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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eating my words

I should know better than to make broad declarations that start with "MY child will NEVER..." Doing so makes eating those words a little tough.

Today, I'm chewing up and digesting the statement "MY child will NEVER get a cell phone until she's in high school." Yep. Despite my outspokenness about how kids don't need cell phones, this afternoon I took Annie to Best Buy and we picked out a red LG Xenon phone just for her.

I'd started to soften my position on kids and cell phones last spring when she started babysitting and I felt like it might be good for us to be able to reach her where ever she was sitting. But, I reasoned that we could just call her on the house phone wherever she was.

Then, this summer, she got dropped off at the wrong swimming pool for a swim meet. But a nice person let Annie use her phone and we got her where she was supposed to be. No harm done.

The clincher happened this morning.

Mike dropped her off at a local high school for swim practice. It turns out the doors were locked and she couldn't get in. Apparently, after unsuccessfully trying to chase her dad down in the parking lot, she freaked for a moment, had a good cry and then sought out other options. She found an open door at an adjacent building, located an office staffer who let her use the phone and called Mike.

Of course, by the time he got back there a few minutes later, the swim coach showed up and everything was ok.

But it was enough for me to toss my declaration out the window and get the girl a phone. Adding her to our family plan will only cost another $10/month. That's money well spent for her safety and my peace of mind, I think. Plus, she's going to work that $10 off in chores or fork over cold, hard cash each month.

And we're not letting her go hog wild. No data plan. She can text (she's already sent 60-some text messages today. Good thing I upped the plan from 200 text messages a month to unlimited texting), but not send or receive pictures or photos. No taking the phone to school. Homework first, phone access second. Hopefully those are enough parameters.

I don't want to make too many "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots." After all, I'm still trying to swallow the "MY child will NEVER..."


kimybeee said...

Really, middle school is where a phone is needed. We got our daughter hers when she was ready to start 6th grade and had just made the volleyball team. We also don't have a landline, so leaving the kids at home alone with no phone is not an option either.

My sister got my son a phone when he was probably in fourth grade. It is too soon, but I wasn't buying it and 4 years later, she still pays his bill, so we let it go.

It is handy for them to have a phone at school. They can let you know when something is going on or if plans have changed during the day.

My kids ages 13 and 15 carry theirs just about all the time, and it is worth the peace of mind. You were right in not buying an expensive phone. Our daughter left hers in her pants pocket and it got washed about 40 days or so after she got it. We had to pay to replace it, but the kids have been buying their own phones the last couple of years. It can be a real valuable tool for teaching responsibility.

Marine Wife said...

My almost 9 year old has been lobbying for a phone. (No such luck for her) So I guess this is an issue that just isn't going to go away! The child doesn't even have anyone to call except us, my sister, and her grandparents! She wants one b/c other kids at school have them. ugh.

Eternal Lizdom said...

The important part of that story has nothing to do with cell phones, if you ask me. She had the sense to come up with a plan B. She could have just panicked and freaked and cried. But she didn't just become a victim of circumstance. She chose to take action and get help. She found a safe place and made good choices about who to ask for help.

That is something to be really proud of!

Nate's Mom said...

My oldest got his first phone in middle school. He was taking the city bus across town to the magnet school. After a few weeks, we realized that he needed to be able to contact us if he missed the bus or needed to stay after school for some reason. So, we bought the phone. Good plan. No data/texting or anything back then. We all have unlimited texting now. Good thing since he and his girlfriend text all day, lol.

My nine year has already told me what kind of phone he wants, when he goes to middle school. That's the plan here.

I love these, real life/practical, posts of yours.

Sheri in CA

Michaelle said...

Amy, I have had to eat my words at times too. I have a six year old son and I have learned to never say "My child will never...."

I love your blog! Very, very cute!