I looked up at him… “Son, are you ready?” I asked, studying the face of the handsome young man standing before me. His beard was well trimmed, hair clean cut, and face alight with that dimpled smile that brought back endless memories of ‘my little boy.’
“Yes, Mom,” he replied. He bent forward and I draped his head with the gown that I had hand-pressed the day before. He stood fully clad in front of the mirror. It was time to go. I had an eternal moment, then. Memories of ‘the journey’ flooded my mind and all l could feel was gratitude.
I remembered that day, back when he was in the First Form (Seventh Grade), he came home looking rather solemn. I took one look at him and I knew that something was on his mind; I was right.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he responded.
“Talk to me,” I reassured him. “You know you can tell me and Daddy, anything.” He sighed and responded,
“Those boys…we were having a discussion in class today, and because I said I do not own a cell phone they started saying things about me.”
I listened silently then called my husband who was in another room. We anticipated this and we wanted to reassure him that we were there to support him always. That day we asked him three important questions:
“Son, are you miserable?”
“No,” he responded.
“Do you have friends at school?”
“Yes, I have a few,” he said. We knew that he desired a cell phone so we asked him,
“Why do you think you should have a cell phone?” After a lengthy pause he replied,
“…but Mommy, everybody has one.” Dissatisfied with that response we asked for another reason so he said, “So that I can call my friends…”
I smiled and looked at his father then I proceeded to speak to our son. I told him that after spending most of his day in the company of his friends at school, he would be fine if they did not interact for a few hours until the next day. Our son was involved in afternoon sports and drumming classes which allowed him extra time to mingle with friends. I explained to him that having a cell phone comes with responsibilities which include: costs and effective time management. We wanted to minimize the distractions guaranteed with ownership of a cell phone. It was important to us to have him understand that cell phones are not ‘bad,’ but he owning one at that time was not a priority.
He was disappointed that he would not own a phone anytime soon, but we convinced him that he would survive.
This incident was one among several during his years of High School. He had never been a follower, and though reserved by nature, exuded a quiet boldness which upset some of his peers. He earned the title of ‘snitch,’ because he would ‘tell’ when no one else would; when the class was in uproar in the absence of a teacher, he would be the one to alert the office staff. He was regarded as ‘strange’ when he frowned on the inappropriateness of certain teachers’ so-called jokes. There was that time in Third Form (9th Grade) when he returned from school really upset. He did not wait to be asked what the matter was, but he blurted out,
“I am fed up of that school!” I was very concerned. I listened while he related the incident which involved a teacher asking who owned a cell phone. When my son was the only one whose hand was not raised, the teacher questioned him, asking why he did not have a cell phone. Before my son could respond one of his classmates quickly interjected, “He does not have anything…no phone, no email address…”
My son was upset by his classmate’s comments. After all, he did own a tablet and had an email address set up for school purposes. At that moment, I reminded him of our prior discussion. I was still at my workplace, so I could not engage the support of my husband then, but I asked him again.
“Why do you think you should own a cell phone?” wanting to satisfy me this time, he took a while to think then replied,
“So I could call you and Daddy.”
“Call us for what?” I asked.
“So you could know where I was.” He said.