TINA COMEAU: Texting, whistling and playing outdoors

Tina Comeau
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It's My Life: Tina Comeau

Tina Comeau of the Yarmouth Vanguard writes a weekly column called It's My life, which is a lighthearted look at family life.

When I was growing up in Arcadia we had lots of kids in my neighbourhood.

What we didn’t have were iPhones, tablets, laptops, xBox Live, Twitter, etc.

We played lots of games. There was cops and robbers where we rode our bikes up and down Frank Saulnier’s driveway just pointing at each other. The Saulniers had the longest driveway so they got stuck with us kids.

We played another game called Car Run. We’d stand near the edge of someone’s front lawn and as a car approached we’d have to run to home base – a.k.a. the front steps of someone’s house – before the car drove by, otherwise we’d be a frozen statue on the front lawn until the next car drove by and unfroze us. The daring part of the game came by waiting until the last possible moment to sprint to home base.

I can only imagine how odd we looked to approaching vehicles as we stood on these neighbourhood yards, “frozen” in mid stride.

I can also remember playing Charlie’s Angels with some of my friends. We’d run around my house shouting out, “Where’s Charlie? Where’s Charlie?” We usually didn’t have a guy friend when we were playing this so the game never reached a conclusion. If Charlie was in my basement – even as crackerjack 10-year-old detectives named Kelly, Jill and Sabrina – we never found him. He’s been missing since 1979.

When we were outdoors playing in the neighbourhood and it was time for us to come home, there was no texting involved. No cellphone for my parents to call. Instead my dad would stand outside our house and whistle. He could really whistle loud.

“Tina, Lisa, your dad wants you,” one of our friends would say. If we ignored the whistle the next one was even louder.

There are things that parents pass onto their children. My dad’s whistling ability is not something I picked up. I mean, I can whistle for my cat, but if I stood in the Mariners Centre parking lot whistling for my kids inside to come out I wouldn’t get anywhere.

And so when they’re out of my sight I depend on texting and cellphone calls to keep in touch with my kids.

But even that doesn’t always work.

One night a couple of weeks ago, a few hours after having driven my son Jacob to a friend’s house in town, I texted him to get a sense of when he’d be ready to be picked up.

The texting conversation went like this.

Me: When are you ready to be picked up?

Response: I'm at the house.

Me (extremely confused): What house?

Response: I'm Justin.

Oops, wrong kid.

I just texted the one that is down the hall.

While trying to keep tabs on my kids, I also try to give them their space. I could text them every 20 minutes. Where are you? What are you doing? Where are you now? What are you doing now? What about now? Now?

But they’d hate that, I’m sure.

Last Friday night I had worked late in the newsroom. I was driving home around 8:30 p.m. I knew where my youngest son was. I was wondering what my oldest son was doing.

As I drove by Central School I saw him and three of his friends playing basketball on the outdoor court.

Friday night and they were playing basketball outdoors. I must say, I was impressed.

Not by their basketball skills – they’re better hockey players than they are basketball players – but impressed that they were outside, being active. On a Friday night.

As darkness started to fall, the sky was dramatic, contrasted by the lighted basketball court. They let me take their picture.

Which afterwards I tweeted out.

I couldn’t help myself.

I stayed outside with them at the basketball court until they were ready for me to drive them home.

After all, I can’t whistle.

At least not like dad.

My youngest son is going through a fad now where he’s forever throwing out these, ‘Back in my day’ zingers. Driving home Saturday night he was doing them in an old man voice.

“Back in my day,” he said, “to text we taped a note on a rock and threw it at people.”

Hmmm….that might have been even more effective than whistling.

Organizations: Mariners Centre, What house, Central School

Geographic location: Arcadia

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