disconnected

Day one: Wave goodbye at the airport. Go to a movie. Take a nap. Read for several hours.
Day two: Check email repeatedly.
Day three: Follow chaperoning teachers on social media. Scour Instagram and Snapchat posts by strangers.
Day four: Search for sightings on live webcams.
Day five: Pace house. Whine. Search for excuse to call a chaperone.

My 12-y-o is in Costa Rica for nine days without a cell phone. Nine days. Is he eating enough? Does he feel okay physically? Mentally? Are there adults listening to him? Guiding him? Has he bathed or brushed his teeth since leaving home?

Suggesting that my child keep his tech devices at home was easy. He does it whenever he goes on camping trips. Aside from the relief of not worrying about fragile tech getting dropped or wet, not having it removes the compulsion to ‘check’ things on the Internet. Childhood adventures should be active and messy and loud, not staring at a screen. Travel is about immersing yourself in the unfiltered sights and sounds of the world beyond your home.

“I would never trust someone else to watch my child like that.” “We don’t do school trips. We do family vacations.” “I can’t believe you’re letting him go without you.” If my children had to wait until we could afford for one or more of us to accompany them, they would never go anywhere. I want them to go and see and do.

“How will you know what he’s doing?” “Don’t you want him to call you?” “My child needs a cell phone for safety.” I trust my son’s teachers during the school day. I trust his teachers far from home. A cell phone in his pocket won’t make him safer. It makes him distracted.

The only reason to send the cell phone with him would be for him to comfort me.

It would be nice if the teachers would send out a one sentence email every evening or post an unbandaged group pic once a day or use one of the many group messaging apps or do ANYTHING to ease my anxiety. Given a choice between being able to text or call my child when he’s busy having fun and letting him fully disconnect from tech, I’ll accept my new ulcer.

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