Confessions of a faulty iDad
Guys love toys – especially hi-tech toys. We can't walk past a Best Buy or Video Only without pressing our noses against the window and peering longingly inside. Women do something similar, only with shoe stores.
When it comes to technomania, I'm no different from the next guy. Sometimes I'm a little obsessed with the size of my hard drive. And if you sit me down in front of a flat screen TV, and play a movie about invading cyborgs, I won't move for two hours. Throw in a urinal and a bag of chips, and I'm good for a double feature.
But today I have a confession to make. Behind this façade of normalcy, I've been hiding a dirty little secret. And by revealing it, I guarantee that my membership in the Tech Club for Men will soon be revoked forever.
I don't have a cell phone.
I know, I know – it's shocking. When people find out, it's as if I've told them I don't have an esophagus.
"Oh, my God!" they say. "Really? How do you survive without one?"
As bizarre as it sounds, I was actually born without one. And over the years, I've become a living testament to the adaptability of the human being. In overcoming my limitations, I've developed abilities that normal, cell-phoned people can only imagine. I've managed, not only to survive, but to thrive.
That's not to say it's been easy. Being un-phoned in a cell-phoned world presents enormous challenges. And by far the biggest has been adjusting to life as a parent.
At first, my kids had a hard time coming to terms with my condition. They couldn't understand why their Daddy wasn't like other fathers.
"But how am I supposed to get a hold of you?" they'd ask. "What if I want money? What if I need you to drive me somewhere?"
In time, they learned to compensate for my condition. Now they try to plan ahead, and problem-solve on their own. And with no way to reach me by text, they've been forced to communicate through actual conversation. In proper English. Without abbreviations. It's been a tough road, of course, but I'm proud to say they've made the best of it. I can only hope that the experience hasn't damaged them forever.
I struggle often with the burden my condition imposes on my family and loved ones. But only in my darkest hours do I confront the toll it has taken on me. In those moments, I'm painfully aware of the deprivation that goes with my un-phoned existence.
Never can I share the dulcet sound of my clever ring tone with fellow diners at a quiet restaurant. Nor can I rejoice in a constant stream of Tweets from bored strangers, describing what they ate for breakfast. And when a fleeting moment of calm graces my busy day, I must find a way to savor it without the sweet solace of Angry Birds.
Still, this is my fate, and I have no choice but to embrace it. That's why I've chosen to go public with my condition. It's time to stop pretending. It's time to stop the lies. It's time to stop living in shame.
Recently, I read that this year's hottest Christmas gift for kids, ages 11 and up, is a new smart phone. It gave me a pang of grief to realize that my children's hearts' desire is something I can never truly share with them. But then I decided to take matters into my own hands.
This year, I'm giving each of my kids a gift certificate for a night out on the town – with me as their date. It includes dinner at any restaurant and tickets to any event, redeemable any time next year. But it comes with one string attached: Their cell phones have to stay at home.
Some would say I'm forcing my kids to suffer the consequences of my own shortcomings. It's hard to argue with that. But the truth is, as flawed and damaged as I am, I'm the only father they've got. If keeping them close to me means asking them to make some sacrifices, then so be it.
Who knows? What doesn't kill them may make them stronger in the end.