Ever see a young person seemingly glued to their technological device, unable to seemingly have traditional social interactions because of a perceived dependence on the latest innovations and gadgets? This picture book preview tells the story of a young man who finds himself when he is forced to unplug from world of technology and plug back in to life.
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“How can the power be out? There’s no storm,” grumbled Mark. “It was just getting to the best part. This stinks!”
“There must be a problem with the electric company,” reasoned Mark’s mother. “Why don’t you get some fresh air?”
“Cuz I know the minute I go outside, the power will come back on and I’ll miss the end of the movie.”
“It’s not like you haven’t seen that movie before. I’m sure it will be. . . .”
Mark’s cell phone text alert interrupted his mom.
“What a joke! Kevin said his power is out too.” Mark grabbed his tablet and headed upstairs.
A swirl of angry words and a few floor stomps interrupted him on his journey.
Mom walked over to the bottom of the stairs and met Mark on his way back down. “What’s wrong now, honey?” asked his mom.
“Tablet battery’s dead and I can’t charge it until the power comes back.” Mark passed right past his mother and lounged on the couch.
“Mark, it’s a beautiful day. Go get some time in the sun. It will make you feel better.”
Mark didn’t respond. He was too busy texting on his cell phone.
“Mark,” she tried again. Still no response.
“MARK!” she said in the strongest of tones. “Put down the phone and get some fresh air. It will do you good.”
“Boring,” replied Mark. “I’m just going to wait until the power is back on.”
His mother frowned. “Absolutely not. Give me that phone. NOW!” she stated firmly. “I’m tired of you being tied to your video games and your computer and your cell phone. From now on, you are unplugged.”
“What does that mean?” asked Mark.
“No technology until further notice. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.” His mother grabbed his phone.
“But nothing,” said his mom. “There’s no use sitting here and complaining. Go outside and do something. Anything.”
“Fine,” Mark muttered with teeth clenched. “But I’m getting my stuff back when I get back.” Mark slammed the door before his mom could reply.
Mark mumbled and grumbled under his breath until he hit the end of the driveway. He turned towards the end of his block and slowly and angrily trudged down the street. He took his frustration out on a stone that happened to be on the curb line. With a swift kick, the stone went barreling down the road.
“Why don’t you ever kick like that in gym class?” a voice bellowed from up the street.
Mark looked up and saw Kevin heading his way.
“We’d never lose a kickball game if you kicked like that,” Kevin said. “Why aren’t you answering my texts?”
“My mom took away my phone,” Mark replied. “She said I wasn’t listening to her so she snatched it.”
“I hear ya. My dad gets the same way, always spouting off about me needing fresh air. Since you weren’t responding, I figured I’d come by. Breathe in some of that air.” Kevin sneered. “Maybe my dad will get off my back.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Mark replied. He paused for a second. “I miss my dad. He’d never take my phone away.”
Kevin hesitated to speak. The boys continued walking in silence for what seemed like an hour, though it was really only a few seconds.
Mark broke the silence. “My dad and I would walk down there all the time.” Mark pointed towards the creek at the end of the road. “We’d catch frogs, count the cars on the trains that passed by, and skip stones by the waterfall.”
“That’s pretty cool,” Kevin replied. “I used to come down here with my little brother all the time. Remember when we’d get my brother and your cousins to come over and we’d play football in the street in front of your house.”
Mark laughed. “That was so unfair! I never got to be quarterback,” he said with a smirk.
Kevin nodded, “Man, those were good times. We’d play until it was too dark to see.”
“Or until it started to rain,” Kevin said. “Remember when we pretended to be storm chasers. We were so soaked.”
“Oh yeah. My mom was so mad. Especially when I showed her the buckets.” Mark said.
“What are you talking about?” Kevin replied.
“The worms. You don’t remember the worms? We went out and collected all the worms that came out after the storm. We thought they were going to get run over by the cars,” Mark said.
Kevin’s eyes lit up like fireflies. “WOW! I totally forgot.Yeah, my mom and dad weren’t too pleased about that either.”
The boys walked through their neighborhood for nearly an hour, recounting all sorts of mischief and memories.
“I probably should be getting back home,” Mark said.
“Same here,” Kevin replied. “What are you up to later? Want to play video games?”
“Maybe,” Mark responded, “Or maybe we could throw the football around?”
“Yeah, that sounds fun! I’ll see if my brother wants to tag along,” Kevin said.
“Sweet! Text me when you’re on your way,” Mark said excitedly. Instantly, he remembered being unplugged. “You know what, just come on over after dinner. I’ll be home.”
“Will do,” Kevin replied. “Catch ya later!”
Mark headed home with more memories filling is head. He remembered endless nights of shooting hoops with his father in his driveway. He recalled climbing his neighbor’s maple tree. He recollected about practicing his pitching by grabbing crabapples that fell from his tree and tossing them towards his mailbox.
Before he knew it, he was at the end of his driveway.
He waited to head back in. He noticed a few crabapples on the ground. He grabbed a handful of the fallen fruits and tossed them one at a time at his mailbox, just like old times. He realized it was time to plug back in with his family and friends.
As he headed back inside, his mother was getting lunch ready. Before she could say a word, he gave her a hug and whispered, “Thank you.”
Taken aback, she said, “Power’s back, so feel free to charge up your tablet.”
“Thanks, mom,” he replied. “But I think I’m gonna stay unplugged for a little bit longer.”