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Old fashioned?

September 15, 2008

by Jen Bakken

It happened twice last week.

One would think I’d have been more careful after the first time, but no – I overslept two mornings in a row.

The first time, I woke up, and it was still rather dark outside, so there was no immediate clue that it wasn’t our usual wake up time.

It was a rainy, gloomy day, and when I looked at the time, I realized there were 15 minutes to get the three of us out the door.

Looking at my cell phone, which also serves as our alarm clock, I couldn’t figure out what had happened.

Had I set the alarm for p.m. instead of a.m.? Did I shut it off instead of hit snooze?

There wasn’t time to figure out what went wrong, and it didn’t matter, because at that point, there were only minutes to get us fed, dressed, then to school and work on time.

While rushing about, I kept thinking about my cell phone and its alarm. The phone is new to me. My son got a new phone, and I took his old one.

New technology sometime presents a challenge to us. Well, it does to me anyway. It seems the older I get, the more complicated things get, or the more difficult it is to learn new things.

Since I had my old cell phone for over a year, I was almost a pro at using it. I could depend on the alarm, knew the ins and outs of its menu and could text as fast as a high-schooler.

The new phone, however, immediately became a source of frustration for me.

One day I called my son, who is away at college, and asked, “Hey, how in the heck do I get this phone to stop vibrating?”

Though I had figured out how to change the ringer so that it didn’t sound like that Kung-Fu Fighting song, I didn’t know how to shut off the vibrating mode.

Another time I asked him to tell me how predictive text messaging worked. When I typed a text message, a list of words kept popping up, and I didn’t know how to use them or make them go away.

He laughed at me. I gave up on trying to use predictive texting and went back to the old way of typing each individual letter. Should that be called old fashioned texting?

Is this a sign of my age? Is it common to need your children to help you understand how to work a cell phone or some other piece of new technology?

I believe it is, because my dad struggles with his cell phone too, and actually asks people not to leave him voicemails so he doesn’t have to try and figure out how to get them.

Recently, even a TV remote became troublesome to me. While trying to set a new universal remote, I became so frustrated I tossed the 20 page instruction manual across the living room and called a help desk.

But, back to the hectic start to the day. Though we had seriously overslept that morning, I managed to get us out the door. One child was dropped off at the middle school, the other at the elementary school, and while pulling into the parking lot at work, I let out a sigh of relief.

Should I have felt pride or guilt? Should I have been proud that we were able to rush through our morning routine in 15 minutes rather than an hour, or ashamed that I wasn’t sure if the kids had brushed their teeth?

Should I have realized that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we were late one morning and the more important issue was figuring out how to use my phone and alarm?

Rather than give much more thought to it, I went about my day as usual. The kids didn’t seem too frazzled by oversleeping or being rushed that morning.

But, when the next morning it happened again, we were all frustrated to be in a hurry.

My 11-year-old complained, “Geez mom, do you want me to show you how to use your phone and alarm so we don’t keep oversleeping?”

My 8-year-old daughter shared her annoyance with, “Geez mom, I can’t get ready this fast. It’s all your fault!”

Though I know my daughter was completely correct in her statement, I refused to have my fifth grader teach me how to use a phone!

I will wait till my oldest comes home from college. He will help me, and even though I’m sure he will make fun of me – at least I’ll end up waking up on time.

And, until then, I’ll be going back to an old alarm clock. One that plugs in, and one that I know how to use. The old fashioned kind.