By Rebecca Hastings of My Ink Dance
There’s a talk I’ve been meaning to have with my kids. It’s serious. Maybe the kind I should sit all three of them on the couch for, side by side, so I can look them each in the eyes. I think they’ve heard pieces of what I need to tell them, but never the whole thing.
There was this time, it was way back in the 1900’s, when we didn’t have cell phones, internet, or even cordless phones.
(I watch them try to process this, heads tilting slightly to the side.)
Do you understand what I’m saying? When I wanted to know if a friend was wearing a certain thing to school, I had to go in my kitchen, right there where my parents were making dinner and doing parent things. I had to reach over to the wall and pick up a phone that was attached to the box on the wall with a twisty cord. It was only ten feet, so I was stuck in the kitchen. Or just outside the doorway if I stretched the cord really tight.
I had to dial seven numbers to call her. No, these were not saved as a contact in the phone. I had to remember the number for every person I wanted to call. As I waited for someone to answer, I had to be ready for anything, even talking to her parents.
If my friend answered, it wasn’t so bad, but sometimes her parents or her brother would answer and I had to actually talk to them.
“Hi, this is Becky. Is Sarah there?”
It was terrible.
And then she would get on the phone and we would chat. We had to be careful, though. At any point someone could hear us, or worse, pick up another phone in the house and listen in. Siblings seemed to be great at that.
(They elbow one another, imagining listening to each other’s calls. It’s funny to them because it’s like a fable. They’ve never had their brother hear that they had a crush on a certain boy at school and then have him taunt them about it until they cleaned his room to keep him quiet.
My youngest raises a hand, as if in school. Clearly she is taking this seriously. “Why didn’t you just text her?” she says. And in that moment I want to hold her little face and say, “Oh, sweetie.”)
Those phones didn’t have texting. Texting didn’t exist.
(This settles like a rock in a lake, and I watch the ripples as they process this.)
There was no texting. No emojis. No private phone lines. No talking wherever you want. Just that phone in the kitchen.
Eventually, I got my own phone in my room, but that was still risky. Anyone could pick up another phone in the house and hear everything.
(Their eyes are wide with disbelief. It’s time to go all the way.)
We also didn’t have internet. Actually, we didn’t even have computers. In high school I got my first computer, and internet was not what it is today.
(“How did you find stuff out?” asks my son.)
Well, we had to use books. We had to look things up. Go to the library every time we needed a random fact about seahorses for a report. We had to wait and ask the teacher if we didn’t understand how to do our homework.
(“What about the weather? I ask Alexa what the weather is every day. How would I know?” they say. I want to be snarky. But I resist. This is a different world I’m describing.)
You looked outside. Stepped outside to see how cold it was. You could even turn on the TV and wait for the weather to be reported on the morning news. It was usually every eight minutes or so. It wasn’t bad.
(“Mom, this sounds crazy.”)
That’s only because it’s not what you know. You know what was crazy? When I had a five page report due and I had to write it on real paper. In cursive.
Yup. Or what about when I wanted to show my friend a picture. I had to take the picture. Actually 24 pictures. Then wind up the film and drop it off or send it in the mail to be developed. After that I would wait a few days or a week and get an envelope with all 24 pictures. And I had to hope one came out the way I wanted. Then I had to carry that picture with me to show my friend.
(“How did you take a selfie? What did they do about filters?”)
We didn’t and there were none.
(“Whoa.” They all get quiet for a few moments and I just look at them; they were so unaware. Finally, my oldest speaks: “I’m so grateful we have this stuff, Mom.”)
I smile and nod. Yes. Good talk, kids. Good talk. My work is done.
About the Author
Rebecca traded the classroom for writing when she stayed home with her three children. Passionate about authenticity, faith, and family, she now writes regularly at www.myinkdance.com. She has also been featured on multiple sites including the The Washington Post, For Every Mom, The Mighty and Scary Mommy. Her first book, Worthy, is available on Amazon. A wife and mother of three in Connecticut, she writes imperfect and finds faith along the way. Follow Rebecca on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.