Thursday, September 17, 2009

Texting Lessons

Before sending Abby off to college, Doug and I broke down and bought her a cell phone. A room full of other things, too, mind you, but the cell phone was a pretty big deal. Doug and I have resisted getting our children cell phones. We just don’t think it’s necessary. Our children have a million reasons why they “need” their own phones, but they have yet to convince us. But then one of them said this: “I’m going away to college.” Yeah, that convinced us. But it’s only worked for Abby so far.

As we added Abby to our cell phone plan, we also added unlimited texting. We knew that would be an important feature for Abby. So, suddenly, I have this new communication tool at my disposal.

Kate is already a pro at texting. When I first got my phone a few years ago Kate thought we had unlimited texting as part of our plan. (Doesn’t everybody?) But no. We didn’t even have limited texting or text-your-ten-best-friends texting. What we didn’t know was that when I gave Kate permission to use my phone for what I assumed was a phone conversation, she was texting her friends. We didn’t discover this until the bill came at the end of the first month. At least that bill made the regular monthly charges seem really, really low. Really.

So anyway, Kate is trying to teach me how to text. I have a rather dated phone and it doesn’t have a full keyboard. The letters are grouped together under the number keys. The number “2” has the letters “a,b,” and “c.” You’re probably familiar with it. Even rotary phones had letters with the numbers.

There is a snazzy feature on my phone where the phone figures out the word I want when I type in a certain combination of keys. I don’t have to painstakingly type in every letter. Kate had turned on this feature (and used it) before giving me a lesson in how to use it.

One day, shortly after getting Abby her phone, I decided to send her a text message as she headed off to go shopping. I was going to write, “Hi. Have fun.”

To start the word, “Hi,” I hit the “4” button where the “h” is. My smart little phone spit out the word “Hi.”

Sweet! I thought. This will be really easy.

The phone automatically put in a space and waited for the next instruction. I started typing the word “have.”

“H-a-” so far so good. But then it spit out a “t” giving me “hat.” It automatically gave me a space and moved on to the next word. I hit “clear” and tried again. “H-a-” and again with the “t”. By this time it was beeping and flashing and I decided, “Okay, I’ll go with ‘hat.’ ”

“Hat fun” is almost “have fun.” Abby’s a smart girl. She’ll figure it out.

On to the next word. I hit the “3” key three times trying to get to the “f.” But the phone thought I was asking for three letters from the “3” key. So it selected “fee—“ which led it naturally to the word “feet.” Again, I cleared out the word and tried again. Hitting “3-3-3” gave me “feet.”

I began to giggle.

Then, sitting alone in my parked car, I started to laugh. I hit send.

“Hi. Hat feet.”

Abby deftly replied, “Hat feet?”

Laughing harder, I abandoned texting and called Abby.

“Hello?” she answered.

By that time I was laughing uncontrollably, tears rolling down my face.


Then Abby started to laugh, too.

I still don’t text well or often. But one thing is certain—I now have a whole new way to hat feet.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You Can Trust Your Car*

Our teenage daughters, Abby and Kate, have spent the last year learning to drive. They completed a formal drivers education course taught by Mr. Matthews, a friend of ours in the drivers ed business. The course included the usual book learnin’ and four driving sessions where Mr. Matthews took them on residential roads, city streets, and the freeway.

Before teenagers can receive a driver's license in Colorado, they are required to complete a certain number of driving hours under adult supervision in both daytime and nighttime. The state also limits the number of passengers teens can carry for the first several months. If Colorado didn’t set these rules, Doug and I would have. I’ve heard too many stories about cars full of teenagers crashing and . . . Yes, we’d already decided our children wouldn’t drive cars full of friends.

It’s quite different from when I learned to drive. I took a week of classes, a few loops around town with my teacher, and I was licensed to drive. My sister Ellen gave me another course in driving my father’s Datsun (it was a stick shift) but there were no limits on passengers and such. I soon had my first speeding ticket, issued while I was driving a few of my friends around. I haven’t had a speeding ticket since, I might add.

Anyway, because the girls had to have 50 hours each of supervised driving hours, it fell on Doug and me to ride shot gun and advise. Doug did a lot more of this than I did. He’d take the girls out driving for hours at a time, just so they could get their time in. I may have done that once or twice. I reluctantly let the girls drive when we were going to church or to the store. I wasn’t eager to submit my personal well-being, my family’s well-being, and, yes, my vehicle’s well-being to a novice driver.

It was a little easier for me when Doug was in the front seat with one of the newbees. I knew he was able to reach over and correct steering or rescue us from a bad lane change.

It reminded me a little of the Christian life. As I travel along, I may think I’m the one in control, the one making all the decisions. But I’m not. God is the trustworthy one. His wisdom guides, His hand directs.

A couple weeks ago Kate and Abby became bona fide licensed drivers. Now they can drive on their own without Mom or Dad. But even so, they’re still under God’s watchful eye. I’ll have to learn to trust God in a whole new way.

*Did you hear the men’s chorus singing, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star. The big, bright Texaco star”? I know lots of old commercial jingles. I’ll have to write about that another time.