Are Cell Phones the New Baby Monitor?
By: Arlena de Bruin
“Mom, I need a cell phone!” My seven-year old storms to the couch with an equally disgruntled brother stomping potholes in the
floor behind him. After a frantic ten-minute search of the city, I find
them in a bum-dropping party at one of the neighbor‟s trampolines.
Call me the mother of all party-poopers, but it was time for a talk.
“Do you know how worried I was?” I ask frantically.
“Now Mom…” my son says with the self-assurance of a kid not
yet grounded “…this is exactly why I told you I need a cell phone.” I
give him a look that could silence the wind. Bringing up the fight for a
cell phone in the midst of an Amber Alert was just bad politics.
“Good grief Eden, you‟re not getting a cell phone.” I groan. I get down on my knee and
look him in the eyes. “Seven-year-olds do not have cell phones, they have two feet and a mouth
designed specifically so they can come tell their mommy where they are.”
“But Mom…” the floor-stomper butts in, “EVERYONE has one!” Unfortunately for me,
Indi‟s definition of „everyone‟ still includes pop stars, cartoon figures and mythical creatures.
“Everyone in grade school does NOT have a cell,” I fire back.
I send them to their bedrooms for seven minutes of introspection. That‟s three minutes
and five grey hairs less than I spent searching so I remind them they‟re getting a deal.
So the question is… in this world of high-tech advancements, is the cell phone the next baby monitor?
First of all, I decide to check facts. I get on the telephone (the land line that is!) and start
calling elementary schools. If eighty percent of all primaries are toting a mobile, that‟s
something I need to know. By the fourth call, the message is abundantly clear… electronic devices of any nature are strictly forbidden at school. They can‟t bring a cell to grade school
even if they had one. My evidence is clearly circumstantial, so where do I go?
I decide to speak with Brett Ducross, a Communications Specialist with Bell World.
“Ya, there‟s a lot of kids out there with cell phones,” he says.
“That are seven?” I ask.
“Well, I did sell a $600 phone to a twelve year old once, but we‟re mostly talking
teenagers.” I give it some thought. Where do twins that are seven-going-on-seventeen fit in? I
steer back to the bling-bling.
“Six hundred dollars? For a cell phone? For a kid?” I‟m stunned. “And what if they lose
“Well, then you‟d have to buy another, I guess. The average phone costs about $100 or
more.” I do the math and shake my head. One hundred times two, times an average of six
replacements per month… it would be a second mortgage. In the last month alone Eden had lost
two lunch kits, his gym shorts, and one of his favorite hoodies. It doesn‟t take clairvoyance to know that any cell he might have had would have been in one of those!
“And why do parents buy their kids a cell?” I ask.
“They‟re a fabulous safety device,” Brett says. “We now have phones equipped with GPS
tracking devices. You can tune in and know exactly where your children are at any time of the
day or night. Great for peace of mind.”
Well yes, peace of mind I could use, but surgically implanting a GPS device in their
backsides might be more useful. As helpful as it might be to locate some lost lunch kits, shorts or
hoodies, that wasn‟t quite what I had in mind.
I thank Brett and head to the dollar store. With the boys birthdays next month I now have
a fabulous gift idea. I buy a couple of toy cell phones, slap a piece of masking tape across the
face and in big, bold letters write: GO TELL MOM WHERE YOU ARE! I just know they‟re
going to love them, don‟t ya‟ think?
The Expiration Date Debate
By: Arlena de Bruin
It‟s not like I try to be difficult.
And don‟t get me wrong, there‟s probably some days in the month
when I really wouldn‟t mind drinking coffee with curdled chunks in it.
Today just wouldn‟t be one of them.
I look at the expiration date on the jug and groan. According to
the psychics at Dairyland, the milk was scheduled to go off yesterday.
That would be one day after the day my husband bought it at the store. I
head out to the garage where he‟s married to his latest purchase, a
circular saw with state-of-the-art laser tracking. He displays his pile of
creativity proudly. Who would‟ve thought you‟d get 4173 toothpicks out
of a foot long piece of two-by-four.
“Mark… the milk‟s gone off.” I hand him my curdled coffee.
“And you‟re telling me this because…” He gives me a soured look.
It‟s not that I don‟t fully appreciate the fact that my husband will brave the hordes at the
supermarket to do the weekly shopping. And it‟s not that I don‟t fully appreciate that most of the
time he even gets everything on the list right. But curdled milk in my morning coffee? He‟s
either purposely passive-aggressive or it‟s a clear indication of shopping sabotage.
Let me introduce you to the Expiration Date Debate.
“Did you check the due date?” I ask slowly. Obviously, extra emphasis on the „check‟
“Ahhh, come on … you know I don‟t read the small print.”
I pick up the box from his new power tool. “Ahuh. Well then tell me this, Tim the
ToolMan, what‟s the blade diameter of your new saw?”
“7 ? inch.”
“Maximum bevel angle?”
“No load speed?”
My husband looks suspiciously suspicious.
“Five thousand RPM?”
“Ahah! Don‟t read the fine print, eh?” I dump the curdled coffee in the box and stomp
back to the kitchen to make myself an herbal tea. Easy for him to say, he drinks his coffee black.
So I ask you this, guys…what part of „expiration‟ don‟t you understand? If this was an isolated incident, I‟d be the first to admit I‟d have to drink my lumps. But this is an epidemic of
much larger proportions; a sickness that has infiltrated the ranks of brothers, fathers, husbands
and sons. I understand that nature has never programmed men to make any date particularly
important (My birthday‟s on Monday, Mark…) but what part of „due date‟ is not perfectly clear?
I think back to episodes of stale bread, moldy yogurt, and blue muffins (and no, they
weren‟t berry!) and decide if there‟s any hope of changing my husband‟s shopping habits, I‟m
going to have to do some research first. Unfortunately, my first Google hit is a recent study from
London‟s Brunel University that claims shopping habits are directly linked to evolutionary roles.
I scoff at the study‟s opening line: “It‟s official – men are better shoppers than women”,
but read on. According to the 14 country study, females shop or „gather‟ by searching and
comparing alternatives. In contrast, men go „straight for the kill‟ and in true hunter style, their
heart rates even quicken during the moment of purchase.
I give it some thought. According to Dr Charles Dennis, the hunter-gatherer relationship
has existed for 98-percent of mankind‟s evolutionary lifespan. As lifestyles evolve, we simply
adapt our behavior to suit our new environments. Can I really take offense to a million years of
Ahah! So I‟m having a light-bulb moment... If shopping can be equated with hunting, why wouldn‟t men assume that ambushing a jug of milk on the grocery shelf would mean it had
to be fresh? Maybe in the back of their evolutionary hunter-style minds, they can even still hear
the cow „moooo‟!
I slink back into the garage to humbly take back my lumps.
“Hey babe, sorry about making a scene. I didn‟t realize you were hunting. Who am I to
argue the implications of your evolutionary roots?”
Nose to the grindstone, Mark‟s abandoned the toothpicks and is sawing a legion of
“Scene? What scene?”
I breathe a gracious sigh of relief. Fortunate for me, my husband‟s need to hold a grudge
has a short expiration date too.