The trouble with teenagers is that they want. Not that they want this, or they want that, they just want something, and all of the time. This season’s must have is the i-phone 5S and since October and November happen to be birthday months for our sweet teenagers and this particular time of year happens to coincide with the expiration of our phone contracts, the deal was a no-brainer for my dear sweet wife.
At the beginning of October Loly popped into our local EE store and negotiated a good deal for four shiny new contracts with shiny new Samsung Galaxy’s for the grown-ups and the latest Apple offerings for our image conscious teens.
‘Two weeks delivery time,’ the sales girl informed us, ‘we’ll call you when they are ready.’ That was fine, the kids could wait, they would be here before our son’s birthday on the 16th October, and well before our daughter’s 16th birthday rolled around on the 4th November. The phones were ordered on the condition that both kids registered for ‘find my i-phone’ and agreed to dress said i-phones in bullet proof battle armour – even Iron Man wouldn’t go to work without his suit, right?
16th October came and went and the new phones hadn’t arrived. ‘We are experiencing a very high demand at the moment’ was the stock answer that greeted our increasingly irritated enquiries and was delivered by a young girl comfortable in the smug realization that we weren’t about to cancel when we had already waited so long.
We waited some more. We went on holiday for the children’s half-term break for ten days to Spain, confident that we would be returning to find our new gadgets waiting for us together with the new, better lives technology would surely bring. Yet all we found waiting for us was cold, rain, smug smiley apologies, a pile of junk mail and a cheesy milk carton.
Our daughter’s sixteenth birthday waxed and waned without her precious present and we began to feel like we had let the children down by failing to deliver. The kids, to their credit, were great, rolling with the punch in the guts that the EE store had delivered them in lieu of a present, they swallowed their disappointment and waited some more.
Finally, on November the 14th, six weeks after placing the order, the call came that the phones were in-store and we could collect them. We promised to pick the kids up from school that day, and I took some time off work to go with my wife to sign the contracts. We arrived at the store around 10.20 in the morning and I was quite prepared to spend the next hour signing forms and going through the various options available to us. In fact the order had taken so long that the deals my wife had agreed at the beginning of October had expired and we had to choose new tariffs and handset charges that ended up costing us £30 a month extra!
By the time we left the store it was almost 2pm and we barely had time to grab a quick bite to eat before picking up the kids. I have to say, I love my new smart phone, I have even downloaded a WordPress app and the camera is amazing. It was great to see the smiling faces on the kids as they finally got to play with their new phones, but the biggest kick of the day came from our youngest, Rafael. He never said a word while we gave the kids their presents; never gave the slightest hint as to what he might be thinking, but on an impulse my wife took her old phone and put it in one of the i-phone boxes and handed it Rafael.
It was as if we had given him the world. He ran around skipping and shouting and punching the air with delight. He showed every stranger he met his new phone and he played its built in games throughout the car journey home. His heartfelt and sincere gratitude at his unexpected inclusion was a joy to behold and moment to cherish.
As they grow and develop our children acquire inhibitions and learn to supress their excitement, as if the expression of such sentiment reveals them to be younger than they are, and somehow less cool. I know how pleased the big ones are with their phones, they never leave their hands. Yet I miss the freedom of expression in them that our five year old retains. I don’t know how long he will be like that, but I am going to savor every glorious moment.