My Son's Broken Phone Turned Into The Best Day Ever

by Jill Soloway Johnson
Scary Mommy and South_agency/Getty

Number three, my baby, is 17 going on 25 and almost six feet tall. I barely see him these days. A junior in high school, he works at a local supermarket, drives, has a girlfriend, goes to the gym five times a week, snowboards, fishes, and is very social. In his free time, he sleeps and eats. On the extremely rare occasion that I catch a glimpse of him, he might utter a sentence or two to me, but there is no guarantee. He is a train that has left the station, and is picking up speed with each passing day. I feel like I am standing at the landing watching him roar off on a great adventure.

Don’t get me wrong: although I may be sad, I am simultaneously excited and honored to be a part of his journey … even if it is from a distance.

He is independent and wishes he was 18 so he could move on. He has asked me about emancipation. (Which terrified me, to be honest). He then thought about it and decided since he was headed off to college in a year that he would leave that alone. Phew!

I miss him. When his brother and sister (who are 18 and 19) had moved on from hanging out with me, I still had “the baby.” There is something very different about the baby. Somehow you suddenly cherish the most mundane interactions. You slow down, put the “to do” list aside, and take it all in. I mean all of it! When it comes to the baby, time seems to slip through your fingers.

This amazing human requires very little from me. He might ask me to make a doctor’s appointment or pick up some toothpaste. Which I do enthusiastically, of course. But that is pretty much the extent of our interactions these days.

Last week, his phone broke — and I felt like I had won the lottery. He was upset and did not want to spend his money to get it fixed for the second time. I remembered we had insurance on the phone and told him he could go to our carrier and use the insurance. Turns out he needed the account holder to go with him (you guessed it: me). It was my lucky day. He had no choice but to hang out with me, and we all know these things usually take a long time.

It was also my luck that there was a long line, and we got the new employee who was unable to help us. Darn, we had to go back again. So far I had spent 30 minutes in the car with him and at least an hour at the store. We listened to his playlist, talked about his siblings, and he even told me about his work. We connected for the first time in a while — all because of a broken phone.

I was on a winning streak; how did I get so lucky? Next we were referred to a third party who could fix our phone while we waited. This was at a different location, and we had to drive another 30 minutes.

More time on the clock, more listening to music — this time it was my playlist — more talking, more connecting, more driving, and I took it all in. Every last bit.

He parked the car and we waited in line again (amazing, I must say). We were told the wait time was an hour and we could wait on some chairs close by. He was visibly irritated, and under different circumstances, I would have been too. But I would have waited in line for 2+ hours just to hang out with him, and he really needed a working phone. Win-win.

We found two seats next to each other and I showed him a photo from his 4th birthday at Disneyland, when the family was together celebrating the baby’s birthday. I remember it like it was yesterday; so did he. We took a trip down memory lane and scrolled for an hour through all of the photos on my phone. We laughed a lot and he recalled fun times from the past.

Suddenly our name was called. It was time to get the phone fixed. I knew this cherished time together with my baby was coming to a screeching halt. We signed the paperwork and were told to come back in two hours. I thought my day could not be getting any better. I would be able to spend two more hours with my favorite 17-year-old!

But then came the mic drop: “Mom, I’ll drop you off at home. Thanks for your help. I’ll go back later to pick up my phone.”

And just like that, it was over. I resisted the urge to tell him to buy protective case for his phone … because maybe, just maybe, I will get lucky again.

Who would have guessed a mom and her “baby” could connect over a malfunctioning phone? I guess sometimes it takes something broken to bring people closer together.