Talk-to-Text

Writing 101, Day 7: Let social media inspire you. In this case, texting rather than tweeting.

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On Friday night, my boyfriend discovered the talk-to-text feature on my phone. He was texting my daughter who had just finished her evening performance of “Our Town,” and I needed to let her know we were on our way to pick her up. “Oh look, I can say something!” he announced as he pushed the microphone button and recorded his message. Because he had been privy to J’s iMessage voice recordings to her step-sister on her iPad, he thought he was familiar with this feature. I believe he thought it would send a recorded message that J could listen to.

Instead, it translated his recording into a text message, one that made little sense. He read the first to me. “Hello just seen we are on our way the by.” I glanced over just as he hit “send.”

“Did you just send that message?” I asked, watching his reaction while trying to keep my eye on the road ahead. He looked at me sheepishly and nodded.

“It’s fine,” he said. “It’ll be fine.”

I turned back to the road, shaking my head. “She doesn’t know you’re with me, so she won’t know why I am texting,” I said. The thought was meant for him, but it was pretty clear I was speaking to myself. In my peripheral vision, I could see him playing with the microphone button, holding the phone near his mouth again.

He was like a kid with a new toy. He recorded a long message, then read it back. “Is a new place not called our house call to you or town whilst turn it I am actually talking English probably my accent I’m not sure goodbye a deal spot lab what’s in.” And as soon as he finished reading, he hit send again.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING??” I laughed. I wanted to take my phone back, but I was actually somewhat amused. By this point, I knew that J would realize it wasn’t me texting, so I was exonerated of all responsibility. He recorded another message and sent it, then another. “Are those messages even making any sense?” I asked. He had stopped reading them to me before he sent them.

“Not much. She’ll figure it out.” Yeah… I doubt anyone would figure out those messages!

When we pulled up in front of the high school, the last few drama students were out in front waiting for their rides. It was a beautiful night, unseasonably warm. I rolled down my window. J was holding her phone. “Guess who discovered talk-to text?” I asked, and we all burst out laughing.

The Dog

The expiration of the dog has come full circle.

Ever since my daughter went away to camp for the first time, and the paperwork said not to send mail that contained sad news (i.e. an announcement that the dog died), our non-existent dog has died each year while the kids are at camp. At some point during their week away, I send a letter announcing that the dog has died, and the kids are amused (although sometimes their bunk mates are horrified!). The expiration of the dog has been an ongoing joke for five years now.

This year, in a strange twist of events, I was the one who went away from home. J and I traveled out of state for an athletic competition. The boys were busy with their own activities back at home, so my boyfriend stayed with them, and kept them company.

When the kids go away, it has been my pattern to wait until a few days have gone by before I deliver any news about the dog. When I left, however, C couldn’t wait to tell me about the dog. Apparently, he felt the need to get it out of his system right away. Perhaps he thought he might forget as the week went by.

I had barely landed and settled in my hotel room halfway across the country when the message came. And it was a doozy of a message! Just in case you thought we’d be all right, Mom, here are some of the things you feared could go wrong. Oh, and the dog died.

Interestingly, when I got to the part about the dog, I knew that everything was under control, and I could relax. This trip was the first time that I had left home for more than a brief while, and I was on edge, concerned about what would go on in my absence. I had voiced my anxiety to the boys in the days leading up to my trip.

As it turned out, I had little to fear. The boys are older; my boyfriend is competent; and just maybe my neighbors were doing a little “neighborhood watch” in my absence….

But I’m glad ‘the dog died’ early in the week. That message relieved me of my worries!

Feast or famine

“There’s some Danish there you can have for breakfast,” I told the first child to the kitchen this morning.

“I saw it, but that’s not what I want. I’m going to have cereal,” my youngest said as he reached into the cabinet for a bowl. He opened the refrigerator and pulled out the milk.

“More than likely, no one will want the Danish. Your brother’s been looking for breakfast food all week. Now that we actually have something other than cereal, he’ll choose something else.” W smiled, knowing this was a real possibility. In fact, what my oldest has been seeking are the 26 muffins I didn’t buy him last week after our text exchange.

The text exchange went like this: I asked a simple question—a question about breakfast, asked via text because kids communicate via text anyway. I would have asked in person if I had been there. I would have waited to ask. But the fact was, I was at work and planned to stop at the grocery store on my way home. So I asked a reasonable question.

The answer was one of those moments when the true personality of the child emerged, unedited and unrestricted.

“If I go to the store on my way home, what do you want for breakfast?” was the question.

A few minutes later, the answer came: “A few cinnamon chip muffins (and by a few, I mean like a bunch because most likely I will eat one tomorrow and then try to consume multiple both weekend days and then I would want some for the following week and then also taking into account that other people would wish to consume some as well so maybe like 30 muffins).”

This response caught me off guard, but it shouldn’t have. I laughed out loud at the uncut version of a teenage super-appetite. I went home with eight muffins: four cinnamon chip, and four for my other teens to share.

Of course, the muffins were gone in seconds. Food doesn’t last when teenagers are around. Unless they are sick of it. Then it lasts too long. And they usually get sick of it just when I have purchased extra because it’s on sale. Cereal, chips, cookies… it doesn’t matter. The pattern is always the same. If we have enough to last more than a day, they realize they are sick of it. I believe this is where the saying “feast or famine” originated—from parents not only trying to keep enough food in the house, but food that their teenagers would actually eat.

In the end, C ate the Danish for his breakfast, though I’m sure he would have preferred muffins. Then again, if I’d had muffins, he would have preferred Danish.