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My Turn: Family day out without our phones was a good call

Brandon Niederauer, 12, plays Zack in the Broadway

Brandon Niederauer, 12, plays Zack in the Broadway musical " School of Rock," which Marlene Willard saw with her two grandchildren on a recent outing. Credit: Linda Rosier

Like many of today’s preteens, my grandchildren were brought up surrounded by technology. Their iPhones are as much a part of them as their clothing. I have driven in the car with them in utter silence as they navigated through games such as Subway Surfers or Candy Crush Saga on their phones. My questions were answered in short sentences while their minds were elsewhere.

During Christmas vacation, I planned to take them to Manhattan to see “School of Rock” on Broadway. It would be our special day: the ride on the LIRR, center orchestra tickets to a great show, and dinner at a fine restaurant.

Although we see each other frequently, I wanted this day to be a bonding experience.

Shortly before leaving for the station, I asked them to please leave their phones at home. They looked at me in utter disbelief! You would have thought I had asked them to go without pants. However, after a moan or two, they reluctantly agreed.

While we were standing on the LIRR station platform, Abby asked me how long it would be until the train arrived. I reached into my coat pocket for my phone, but it wasn’t there. I checked all my pockets, slacks, and purse to no avail. I had forgotten it.

I must admit that I did have a moment of panic: I’d be in New York City with two children and no quick means of communicating either with my husband or daughter, and they had no way to get in touch with me.

But the moment was short-lived and soon we were sitting in the train. Idan asked me a question and for some reason I acted out the answer. This led to a good laugh and a game of charades. Then we tried to recall to whom a certain person was married. That led to a game of funny matches. For example, if Lady Gaga married Tom Brady her name would be Lady Brady.

After much amusement, we arrived at Penn Station. As we walked to the theater and passed a souvenir shop, Abby suggested we buy a camera since we had no iPhone with which to take photos. It was a great idea, and we purchased a disposable camera for a few dollars.

The show was terrific. We had a fabulous prix-fixe meal, and then proceeded to walk back to Penn Station.

On the ride home we talked about our day, our favorite moments, and which character we liked best in the show.

The day was a huge success. Perhaps we should leave our devices home more often.

Marlene Willard,


LET US HEAR FROM YOU Letters and essays for MY TURN are original works by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life, or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email, or write to Act 2 Editor, Newsday Newsroom, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747. Include name, address and phone numbers. Photos if available.

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