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Devlyn Brooks, Published September 01 2009

Parenting Perspectives: Broken phone doesn’t burn dad

Eleven-year-olds and cell phones just don’t mix.

Alright, I admit that since buying my son Garrett a cell phone last fall to use for communication with his mother and me that he’s let me down very few times. He’s left his phone at home when he was supposed to bring it to school with him a couple of times, left the phone at his mom’s or at my place when he should have brought it with him, and he dropped it once causing it to temporarily lose its marbles.

But overall, he’s been very responsible with his phone, and so he’s earned ever-increasing privileges with it. Until recently.

I was sitting on my front porch enjoying the evening and letting our dog Massey run around when I spotted Garrett slinking his way across the street from his friend’s house, where the boys had been all afternoon.

From a distance I could tell he was slouched over and looked thoroughly dejected. I saw his shirt drooping down with water running from the bottom of it. By the look of his gait and the worry on his face, my immediate first thought was, “Oh crap, he’s broken his glasses,” and my stomach dropped. The thought of replacing a $450 pair of glasses that were less than a year old made me sick.

But as he came closer, I could see the sun glint off the frame and so, after a deep breath, I then began to think that his brother had bothered him. They have been spending a lot of time together lately and the Bug has been irritating his older brother at times.

But as he got even closer, I sensed it was much more serious. And then he was before me, dripping wet from head to toe with the most sorrowful, “puppy dog” face you’ve ever seen.

“Da-a-a-d-d-d,” he said.

“Yeah, bud,” I said.

“We were playing kickball at Luke’s, and we all got hot so we decided to jump in their pool,” he said, standing before me in his wet khaki shorts and T-shirt, eyes concentrating on a spot on the ground.

“Yes?”

“And so I jumped in like the rest of them, but ... but ... but before I jumped in, I forgot to ... take out my cell phone,” he said, handing me a waterlogged flip phone.

I took the phone and, sure enough, it was dead. But given the circumstances, I couldn’t muster up any anger. Garrett is one of those mature-before-his-time kinda kids, and he had obviously suffered a year’s worth of punishment on his shameful walk across the street with me watching him. He just does not like to let down his loved ones. I shook the phone out, looked at him and told him to get back across the street with his friends. His eyes brightened and he bolted, not giving me the opportunity to change my mind.

I tried drying the phone out overnight but while the bottom half of the phone did begin working the next morning, the top half of the phone with the screen was still shot. Looks like we’ll need to get a new one, but thankfully his old one was a hand-me-down, and a cheap one at that.

All things considered, had you told me when I gave the phone to him that he was going to get a year out of it, I would have been tickled pink.

So, I really can’t be disappointed now. I guess I better add cell phone to the back-to-school shopping list.


Devlyn Brooks is a news editor at The Forum. He lives in Moorhead with his two sons.