because our kids or someone else is there, and what we have to say we don’t want heard by the other parties present. Other times, we’re just being big dorks.

  6. Frank

    If you hear snickers and snorts… I swear they are meant to be WITH you… not AT you….

  7. Little Bird

    I communicate with my mom via text sometimes when I am traveling. What makes it funny is that she hasn’t figured out how to disable the auto-correct. And her multiple attempts to get around it. I almost died when she tried to tell me the car they had rented was a Ford Explorer. Exploder, Explosion, Exeter. It took her SEVEN tries. The people who were on the shuttle bus with me must have thought I was more than a little off. I absolutely HOWLED when she started cursing via text.

  8. Heather

    Wellll….at least she’s communicating? ;)

  9. Celeste

    My teenaged kids no longer call me for any reason. Even to be picked up at school. I keep saying, “If it’s urgent, then CALL!” Texts, to me, do not signify urgency.

    On the other hand, I was able to reduce the minutes on my phone plan.

  10. Angela

    LOVE THIS. says the mom of a 14yr old boy with a nice, new texting phone as well!

  11. Beth R

    Well, beating a dead joke got David Letterman where he is today, why not Chickie?

  12. s

    my 12 yr old has been campaigning heavily for a cell phone. She does have text via her itouch but apparently she NEEDS a phone and I am SO mean and EVERYONE else has one, she is the only one going into middle school WITHOUT a phone and HOW can I be so MEAN!!

    how? because the other day, even though I have TOLD them not to text me since I have a dinosaur plan on my cellphone, which I only use for emergencies and very limited other calls (I have minimal minutes and a true aversion for the regular phone, so certainly don’t enjoy using my cell), my daughter and her friend texted me a photo of the crease between your arm and torso, basically the fold of their armpit – they think its so hysterical since it looks like a butt crack. And she asked when she got home why didn’t I text back, huh? and I just replied THIS is why I see no reason you should have a cellphone – armpit crack pictures.

  13. elz

    OMG LOL! My husband will text me from downstairs. I guess it makes sense since he is a 13 year old boy at heart…

  14. Chuck

    I honestly don’t understand the popularity of texting with teens. My younger nephew can do his one-handed, without looking at the keypad – and he has a ten-digit phone with no keyboard. Ah well, thank goodness for unlimited texting plans.

  15. Cele

    Ack! I refuse to start texting, infact I have texting blocked on my account. That is just far to “reachable”.

  16. My Kids Mom

    On the other hand, there are lots of times that face to face conversations between moms (parents) and (pre)teens is difficult. Texting each other might help bridge that communication gap.

    I got a new phone last week and have been sending my first ever texts. My babysitter taught me how. Dang I’m old. I don’t use thumbs tho- pointy fingers or just finger. Does this mean I’m doing it “wrong”?

  17. Katherine

    @s, my 12 yo doesn’t have a phone yet either, but luckily he isn’t campaigning hard yet. My 15 yo only got one for Christmas, of his freshman year. He is on a pay as you go with unlimited texts and data, but “only” 300 minutes. Turns out he doesn’t use that many minutes. He complained at me when I texted him (from my iPod touch) from the living room last night, but he hadn’t answered when I yelled at him.

  18. Nelson's Mama

    My oldest daughter and I had gone through a really few years and when she left for college last fall she started texting me – I wouldn’t take anything in this world for those conversations. She still isn’t big on long phone conversations…but texting gives her just enough distance that I get to hear what she needs to say and I can hand out some of the advice that she needs from me.

    I happen to think that technology is great; our kids got their first phones for OUR piece of mind and convenience, not the other way around.

  19. Laura

    I can’t let a joke go, either, and I find her texts HILARIOUS and I want to copy her.

  20. addy

    4th of july early am my 21-y-o home from college daughter sends text downstairs to ask what time movie starts and does she need to get dressed yet..ya for reals she did this – it never stops

  21. jwg

    May I point out that if you turned your phone off at the dinner table and any other time you don’t need it or don’t want to receive texts she wouldn’t be able to annoy you. Jusy sayin…

  22. Karate Mom

    You all have such a great sense of humor! And I’m totally in the “can’t let a joke go” camp, as is my son. Or maybe all 8-year-olds can’t let a joke go…but then what’s my excuse?

  23. Megan

    I got out of giving my daughter a phone for YEARS by mentioning that the sole reason – the one and only reason – for a teen to have a phone was so that her parent could reach out and find her absolutely anywhere, anywhen. Somehow the idea that I would have god-like powers of knowing just what she was up to really dampened her enthusiasm. [heh, even MORE god-like powers. She already thought I was pretty nearly omniscient, bless her]. In the end I got all my kids phones for that very reason – I needed to be able to know that I could find ’em whenever I wanted ’em. LOVE cell phones – they are a single, slightly neurotic, mum’s bestest friend ever!

  24. Aimee

    Heh. Yup, you’ve created a monster! Congrats, Dr. Frankenstein. It’s a girl!

  25. el-e-e

    Oh, my dear lord. It’s just a phase, it’s just a phase, it’s just a phase…. (Just like when they’re toddlers, right??)

  26. liz

    This is adorable.

  27. Daisy

    When she’s older and away at college you might enjoy the texting bit. My daughter and I used to text through Green Bay Packers games when we couldn’t watch them together. It was harder on me, with my arthritic thumbs!

  28. Karen

    My boyfriend and I text all the time when we are in the same room. This is further proof that I haven’t mentally matured past a middle school girl. :-)

  29. Susan Getgood

    Remember my ringtone – my son singing “the chocolate dance.” That was a message left on the home phone from the Verizon store while we were picking out new phones a coupe years ago.

    Doug is 11, and has had a phone since he was 7. But he leaves it off except to make calls, and he knows it is largely for emergencies. As more of his friends have phones, that may change and he’s already been after rme for a smart phone. The answer to that is “you can have one when you can pay for it yourself.”

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