Friday, March 26, 2010

Corrupting the youth

My sweet, adorable nephew just turned 11 and he finally got a cell phone from his tyrannic, cruel, cell-phone-withholding parents. And the domestic partner and I paid for a year’s worth of text messaging so he could keep up with his little buddies … and so he could pester us with hourly updates about his life. At dinner! Waking up! Going 2 school!

I pretty much live by text messaging. It’s fast, it’s convenient, it’s not disruptive when I should be paying attention in meetings I’m on the bus and it requires a bare minimum of human interaction. Text messaging may very well be the perfect husband! But until now I texted only with adults whose adult voices and adult senses of humor came through every time I read their texts.

Which is why it’s so weird to be texting with a kid. Even though I know my nephew better than I know my adult friends, I just don’t hear his squeaky little voice in the texts he sends me. For some reason, our text interactions feel abstract and clinical instead of warm and conversational to me. And it’s not just because he’s the only person I text with who actually uses doofy texting contractions without irony. U r the bst uncle evr!

But that’s changing.

The nephew and his sister and his parents are currently at the end of a whirlwind spring break trip to DC. And he’s been texting me minute-by-minute updates of the sites they’ve visited. At the natl hstry museum. Just came out of the house of Rep. In line at Arlington!

Like a conscientious uncle—and a person who freaking loves DC—I’ve tried to respond to all his texts with educational information or leading questions or suggestions for fun things to do. Like my insistence that they all sit on the top steps of the Lincoln Memorial and take in the gorgeous view of the Mall below. It’s seriously my favorite spot in all of DC.

And the nephew has done a great job of holding up his end of the conversation … especially when he told me they'd stopped to have dinner on their drive east to DC:

What 11-year-old says I know, right? HOW CUTE IS THAT? But I still don’t hear his squeaky little voice in that conversation.

And I totally don’t hear his squeaky little kid voice in today’s exchange, which simultaneously makes me laugh and wonder when he got clever enough to keep up with his corrupting uncle who is surely going to whatever circle of hell is reserved people who have no respect for the dead or the theater:

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