Like many 13- year-olds, our daughter spends a lot of time on her iPhone. Recently, the battery was low and when she plugged the phone into the charger, it didn’t work. The charger was dead. She very nearly lost her mind and I got a quick peek at former me.
Jules: “Oh my God, Mom. Mom! You have to go get me a new charger. Please. Like, right now. Please go now. Will you? Please?”
Me: “What is happening here? Why are you panicking? And no, I’m not going to buy a new charger- it’s 9:00pm. We can maybe go tomorrow.”
Jules (pacing now): “Mom. Please. Like, I literally have 3 percent battery left. 3 percent!”
Me: “No way. I’m going to bed. You’ll be okay until tomorrow, It’ll be good for you! Maybe even make you realize how dependent you are on your phone.”
Jules (pacing and wringing her hands now): “Gah! Mom! Wal Mart is open. They’re always open. Let’s just run to Wal Mart. It’ll take, like, 15 minutes. Please?!?”
Me: “No. I’m going to bed- you should, too.”
Jules (pacing, wringing her hands, gnashing her teeth now): “I can’t sleep without my phone! 12:00am-3:00am are ‘the loathing hours!’ I don’t think I can sleep without ‘the loathing hours’!”
Me: “What in the hell are ‘the loathing hours’?”
Jules (pacing, wringing her hands, gnashing her teeth and glassy-eyed now): “It’s the hours that I spend on my phone realizing how much I hate humanity. Please, Mom! Let’s just hop in the car…”
Me: “No wonder you sleep until Noon and still wake up crabby. And no.”
Jules (pacing, wringing hands, gnashing teeth, glassy-eyed and rolling on the floor with knees to chest now): “Mooooooom! You don’t understand! You don’t understaaaaaaandddddd….”
Me: “Good night.”
Jules (gaining a little composure): “Ugh! Well, can I just borrow your phone?”
Me: “No, I spend the first hour that I’m bed scrolling the internet realizing how much I love humanity. Do you want to change it to ‘the joyful hours’? Then you can…”
Jules (indignant): “God, no. I’d rather step in front of a truck.”
And then I kissed her goodnight, remembering how I felt at 13-years-old. That no one “got me”- that no one could possibly understand me and my ultra, mega- intense emotions. I listened to The Smiths to help me cope. She scrolls on Instagram and whatever other self-esteem sucking app the kids are into these days. I felt bad for her for a hot minute. Then I remembered that the woman I am today is not at all like the teenage girl I was. I know now that the world doesn’t revolve around me and my perceived slights. That people are good and valuable and bring their own special gifts to the table. Sure, there are assholes in the world but that’s their problem. I choose to focus on the joy that people give me and on how I can give it back to them. It took me a while but I realize my unique importance in the world and I do my best to use it for good. We all have a unique importance-it just takes some of us longer to recognize it. I can tell you, though, it starts with less ‘me’ and more ‘for others’.
Now I’m thinking about how she’s going to feel if she ever reads this- she’s going to want to step in front of a truck. And how I’ve just increased her ‘loathing hours’ tenfold, probably. Sorry, kid. You can think people are shitty all you want- I know better. Just look at me and your Dad…badasses. Most people are.