Reminding Myself Why I Can’t Text Message My Son

April 14, 2012 at 4:41 pm , by 

16 months.

Have you ever tried to text your toddler? If nothing else, I would like a phone app to translate all the speaking in tongues he does.

Yesterday during my lunch break at work I was taking a walk outside and thought to myself, “I should text Jack and see how his day is going.” I reached for my phone in my pocket and as I was pulling it out, it hit me: For more than one reason, I can’t text message my son.

I would start with the most obvious reason, but there is a serious problem there with that. Because which one is the most obvious?

Would it be the fact that my 16 month-old son doesn’t have have a working cell phone? Or that he doesn’t know how to use one?

Maybe it’s that he doesn’t know how to spell too well?

Nah, I think the fact that he and I can’t actually carry on a real conversation that doesn’t involve an animal sound, may be the winner.

I’m curious to know if having to remind myself that I can’t text message my toddler is a pretty universal thing.

When I mentioned this story to my wife yesterday, she quickly admitted she has done the exact same thing; perhaps more than once.

Subconsciously, I must be resisting this concept that even though Jack and I can’t talk to each other yet, it’s like that new TV show Touch, where a mute boy communicates with this father by using numbers: That the exception to a normal conversation in our case is texting.

Honestly, it sounds like a good idea to me.

I mean, I carry around this little man with me (and that’s often how I perceive him, not in that cute “that’s my little man” sort of way that’s popular to refer to your son, but literally an actual man who happens to speak like Chewbacca or Curious George) in my car for a round trip daily total of about 80 minutes a day and constantly entertain him all weekend.

In my own real life version of Bosom Buddies, I wish there was at least this cool/comical sci-fi twist where I could text message my son:

“Hey son hows ur day goin?”

“Good so far_ outside playn wit my bud Henry.”

“C any birds?”

“Yeah like 5 rite now on the fence_ They fly away evry time I run near them.”

“R they Angry Birds?”

“LOL. I think it just peed in my diaper. Not sure if its bc of ur joke or not. Gotta go. Peace out Ghost Dad.”

“Later Sonny Sonnerton.”

Currently Uber Popular Status Update Phrases: “Dear [Inanimate Object, Abstract Idea, or Business]”, Followed by a Hypothetical Question

Dear facebook status, how did I survive before you came along?

Dear Organic Baby Carrier, when will you stop making me feel like a man who has been castrated?


Nobody likes a whiner, right?  Well, now thanks to this uber popular status update method, you can complain while sounding “cute” and funny.  This formula can also be used to say you like something- but in a more creative way.  Just address a subject that will never actually see your status update or even have the ability to respond, then ask a question that either has no real answer or an implied answer. Here are a few examples:

“Dear Starbucks, what would I ever do with you?”

“Dear teenager in the car in front of me who is texting, when will you realize what you are doing is going to get you in an accident? Ugh!”

“Dear Friday, why were you late this week?”

It’s really that simple.  In fact, this format of a status update is so popular that there’s a good chance that at any given moment of the day, you will not be able to read your entire status update page without seeing it used at least once, in some form.  Now, get to work.  Use the formula and you too can appear to be creative, funny, and “cute”.  (Also works well on Twitter.)

“Dear [Inanimate Object, Abstract Idea, or Business]”, Followed by a Hypothetical Question

Leaving a Voicemail Vs. Text Messaging

It’s never been easier to communicate with people on the phone,  but it’s still as complicated as it’s always been when the person doesn’t pick up the phone.  Though it really doesn’t have to be…

Something I’m pretty horrible at is listening to and erasing voicemails.  At work, about once every week I get a message from Nick Burns, my company’s computer guy, saying I need to erase my messages- the average of my unlistened to and unerased messages is typically around 88.  And currently on my personal cell phone there are about four voicemails waiting to be listened to and erased.  I just don’t know when I’ll get around to it.  It’s homework.

Maybe I can blame it on my generation; I’m stuck in the middle of two of them.  I was born in April of 1981, the final year for Generation X (1961-1981).  Generation Y began nine months later (1982-1995).  I’m sure I inherited a shared amount of traits from both generations, but the tendency to put off what is irrelevant is linked to both generations.

This is how my mind processes communication regarding a cell phone: “If it’s important, they’ll text me.”  Which is different than what is typical with Baby Boomers (1946-1964) who think, “If it’s important, they will call and leave a voicemail if I’m not available”.

The easiest way to communicate with me is via text message.  I respond within 60 seconds because my phone is always right next to me.  As for a voicemail, I may not ever respond.  I strongly don’t believe in having a landline phone because it encourages people to leave voicemails and if a person really needed to talk to me they would reach me through my cell phone.  By texting.

Of course, there are times for actual conversations.  But when I see a missed call, I’m going to return the call anway.

Just as a reminder to those who haven’t yet realized why voicemails are so awful:

1)     To check them, you have to call your voicemail box.

2)     You have to punch in your password.

3)     You have to listen to the voicemail which is essentially someone telling you to call them back.

When I call someone and they don’t pick up, I just hang up.  Because obviously they will see on their phone that I tried to call.  Then I’ll instantly text them in abbreviated form what I needed to talk to them about.

There are so many minutes of our time that we’ll never get back, having been wasted on listening to not only the person I am calling explain to me on a recorded message that they’re unavailable right now but to leave a message and they’ll call me back, but then have to listen to the Verizon lady go through all the options, including  hearing her talk about leaving a “callback number”.

For the times we must endure having to leave someone a voicemail, there should be a new official sound we hear that would soon become as universally recognizable as Mario dying when he falls in a hole in Super Mario Bros.  Just a two-second blip that we all know means “leave a message beginning right now”.

That’s the world that I want to live in.

For a related post by the same author, read TMTT (Too Much Trouble to Talk).

TMTT (Too Much Trouble to Talk)

According the September 19, 2008 issue of the New York Times, in America there are now more text messages transmitted through cell phones than actual calls. It almost seems hard to believe, but that’s probably because I am assuming it’s only me that’s texting more times a day than calling. But maybe for once, I’m normal…

For some reason, I like those black-and-white commercials for Sprint featuring personal messages from the CEO, Dan Hesse. In the commercial where he’s at the café, he tell us, “It’s amazing we still call these things ‘phones’, considering all they can do.” He’s right. That reminds me of Ernest (the one that goes to camp, jail, etc.) who one time talked about all the cool features his watch had: flashlight, can opener, calculator, etc. The only problem is, he couldn’t figure out how to make it tell time.

I’ve got the Samsung version of the i-Phone and yes, it does everything. But I mainly got it because of the full keyboard for texting. (I think as an English major, it’s hard for me to purposely misspell words even when texting- it feels sinful.)  It’s becoming pretty clear to me:  it’s just become too much trouble to talk.

For me, it all started with the fact I hate checking voicemails. It’s a lot of trouble: Go to your voicemail. Enter your password. Listen to old voicemails you haven’t erased. Listen to the actual new voicemail. Erase it. Call the person back. Yikes!

And leaving a voicemail isn’t much better because you have to listen to that annoying speech that’s not news to you: “The person you are calling is unavailable. If you would like to page this person, press 5. If you would like to leave a voicemail, press 1. If you would like to leave a call-back number, press 4…” Come on! Who actually pages someone on a cell phone? Instead I text them. They shouldn’t make me listen to that instructional message. It should just say, “Leave a message”. Then I could save 45 seconds.

I realize this all may be a little biased in that I’m a guy and I communicate like a man, not a woman. A man communicates to exchange facts. A woman communicates to strengthen her relationships with the people in her life. But still, texting helps both genders accomplish their goals in their communication needs.

Speaking of communication (unfortunate pun), I’ve noticed a definite pattern in online networking sites. Everybody thought MySpace was cool at first. Then came the creeps and the spam. And it was too hard to know who “The Big Kenny” or “Georgia Princess” is. So we all converted our allegiance to facebook. And yes, facebook is unbeatable. It’s very easy to find the “friends” and it keeps you posted on any news with your them. Why? So we don’t have to ask them ourselves…

Not only do I not need to call Alex Igou but I don’t really even have to send him a message on facebook. I can just look at his “info” and learn where he lives, where he went to college, and if he’s married now. And if there is any other important info I would need to know, like that he’s going back home to Fort Payne, AL this weekend, he will put that in the “Alex is” section and that’ll show up on my news feed.

It’s just too easy not to talk to people.   And I think for that very reason, now more than ever, I have this desire to actually spend time with people. There is a major amount of “catching up” with someone that I just can’t do through a phone call, text, or facebook transaction. Maybe with enough hang time, I can slowly learn to talk again.