The Internet has made the world a smaller place. But has it brought us closer together? I don't call my friends and family for advice as much as I once did. In fact, forget about calling them — a text is easier.
I was just sitting here listening to Christmas music — a Luther Vandross song. And a random question popped into my head regarding a singer and if she had started as one of Luther's backup singers. I lost my mind for a moment and thought to call my brother. A second later I thought to text him. And finally — 2.7 seconds later I had the answer on Google.
It was a missed opportunity to hear his voice — maybe even get sidetracked about the Christmas music we'd listened to as kids. We both would have said the same thing, "Remember the Johnny Mathis album where he's wearing skis on the cover?" We knew that complete album by heart. Even to this day while listening to it on CD I know where every "skip" occurred on the old vinyl LP. But we never got the chance to talk about that.
Sometimes I'll see my cell phone ring with my dad's name on the screen. I have poor cell reception in the house so I can’t answer. I could call him back on the landline, but I text him instead. The 20 minute conversation about something I wrote last week is diminished to a few lines of text.
My sister and I email. She doesn't have texting. They have a beautiful home and nice vehicles — just no texting. Sometimes I'll think of something I want to tell her, but as I get ready to call ... I’ll stop ... and then move along to another thought. It’s pitiful ... I know.
My wife doesn't text. In fact, I’m not sure she really understands it all that well. She hardly even uses her cell phone. Whenever she wonders why we don’t “communicate” like we used to, I offer to teach her how to master the art of the text. When I need to reach her at work I have to page her. I hate paging. It involves several number sequences that I can never seem to get right. One wrong digit and the pages are returned by a busy heart surgeon or oncologist. I'm hoping that I'll never need either of them, but at least they already know who I am.
My older kids actually DO call sometimes, and I'll immediately think that something is wrong. Back when I was a much younger father — that was often the case. The oldest three have endured enough bad news to last them quite a while. Without sounding too morbid, I'm hoping it'll be at least 40 years until they get their final bit of bad news regarding me. It will most likely be a text (if time permits) from beneath my old-guy bicycle somewhere out on the bike trail, "My dearest children — I am about to pedal my final miles on the wings of angels. Do not be sad. Just ask the town to fix the damn pothole in the pavement so this doesn't happen to some other old fool. Show them that my $189 helmet split completely in half! And please do not fight over the iPhone and bike. I love you forever."
The Boy and I often text back and forth, mostly to keep track of each other. He’s the last kid left in the house so I can actually concentrate on just him. He’s recently fallen in love with cycling. Little by little we are paying off a road bike that he’s getting as a Christmas gift. Hopefully we’ll be able to bail it out of the bike shop holding cell next week.
"The world lies right beyond the handlebars of any bicycle."
~Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles
Cycling has been a passion of mine for almost 30 years. I’m not sure that I can properly explain what it will be like for me to share with him the adventures that only a bicycle can offer. The only way we’ll need to text is when he gets so far ahead of me on the road that I can’t find him.
At 13, he’s got legs as strong as pillars. With pistons like that he’s got visions of eventually doing some road racing. I’m just waiting to do some charity rides and complete our first “century” (100 miles) together. Due to a very serious ankle condition, cycling is about the only endurance activity that I can participate in. That’s all the more reason for me to be as excited as I am about him embracing it as he has.
"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race."
~H. G. Wells
I hope this holiday season finds you discovering or rediscovering an activity that once made you lose sleep in anticipation of its arrival. Even more than that, I hope it’s something you can share and enjoy with your child.
Maybe it’s a bike ride, fishing trip, or kite-flying getaway. Or perhaps it’s as simple as a picnic and a few rounds of Hangman.
It often seems like other moms and dads get to interact with our kids more than we do. It gets frustrating sometimes. We all can’t be coaches. But all we need to do is identify that one special activity that transcends all others. It becomes an event all on its own because it happens during the “in-between” time that we have with them.
Maybe the next text will be, “Im hngn ot W parNts ttyl”