"Power 96, please."
They jump into the car and, without saying hello, request their favorite radio station. Or at least the station they want to listen to at this particular moment.
I may not hear a word from them for most of the 20-25 minute trip home, save an occasional request to change the station. But I'm lucky this time. Often, I remind myself, they jump in with iPods attached to their ears. And their phones are always on, sending text messages as quickly as they can receive them.
I'm no better. Checking e-mail on the Blackberry, looking to see whether someone I'm following has said something interesting on Twitter, even checking my Facebook updates at times.
As a stepfather, I don't have a lot of rules that are identifiably mine. But there's one thing I insist on: The gizmos are not allowed at the dinner table. That's my rule, one I am not shy about enforcing, with a gentle but visibly annoyed, "please put that away while we're eating."
I don't have to imagine what it would be like without these gizmos. Like many of you, I need only remember.
Remember when phones in the house had cords? When, in order to be on the phone, you needed to be in a particular chair?
I love the gizmos. I do. But they're supposed to connect us to each other, not disconnect us from each other.
Resistance is NOT futile! Has anyone managed to do an effective job of unplugging? I could use a few tips, if you've got 'em.