Archive for May, 2008

California Supreme Court says “I do” to gay marriage

May 15, 2008

Valentine’s Day in May? It sure seems like it, or at least a flashback to Valentine’s Day 2004.

It’s been four years since Mayor Gavin Newsom told the San Francisco city clerk to issue marriage licenses to gay couples—and the California Supreme Court stopped the practice a month later. It’s been four years during which the issue bounced around the California courts.

As of today, gay marriage is back on again in California. It may not last, it may go to state referendum and be banned yet again. And I’ll again be struggling to explain to my kids why people can’t marry whoever they want to marry.

But meanwhile, the local news is going to once again be one of my favorite shows; I’ll even let my kids watch, because instead of showing police tape around the site of the latest gang violence, bemoaning California’s struggling school system, or profiling another family losing their house in the mortgage crisis, the news is going to be showing happy couples, many with kids in tow, lining up to get married. And what could be better family viewing than that?

Bad mommy, how dare you turn your cell phone off?

May 13, 2008

I’m old enough to remember parenting before cell phones. That is, when the elementary school had your home number and your work number, your husband’s work number, and the always-requested never-used emergency-backup-friend-or-relative number. And that was it. Back then, if your kid was feeling a little feverish at school and went to the office, they’d have the kid sit or lie somewhere to rest, would leave messages at home and work, and if you actually got the message and showed up in an hour or two, you were amazingly prompt and responsive and thank you very much. If the kid was lying on the ground bleeding, they’d call an ambulance; they wouldn’t sit by the phone expecting that you’d call back immediately.

But now, apparently, I’m supposed to be instantly, always, available for calls from the school. Yesterday I slipped out of my office during my so-called lunch hour (not that I usually go out for lunch then, a couple

of days I work through with a sandwich at my desk, the other days I take a walk or go exercise). I went to the gym. I didn’t turn my cell phone on because I leave it in the car when I’m exercising.

And afterwards I had multiple messages on my home, cell, and work phones, probably a total of nine messages, that my daughter was in the middle school health office and needed to be picked up. They’d called my husband as well, he was on a conference call and also had turned off his cell phone to prevent interruptions.

I called the school when I got the message and rushed right over. She was feeling a queasy and looked a little feverish, though when I took her temperature it was normal. She’d been lying down on a cot in the health office. She wasn’t bleeding or throwing up.

The school nurse glared at me. “Where have you been? We’ve been trying to reach you for an hour and a half! Why weren’t you answering your cell phone!”

“Uh, I was at the gym.” I immediately regretted saying that. Why didn’t I say I was in a meeting, maybe then I wouldn’t have looked so selfish and neglectful.

“Huh. You should take your cell phone with you.”

I took my daughter out; while I was getting her things into the car another mother I knew came out with her son, looking harried. “They called me, I was at a meeting 25 minutes away. He fell and hit his head in P.E. I asked them to just let him sit for half an hour to see if they really needed me to come, but they insisted I come immediately. Of course, he’s fine, as you can see.”

While I was driving home, my husband’s conference call ended and he called the school to see if our daughter had been picked up yet. “Yes,” he was told, “but just now. There must have been some confusion as to who was supposed to deal with this.”

“Confusion?” he said. “There was no confusion. I just got the message, that’s why I’m calling you.”

But that’s not what they meant. Apparently, parents are like doctors now, someone is supposed to always be immediately available. Not available in an hour, available now. If I turn off my phone during a conference session, I’m supposed to make sure my husband has his on, to inform him that he’s on call. And clearly exercising without my cell phone at hand is not acceptable.

Generally, it’s reassuring to know that, in an emergency, I can be reached in a reasonable amount of time. During theater performances, for example, I usually turn on my phone during intermission to check for messages. Ditto after movies. But I do go to plays and movies and yes, the gym, with my cell phone off. And that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

Wasn’t all this technology supposed to make our lives easier?