Breaking the Rules

I admit it – I'm that person, the one who uses her cell phone when there are big signs everywhere telling you NOT to do it.

"Mommy, it's against the rules," my daughter says with disdain in her voice as she and her friends pile into my station wagon in the carpool line.

So that's why the line monitor was giving me those disapproving looks. I knew it was either that or the fact that I'm wearing my workout clothes, no makeup, and my hair looks like it hasn't been washed since 1979.

I read it in the school handbook. Honestly, I did. I also heard it discussed on parent-teacher night. Later I was reminded about it in a polite, but firm e-mail. But for some reason I can't get it through my head. I always conduct business when I'm waiting, and with kids you do a lot of waiting – in the carpool line, at the dentist's office, at ballet. Yet these are precisely the places you're not allowed to use your cell phone.

When my daughter is in the dentist's chair and the phone rings I make a mad dash into the hallway. I'm not sure what the cell phone does in a doctor's office ‑ screw up the X-ray machine, or in the case of a hospital, someone's pacemaker? But I don't want to find out. I don't want to be the person whose call resulted in a cardiac arrest or a major malfunction in an expensive piece of equipment that I then have to pay for.

There is also the disruption factor. I get that too. People do not want to hear someone screaming into her cell phone in a restaurant, or while they're watching their daughter in ballet class. But it's like an itch I need to scratch, when it rings I have to pull my trigger finger away from the "answer" key on the Blackberry and toggle on down to "Ignore."

"Ignore" is an interesting way to characterize not answering a phone call. These days, when everyone has cell phones, we all know that if our call is not picked up we're being "ignored." In fact I told my best friend if I don't pick up your call I'm either busy or dead.

So maybe that's my problem. I just don't want anyone to think I'm ignoring them. Clearly, I've got to set a better example for my kids who are very big on rules. If the sign says "No Cell Phones" Mommy must ignore the call. I'll try, I really will, but I'm not making any promises.


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