The Day My Son Almost Got on a Plane Alone Without His Cellphone

Early Sunday morning we dropped Chandler off at the airport for an overnight trip to Washington D.C. Yep that’s right, 2700 miles across the country and back in 36 hours so he could check out a college that’s much too far from home in my opinion. (What if he meets a girl there. And marries her. And never comes home!) I watched him walk away then looked to see if he forgot anything and saw his phone on the backseat.

His phone.

cell phone
Oops!

Dave hopped out of the car and called him before he went inside the terminal. As he handed over the phone Chandler said, “That would be bad.”

Yes it would.

Nobody was picking up Chandler at the airport in DC. He was taking the Metro to the university he was visiting and meeting the student whose dorm he was staying in. The student was going to text Chandler where to meet him. Without his phone that meeting would have been close to impossible.

It’s crazy how dependent we’ve become on our phones. Why look something up on a map when your phone is equipped with a high-tech GPS navigation system? Traffic on the freeway? No need to wait ten minutes for an update on news radio, just check out Waze for an alternate route. Your toddler bored in line at the market? Hand her your phone so she can play a game and stop whining about it. Email, Facebook, your camera, hell even a flashlight – all on your phone.

And when we need to get in touch with someone? Instead of calling them we text. Ironically our dependence on cellphones has made actually talking on the phone nearly obsolete.

Dave and I tried to speculate what would have happened if I hadn’t seen the phone. When would Chandler have noticed and what would he have done? He’s really responsible and leaving his phone behind is out of character for him. I’m sure he was just distracted, maybe a bit nervous about his trip. But I worried, was this kid really ready to go away to school?

I don’t think I’m as dependent on my phone as most people seem to be. I rarely use it check my email or Facebook or Twitter status. I’m terrible at texting. In fact, I forget my phone all the time.

But I will admit that I am dependent on my kids having their phones. I like to keep tabs and keep them close. We used to have Chandler text us when he got to his destination when he first started driving. And we still ask him to text us when he’s on his way home.

When we got home from the airport I told Marley what happened and then said, “I think at dinner this week we’ll have to have a discussion about this and what you guys would do if you were traveling alone and didn’t have your phone.”

She rolled her eyes. “Really, Mom? I’d just find a mom or an an airport employee and tell them I was a lost little girl and could I please borrow their phone to call my mommy.”

I met  her eye roll with a sigh. I suppose she would. That girl’s got some street smarts. (As most girls do.) But would Chandler? I wan’t so sure.

After he got home I did ask him what he would have done. He shrugged, “It depends when I noticed.”

“What if you noticed before you got on the plane?” I asked.

“I’d use someone’s phone to call you or call my phone.”

“What if you noticed after you were on the plane and it was too late to get your phone back?”

“I’d find a way to call you when I got to DC then take the metro to the school. He texted me. You could have read me his text.”

“But Chandler,” I said, “what if your phone wasn’t in the car? What if you lost your phone?”

He shrugged again. “But I didn’t, Mom.”

No, he didn’t. I don’t know why I was skeptical that he’d know what to do. He is eighteen. And he’s smart. (Plus, am an awesome mom.) It would have been inconvenient for him not to have his phone. Perhaps even difficult. But like all of us when we forget our phones, he would have survived.

And I probably would have too.

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