My children have not slept in their own beds all weekend. In fact, I've barely seen them as we had an evening with friends in Abingdon on Friday and then they had a sleepover while we had another evening with different friends just up the road. They packed their own bags, they found sleeping bags and pillows, they organised their various hand-held devices and they said hello, please, thank you and goodbye when required. I'm beginning to feel a little superfluous.
I wonder, sometimes, about how and when they'll become entirely self-sufficient. I don't think I ever have been despite leaving one home just after my 16th birthday and another just before my 18th. No mobiles and no email meant long periods of daughterly silence which were inconvenient at best, worrisome at worst for my parents. I have, though, always depended on their generosity and support when I needed to and I remember my Dad making me promise that I'd always ask for the fatherly safety net if I was in dire straits. If it wasn't my parents and family, I've always been lucky enough to have friendships and a marriage that I gratefully rely on for so many things, large and small.
I wonder how my own children will cope when they find that things don't always work out as they expect, whether they'll turn to us or not. I hope they'll be able to use the safety net button when they need to. I wonder how they'll communicate us, whether they'll be in constant touch or whether they'll fly the nest and take their news and companionship with them? This pondering has been prompted by the realisation that one of them will become a teenager this year, while the other one will reach double digits. Things are definitely changing and I'm going to have change with them.
We were talking with friends who have kids of a similar age last night about mobiles and family texting and I started to think that I have a more male approach to such things. I like the occasional episode of text bantering as much as the next woman but I don't like talking on mobiles, especially in public other than to exchange the minimum amount of information.
G was expressing the codgerly opinion that he wouldn't be texting anything once he could hand his mobile back to his employer. I like to call it the 'slaveberry' and I loathe it's constant blinking presence on our dresser in the kitchen. I channel dark and destructive thoughts in its direction despite its influence on our family income and security. It's like a very demanding house guest who doesn't help with the washing up.
Others in the party were keen to be able to maintain contact with their kids via the medium of mobile phone signals. Me? I'm not sure I want my growing children to feel they need to tell me their every move, neither do I have the inclination to be at their beck and call. I do not want to be texted on a Friday night to be told that I can pick them up at 2am instead of 1am. I do not want to be summoned to school because J or E has forgotten their assessment/homework/hair gel.
Sometimes we can all be too available and I think we've been lulled into the notion that just because we pay twenty quid a month to cart a little shiny box around with us we're immune to dangers and flat tyres and dodgy dates. Perhaps as our two get older and more independent, we'll all feel more comfortable knowing that we're linked when we need to be but do we really need four shiny boxes interrupting our family dinners and dvd watching? As a species we managed to keep ourselves relatively safe and secure without letting each other know that we're on the way or that we're going to be late at the beginning of every social interaction.
J has my old mobile. I find it in his bedroom when I check that he hasn't made his bed. E wants a mobile and is starting to contrive ever-more ingenious plans and strategies to get her sticky little mits on one. She does not understand why, at nine, she is being deprived of such technology. I suppose she wants to text me when she forgets her trainers, her lunch box or her hairband during morning break.
I'm not a technophobe. I lust after ipads. I love to blog and I like the fact that the bank can now text my woeful bank balance and my astronomical visa balance every Monday and Wednesday morning, respectively. I think it might be good to have a more mindful approach to our reliance on being technologically online all day every day.