Our parents did not own cell phones, save for the rich few who had house telephones that were devoid of apps, games and anything interesting to a child.
They were therefore not faced with the problem parents of today have; fighting over cell phones with our young ones.
There’s this inborn affinity for those gadgets that comes engraved in the young ones of these days, and it manifests at very tender ages.
They are usually so swift and quick that you move away from your phone for a minute and they are already rummaging through apps, playing games or taking hundreds of poorly framed selfies.
Even with most apps locked with a security code, mine still finds something to do with my phone, sometimes with embarrassing outcomes.
SPACE IN THE BOOK OF LIFE
I was seated in church one chilly Sunday morning, listening keenly to words that will guarantee me space in the book of life, when Yvonne Chakachaka’s Umqombothi came on.
Those that know me well can attest to never hearing my phone ring because I shoot videos quite a lot, so I’ve learnt to have my phone on vibration throughout.
Sure that it could not be my phone, I turned my head around to frown at that irresponsible congregant who could not tame his phone at such an important moment with God.
To make it worse the particular song was about an illicit brew in South Africa! Who does that? It however occurred to me that the song was too loud and close to be my neighbour’s, as close as my own pocket.
I was thrown into confusion, unsure of whether to pull out the phone and switch it off or walk out all the way from the front seat, through the aisle to the exit.
The pastor stopped preaching to remove his blazer and take a sip of water while giving me a moment to sort my shenanigans.
By this time, Yvonne was crooning in the chorus like an early morning bird; everybody’s eyes glued on me;
We MaDlamini (Everybody)
Uph’umqombothi (Come and drink my)
We MaDlamini (magic beer)
I stood up to head for the door, and as expected the boy I call son followed suit, clinging to my left leg like a jilted lover who has refused to accept the news of a breakup.
I almost burst into Tupac’s All Eyes on Me as I tried to hold my head up high, just that it was embarrassing to know I was the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons.
I dragged my boy along, still clutching at me more intimately than a monkey does on a branch, tremendously slowing my exit.
All along, I wondered why whoever was calling could not just read the writings on the wall and hang up, nothing.
When I finally stepped out it I realised it was not an incoming call, rather the music player was on!
Then I remembered he was playing with the phone that morning as we prepared for church, so he must have activated and left it on standby.
Slight body movements as I positioned myself to listen to the preacher must have initiated some contact in the pocket which pressed play and voila! I became the object of disgust before people who have always respected me.
The young man behind my woes was of course unaware, unbothered and unapologetic, he even asked if it was mommy calling us.
You cannot get annoyed in such a situation, can you? I just laughed, he joined in (unaware why I was laughing) then we quietly tip toed back to church, heads down, like two cats preparing to pounce on an unsuspecting rat.
The preaching was back but the message had taken a different trajectory as the congregation (read me) was lectured on the importance of respecting the house of God.
We were told to spend the rest of the week talking to people then spare just three hours to listen to the Word.
You see, the bad thing about being embarrassed in such a fashion is that as much as you get shocked about the turn of events yourself, no one ever offers the platform for you to explain that you were fixed by a child.
It is almost similar to your house help telling lies about you to fellow helps in the estate during their evening meet ups.
You will never have a session to call all of them together, refute the bogus claims and provide the true version.
There were conspicuous black and white posters with the words ‘Please Switch Off Your Phone’ pasted all over church the following Sunday . . . and everyone knew I was the reason behind that legislation. I have since learnt to switch off my phone whenever I am going into meetings because I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to completely keep it out of reach for my boy.