When I was a girl and I went to the mall to hang out with my friends, I was told when and where to meet my mom for a ride home. End of story. God forbid I wasn't there and she had to come look for me! I expect the same behavior from my boys, but now it seems to be a more fluid process. My boys have cell phones. This is a function of necessity, one of the things that comes with being a working mom. Now it's too easy for one of us to call or text to change the location or timing, shifting the plan midstream, or just call trying to find each other. I've noticed that the boys' communication skills are functioning excellently when they are the ones proposing an adjustment in the schedule. They won't hesitate to call and text multiple times in a several minute span if I haven't responded. But when I am trying to reach them, they seem to forget how to answer the phone or respond to a text. Or they have left their phones in their backpacks, other jacket, at home. Or the ringer is suddenly off. Or mysteriously they don't have service. It's amazing how often that dang AT&T fails them when I have near perfect coverage throughout the valley.Repeated instances of this brought about a proclamation. I announced after a recent series communication malfunctions the follow: "The primary function of your phone is parental communication. If you are unable to use your phone properly for this function, you do not get to have your phone. If you do not have your phone, then you must be with one of your parents when you are not at school or regularly scheduled activity."This was met with eye rolls until I denied The Teenager a ski day and made him spend the time with me because he had lost his phone privileges. And I made Small Boyne come to work with me and sit with no electronics (there were extenuating circumstances that led to that) when he had a Friday off school. I made my point.So then there was a followup proclamation when phones were reissued: "You are bound by law to reply to texts and return calls from your parents as quickly as humanly possible. Always. No exceptions. Especially your mother, because, to quote Bill Cosby, I brought you into this world and I can take you out."This established, we moved onto how to use these communication appliances properly. Being able to read their texts is, at times, challenging. Between acronyms, shorthands and their horrendous spelling skills (sadly, I take responsibility for that genetic deficiency), there are times I have no idea what they are trying to say. So I often correct spelling in my replies. And I have outlawed most abbreviations except the most frequently used, such as a simple "K" in response to one of my texts (see Proclamation No. 2 above). Honestly, the writer in me can't stand some of the text shorthands. I cannot abide the word "prolly" in place of "probably." It makes me cringe. Do we really need to bastardize a word, reducing it by one letter, for the sake of brevity? When the boys use these made-up words in texts, I feign misinterpretation, in an effort to make a point. A recent exchange with The Teenager:Me: I'll be there in 20 minutes. Will you be ready to go?Teenager: ProllyMe: Trolley? You're going to take a trolley? We don't have trollies here.Teenager: What?Me: What do you mean "prolly"? Teenager: Ill prolly be redyMe: Ooooh! Probably be ready! Got it.Sadly, I think our children a have lost a valuable skill by not having to ever use a traditional telephone. It educates and trains a person how the sound goes in and out of the phone merely by its size and placement of the mouthpiece and speaker, so then when one is on a cell phone, the skills translate. Not to name names, but one of my boys always sounds muffled and frequently can't hear me when he's on his phone. I didn't understand why until I saw him talking to one of his friends. I had to explain to him that the side skull and the neck were not designed to express and process sound. Proper placement of the phone is essential for efficient communication.As long as they continue talking to me as they move through the teenage years, I think we can figure out the rest.Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through email@example.com.