Technology -sound, Calendars -insane. by child grower A. Woz.

cowgirlfeet 2My daughter and her friend sit down to type up the school-morning schedule on one of the last summer play dates before the academic year begins.

On the list is the normal shower, get dressed, eat breakfast. For the first time ever, the list also includes: Check email at 7:23 AM daily;  necessary,  just in case one or the other needed to alert of a outfit change, or to declare a day for lip gloss club to meet at recess.

Oddly enough a recent report for technology services providers noted an increase in the use of electricity in the early morning hours and also a decline in the amount of time available to read the daily newspaper.  Why?

Readers have started a new habit of logging in and checking messages on-line. They have less time to read the paper, and are dedicating more time to connecting during the early morning routine.  And most people expect that friends and colleagues, will see and adjust to a notice sent at midnight on Monday about a time change for a Tuesday morning appt.

Looks like my 10 year old is up to speed, if not driving, this new trend. She is wearing the plaid skirt not the jeans today. Good thing she checked her own gmail account at half past the hour!

Constantly seeking simplicity,  I get and take a lot of ribbing on my unwillingness to embrace firing up the computer in the morning.

And, I have not set up my voicemail on my cell phone. 

That’s right,  if people call me and I don’t answer,  they cannot leave a message.

It is just one more place for me to have to check for another update for my calendar.  This drives them crazy. I’m not on board with the pace of reality. I used to say, “All the important people are here with me, so why run to answer the phone!”  But now, everyone is in school, the grown ups are working, the wireless is available and everyone is calling, texting, emailing, facebooking, twittering and chatting. With all my kids in school, I feel the pressure check every attempt at contact!

This “No message Option” on the voicemail drives them nuts and leaves them really frustrated.  First they are polite about it, thinking I’m just too shy to admit that I don’t know how to set it up.  This quickly fades.

They call the house, they leave a message. Getting no live body,  they call the cell again and but still don’t get to leave a message.  Next avenue, if they are at a computer,  they fb or text or even check facebook to see if I’m logged in and try to catch me via chat. Sometimes, they’ll get creative and call a friend see if I’m with her and if I”m standing next to her, they suggest that she could pass along  a quick message to me. 

I am never alone.

They really need me to know that they are going to be ten minutes late, but that they will be there.  It is a matter of politeness, good manners that they are letting me know they are running behind and I have the audacity to not allow them to synchronize my calendar to the new ten minutes of downtime.

I say,  just plan to always be ten minutes late and I’ll forgive you every single time.

Worse, they hate it when I tell them I might be online, but I have all my statuses set to invisible so no one knows if I”m on or off. 

They don’t get that I refuse to set up voicemail on my cell phone when it takes less time to just stop the beeping by calling them back than it does to listen to a message that they usually repeat when I do get in touch.

My home phone captures who called, their number and what time so I know who is looking for me and gulp, I admit I screen my calls.

Surely, with all of this help, I cannot miss a thing. But maybe I want to miss some things.

I’m on calendar overload and I tell ya, between messaging systems, reminder texts, summary reminders calendar updates and my GPS that can get me anywhere; I’m becoming a zombie with no need to really keep a calendar or use my brain.

Unless I want to feel like I’m in control- an illusion at best- I don’t even really have to pay attention to what is going on since someone will kindly remind me, call me, text me, fb me or something to get my arse in gear.

Technology makes sense, but the calendar is frankly, insane.

Here’s a mom’s day:

I get the email today for the soccer practice schedule for the ten year olds team summarizing the online schedule that is available on the organization’s website and finalizing the umpteen emails that parents read and tossed over the last few weeks confirming practice times and game times that had to get switched due to conflicts.

As I am reading the newly-revised-final-updated-schedule,  a text comes in with the alert that practice is canceled due to rain for the older daughter.

Principal sends an email with a link to the classroom calendar update that is posted on the school web site each week.  One classroom teacher also sends an email confirming the sign up days and times for the classroom volunteers to make sure the dates on her calendar and schedule are correct.

So now I’m verifying my calendar and hers!

Then I get an email from my husband alerting me to his out of the office work days, his heavy work load work days and his no longer has to be at work days so I can confirm with my boss my work days, and of course, my no longer can work days due to newly identified calendar conflict.  

My middle-schooler’s Thursday Folder carries information directly to me about the overnighter trip bus schedule, the updated supplies list and the request for a new early pick up time  for the returning, and very tired students. My home pick up carpool schedule now has to be reconciled with the bus driver’s arrival and departure schedule.  And then a necessary call the soccer coach so that she knows that the bus schedule is going to make it impossible for the daughter to make the practice schedule that we rescheduled last week due to a coach’s conflict.

Add to this the backpack express notice my youngest brings home and spills in the front hallway while he searches for his homework.  There are several loose pages, some multi-color to alert parents to a schedule update, and a request that parents check our calendars before we sign up for chaperoning opportunities. On hot pink paper,  there is a reminder to send back the necessary tear-off-the-bottom-send-back-with-an-order fundraiser form because the PTA knows that parents have priorities on the calendar and this one neon page will be seen and added.  These PTA folks are parents with real calendars that have matching pens and a built in calculator and a world map with time zone notices.  These small encyclopedias, color-coded, and utilizing a system for moving to-do lists to the next week day note section, are attatched firmly to the hip of organized people and only come off for the morning shower.  

When I check my answering  machine at home, I get the notice that my babysitter is not able to make this Thursday but next Wednesday will work if I don’t have a conflict with my good friend who left a message on Facebook that the coffee clutch wasn’t going to happen at the same locale.

I have all my technology ducks in a row.

My cell phone beeps if I miss a call.

My answering machine blinks if I miss a call.

My text messaging service blares when I haven’t read new mail.

My chat box lights up if someone is trying to converse in real-time.

I am a bit afraid to open the mailbox at the end of the driveway.  After all, usually the emails, the e-lerts, the notes from the school, are safely copied and mailed –just in case- technology cannot find us hiding under our office clutter, eating the erasers off our stub of a pencil and feeding our calendar pages to the dog.

### by child grower A. Woz.

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