Monday, April 21, 2008

Text Message

I have reluctantly joined the text messaging generation. I still think that if you need to say something to another person, it is best to dial the phone and speak to them; but, over the past year or so, I have had to admit that there are times when a text message is the best means of communication. Personally, I have about a one message limit. It takes me forever to type a message and that is with no punctuation whatsoever. I know that all of those little dots and squiggles are somewhere on the "1" key, but I don't have the patience to scroll through all of the possibilities just to find a question mark.

My children, on the other hand, can condense what would be a 30 minute conversation into about 4 1/2 minutes by texting. Granted, the topics of conversation most often are not anything with much depth. Messages are usually 'What are you doing?", "What is our homework?", "What time will you be at school?", "I'm mad at so and so." All of this is fairly innocuous communication.

Yesterday on the way home from church, Erin (15) got a text message from a friend that she went to school with in middle school. They have both now gone their separate ways in high school, but occasionally do still send each other a "How ya doing?' message. Yesterday's text was a little different/ It read, "Do you want to see a picture of my baby?" At our house, all of the four legged members of the family are referred to as our babies so Erin assumed a picture of a puppy or a kitten or maybe a horse or a rabbit. After replying "Sure." to her friend's question, Erin's phone beeped almost immediately with a return message. A picture . . .of a newborn baby, a real 10 fingered, 10 toed baby boy. Erin had no idea how to respond . . .Congratulations? . . . Wow! . . .He's yours? . . .How did that happen? (Wait. Never mind.) . . .What the hell were you thinking?

She asked me what she was supposed to say.. Hmmm. I think I jumped right with "bad plan".

In all seriousness, what do you tell a teen aged girl about how she should respond to a seventeen year old friend who has just given birth? For the most part, the girl is a good kid. Though she should only be a high school junior this year, somehow she managed to graduate early. The father of the baby, a senior, is in school and looking for a job. The two seem to still be together. The mother has some long term goals that do involve going to college in the fall. At least on the surface, it appears that Erin's friend is now trying to make the best decisions she can from the difficult place that she now finds herself. All of that said, I still found myself at a loss as to how I should advise Erin. Fortunately, they were communicating via text messaging so tone of voice and awkward silences were not an issue. Thank goodness for texting!