It was Ellen’s birthday at the beginning of January and we gave her my old I-phone as a present – she was distinctly unimpressed. Despite its ‘rainbow’ case, it was tossed aside as if it were a set of old spanners. Her favourite present was a toy elephant from the Disney store, who accompanied Ellen everywhere for the day. The I-phone remained abandoned on the sofa until I rescued it in the evening. We had to laugh, Ellen is not a typical teenager.
Now before you throw your hands up in the air at our foolishness, there was some logic behind the gift. We have been trying for a few years to get Ellen to use a mobile phone. First of all we bought one of those big-buttoned analogue jobs, designed for the elderly. Although the big buttons suited her, the phone itself was too difficult for her to navigate.
Fast forward three years and as she uses her I-pad daily, getting her the I-phone seemed the obvious step. Not only is the screen more visual, but it has games and a Find My Friends App. If she does one of her disappearing acts when she’s out and about I can track now her with the GPS (all very James Bond!) So we’re slowly easing the I-phone into our trips. So far she’s taken it on two weekend trips out with her carers and has texted me when she needs picking up – with minimal assistance apparently. It’s slow but steady progress.
Today we had a shopping trip. Ellen had some Birthday money and a New Look voucher to spend and she was very keen to visit HMV to buy a ‘new Bambi’ and a ‘new Finding Nemo’ DVD. I helped her pack her leopard print handbag with her money, vouchers and of course the I-phone.
The shopping trip was very successful. Ellen found her DVDs and didn’t have a melt-down when she had to put a third one back as it took her over her budget. She got her money out of her purse and took her change. In New Look, Ellen browsed the racks with half an eye on her new DVDs and other other half on the lookout for any leopard print items. Ellen isn’t exactly a fashionista, but she knows what she likes. Leggings, hoodies and animal print are her top choices, but she’s not always terribly discriminating. She did conceded that the animal print mini-dress which she had first picked up admiringly wasn’t something she would actually want to wear – and so put it back, before quickly finding a pair of leggings which she liked and were the right price.
Before we had arrived at the shopping centre, Ellen had said she wanted to go to Giraffe for lunch. I had actually started picturing myself eating one of their amazing vegetarian salad concoctions, before I was abruptly brought back to reality with a bump. ‘Actually’ she said ‘I want to go to McDonalds’. I lifted my sinking spirit with the thought that we would at least have the chance for Ellen to practise ordering again. Sadly I wasn’t so great with my own I-Phone and failed to record the exchange, so you will have to take my word for it that it went much better than last week; due mainly to the fact that, despite it being much busier, we had a server with communication skills and common sense and Ellen spoke up much louder – yay!
Over lunch I suggested that Ellen could send a text to her sister (who was off sick at home with a heavy cold). I leaned over the table and showed her what to press to open a new message and how to select the right recipient and then I left her to it.
A few seconds later, my own phone buzzed. I had a text message from Daisy. ‘So are you coming home now?’ she asked. I was puzzled. We still had quite a few shops to visit.
‘Ellen’ I asked – ‘what did you put in your text to Daisy?’ She wasn’t willing to get her phone back out of the bag where it had been slung as soon as she had completed her chore. After some coaxing I managed to get her to show me the message.
‘I come in minute daisy’ it said.
I laughed. ‘Ellen we’re not going home yet’ I said.
‘I know Mum’ she replied, smirking into her chips.