We were on I-71, somewhere in the middle of our 6 hour drive through Ohio, headed to my mom's new home in Kentucky. It was a two-car caravan led by Mom. I was the 16 year old driver in the second car.
I was finding the drive to be quite easy. My biggest annoyance was having to find a new radio station every time we moved through another town.
That is, it was easy until we came to the long line of red tail lights all road trippers dread. A traffic jam. By the looks of it, a traffic jam that was going to make our 6 hour drive a whole lot longer than 6 hours. We putzed along, inching our way closer to the open road on the other side of the construction.
We finally came to the cause of the backup; construction walls were funneling us down to one lane. Being such an inexperienced driver, I was not skilled in the art of merging traffic. A car got in front of me. He let another car in front of him. My panic rose with each new car that ducked in line ahead of me. As I craned my neck to keep an eye on Mom's car, more and more cars got between us.
Finally, there were just too many.
I lost sight of her.
With absolutely no idea how to get to her house in Kentucky.
With everyone now in single file, our speed picked up. I was in full-on, 16 year old, what-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do mode while traveling at 55 mph with a cement wall on one side and a long row of orange construction cones on the other. For miles. It wasn't pretty. Driving through construction with limited space in the lane is hard enough, but doing it while panicked that you will be lost in the middle of Ohio for the rest of your life is downright terrible.
At one point, I actually hit a cone and sent it flying. I was close to losing my gourd. Clearly my litany of "What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?" wasn't working.
I finally got so scared I started to pray. "Help me. Help me. HELP ME!!!"
I was led to get off the freeway. I can't say I made the decision, because, honestly, my brain wasn't working well enough to make a decision. I simply remember feeling that I should take the first exit I came to and get out of that line of cars.
With my heart pounding, I pulled out of line and onto the ramp, completely clueless as to what to do next.
With no idea of where I was, I simply got to the end of the ramp and turned.
To find my mom had done the exact same thing. I found her waiting for me, in a bit of a panic herself.
It was one of the happiest moments of my short 16 year life. The relief didn't wash over me, it crashed.
We got out of our cars, yellled/talked our stories to each other, made a plan for what to do if this were to happen again, and headed back to the freeway.
As I watch my kids get older, as I hand cell phones to each child as he hits the Christmas of his 8th grade year, I think, "In many, many ways, kids have it so easy these days."
If Phoenix and I were to have this same drive, with the same traffic jam, there would be no fear. There would be no panic. There would simply be a phone call to say, "Hey, meet me at Speedway at exit 14". It certainly wouldn't be a story to tell 25 years later.
There were so many stories like this growing up. So many scenarios where a cell phone would have made life so much easier. Yet, it is through these scenarios that I learned to trust my instincts. It is through these scenarios that I learned to be independent. It is through these scenarios that I gained confidence in myself and my ability to solve problems.
I'm torn. Part of me is glad my kids won't have to go through these sometimes scary experiences, but part of me feels like I'm taking away some growing experiences which would come in very handy as they become adults and move away from home.
I'm thinking I'm going to walk a fine line with the cell phones. It's going to be hard. The paranoid parent in my will want to use the phones to make sure I know exactly where my kids are at all times and micromanage their comings and goings. The smart parent in me will need to loosen the grip. I need to give them space to make choices. I need to let them make bad choices so they can learn from them.
I want my kids to have stories. I want them to have stories about struggles they had and experiences they got through. I don't yet know what those stories will be, but I do know one story they won't be able to tell, because I learned from my experience 25 years ago. They won't be telling stories about being stranded in the middle of Indiana, because my kids will always know the address and the directions on how to get where they are going.
Do you have a story from when you were growing up in which a cell phone would have been very handy?
Have a lovely day!
Cell phones - kind of a sore subject with me! For the most part, I hate them - because I see them misused so much of the time by so many people, people who should know better! If I had young children, maybe I would equip them with very basic, very limited cell phone service (for emergency use and "mother-approved' use) AND hammer cell phone etiquette into them!ReplyDelete
I'm with you. Cell phone overuse makes me crazy sometimes. We now have two kids with cell phones, and neither of them are smart phones or have the capability to do anything but call and text. So far, we haven't had any problems.Delete
Nope there weren't any cell phones so this just wouldn't have been in my thought process. I'm guessing a plan for this type of thing would be in order. You did very well.ReplyDelete
Have a fabulous day. ☺
I don't know why we didn't have a plan to begin with. Guess it never crossed my mind that I'd lose her.Delete
By the time I was allowed to drive (18 in Germany), I also had a cell phone.. But a few times during our drive from Eastern Kansas to Seattle it would have been great to actually have some bars on it though. Still, our family takes it VERY light on cell phones. Richard even got rid of his because he never used it, so we share one phone, and do fairly well that way! Kudos to you for wanting your kids to make their own experiences and bad choices, it's so important for them to do exactly that!ReplyDelete
I've heard there isn't much in Kansas, so it would be a lot like driving without a phone. Very good with the light cell phone use. We do use ours quite a bit. These days, I use mine more than he uses his, since I do so much scheduling and things with texts. They are quite handy for weekends we are at separate games in order to keep each other updated.Delete
It is important. The hard part is trying to decide which choices to let them make and which ones to jump in and help.
I remember using walkie talkies on road trips! Kids now definitely have it so much easier.ReplyDelete
We did that once when a friend of mine and I took all our 7 kids on spring break. We couldn't fit in one minivan, so we caravanned. They were quite useful! We didn't have them back when I was 16. Would have been helpful, though!Delete
My 4-year-old asked for a phone for Christmas. To his knowledge their only useful function is to play games. Someone stop the madness...ReplyDelete
One thing I think is interesting about phones is that you can track where they are! I snuck around a few times in high school...probably wouldn't have done that if I knew my parents could find me with the "find my iPhone" application!
Ha! I'm sure your son isn't the only 4 year old asking. Mine is walking around with a paper one his sister made for him.Delete
Very true! It is possible to keep extreme track of our teens these days. Between GPS to find their location, grades online to keep track of every paper they turn in, and all other devices to keep them under our thumbs, kids don't have a whole lot of privacy in some areas.
rest assured that our children are facing their own challenges that are different than ours were but will give them just as many stories and make them just as independent as ours made us....as for a story from my childhood I'm sure there is one but I have something from about 5 years ago when my cell phone had died and I need an ambulance while I was driving on the Turnpike. a story for another time.ReplyDelete
Yes they are. I've been thinking about your comment. No, my kids won't be learning the same things I did in the same way, but they are living in a different world than I did. They need to know things I never did. Their experiences are preparing them to live in today's world, not my teenage world. Thanks for setting me on that thought process.Delete
Make sure there is "another time". That sounds like a story and a half.
8th grade youth group ski trip. Our group got parted during a snowstorm in WV. My car spent the night in a motel & made it to the resort by lunch the next day. The other group got into an accident with a drunk driver. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The life squad ended up depositing at the ski resort the next morning. A parent called the ski resort to check on us. Remember no one had cell phones. The guy at the ski resort said "I think they're the group the ambulance just brought in." Not what a parent wants to hear. Needless to say the entire church said a special prayer for us on Sunday morning. Of course the ski lodge lost power, and it was a miserable but memorable trip.ReplyDelete
Yeah, we have a family story where we got separated from the car my aunt, uncle and cousin were in (my other cousin was riding with me and my parents) in a little, bitty town of about 1,000 people while on a family vacation. It was about 1973 and I would have been about 12. My uncle was supposed to have gone to a gas station (for which he had a credit card) and then stay there until we came back from our station to meet him. He didn't follow directions and tried to drive around and find us, while we were driving around trying to find the station he was supposed to be waiting at. After an hour of searching, we gave up and drove to the next destination, which was my great aunts' home, two hours away, where we found my aunt, uncle and cousin sitting at the table, eating homemade ice cream and fresh strawberries. My parents were NOT happy.ReplyDelete
I don't remember a specific incident, though I'm sure there must have been one. I do remember my dad mentioning how hard it was for him to get through when he called our home phone from work. The line always seemed to be busy, and he was frustrated when he couldn't reach our mom. Cells phones would have helped with that problem.ReplyDelete
I love this story...I often wonder what kind of adults today's children will be they are different than us...once again I have to mention that I am an older parent and very new to parenting ....we adopted our children almost 4 years ago. I had the lucky experience of starting out at day 3000 as a parent as oppose to day 1. I also had to teach my children all about socializing, speaking a new language and so on; four years later they have wonderful friends, are kind and quite popular meaning they fit in...but the times they are a changing because they are not like us...you mention a few times that you want to them to have stories....I think its all about their perspective. You were panicking because you were separated from your mom ( I agree scary for a new driver) your kids will have a story but with different contents its their perspective what makes a memorable story!!!! It's funny I have two sisters we are very close as adults and were close as children...but we all had a different childhood and we crack up laughing when one us mentions something from our childhood...because we say that's not how it happened.ReplyDelete
Good Story...hope you are feeling better - Marisa
I'm glad you got out of that traffic and found your Mom again. Good grief! You managed to keep a cool enough head to drive. I'm impressed.ReplyDelete
So many times, as I tell my kids stories from when I was younger, I say "Now remember, this was long before cell phones were invented...." because had I had a cell phone, things would have been so much different and like you said, there wouldn't even be a story to tell! I feel so much better knowing that my kids have them now that 2 of my 3 are driving.ReplyDelete
I would have had a total meltdown! I don't like to drive long distances now as an adult with a cell phone so that kind of tells you where I am at. The power of prayer is amazing and it looks like you and Mom had a pretty good connection to have had the same plan. As for cell phones...definitely a blessing and a curse, especially when it comes to kids.ReplyDelete
I'm sure I have many of these. I still remember stopping at pay phones to call people. As much as I love technology, I'm glad I didn't grow up where it was so readily available. I truly loved living in the era I grew up in.ReplyDelete
OK, I love this story. I have a similar one in which I was supposed to meet my mother in the parking lot of the VIcksburg Battlefield Memorial in case we got lost. Somewhere during the day, my mother decided to just not stop. I drove back and forth between Mississippi and Louisiana before I finally got my father on the phone (using a payphone) who had talked to my mother who said she was getting a hotel room in Shreveport.ReplyDelete
Wow, that makes my mother look bad. But she is really a loving mother.
Anyhow, I often remember that story and how different life is now with cell phones. I guess my children will laugh at the idea of a pay phone.
I love that coming-of-age of getting a cell phone your 8th grade year. I'll keep that one in mind!