We’ve entered a new era…the era of computers, e-mail, cell phones and, best of all, instant access to our kids! I must admit that I entered this era without a lot of enthusiasm. It just seems like the more technology we give our kids, the less control we have over them. And, let’s face it, I’m nothing if not a control freak.
I’ve been called the original “helicopter mom,” and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I own that title. So you can imagine that the decision to allow Amber to have her first cell phone was one that – for me – came with a fair amount of anxiety.
It’s been three years since Amber received her first cell phone on her 13th birthday, and I must admit that I almost regret not caving in earlier. For every benefit she has received from it, I’ve received an equal measure of benefit. What types of benefits, you ask? Allow me to explain.
How many times have you asked your child to do a chore around the house only to find it not completed and be told “But Mom! You never told me to…(clean out the dishwasher…mow the yard…clean my room..)!” With a cell phone, that problem is no longer of concern. You can just pick up your own cell phone and text your instructions to them…because you know that the phone is always within fingertip reach, and you also know that it’s not in them to ignore a text without responding. Now you have proof! “Oh yes, I did tell you! I texted it to you at 3:17:57. Check your text log because you responded to that text at 3:19:02 and said….”
A typical text message from me to Amber might be: “Please clean out the dishwasher in the next 90 minutes. At 3:30, I’ll check the dishwasher and – if it’s not done – then I’ll allow you the privilege of doing the next load of dishes.” Bwaaaaahhhhhhaaaaa! I never said I wasn’t creative, not to mention downright evil!
Another benefit of the cell phone is that it gives you more grounding power. “Heck yeah, get her a phone,” said my friend, Cathy, when the conversation came up. “It’ll give you something to ground her from when nothing else works!” And oh how wonderful that advice has been!!! You see, kids will do anything not to have their precious phones taken away! Heaven forbid that Amber might miss the next “Hey” or “I’m bored” from her BFF, Sarah
Beyond the conversations surrounding the phones are the playful text messages that go back and forth between myself and Amber. Frequently I’ll send Amber somewhere and tell her to text me when she arrives so that I know she’s reached her destination. The following are a couple of the text messages she’s sent to let me know she’s arrived safely.
When Amber failed to text me to let me know she made it to her bus stop on time, I got worried.
A few days later, same situation. No text from Amber means I get concerned.
After many reminders, she still forgets to text me!
Some days, I think I’m texting with Amber and it turns out to be one of her friends instead.
And it gets really amusing when her friends text me and autocorrect leaves them with an awkward conversation, as in a recent text I received from 16-year old Chase to let me know how much he was enjoying watching the Showtime Series, Dexter, that I recommended to him.
But probably the most fun of everything is when adults goof up. Like the day I sent my husband a text message after a stressful day. I typed “Calgon, Take Me Away!” Autocorrect kicked in, and what he received instead was “Calvin, Take Me Away.” Let me tell you…it took quite a bit of ‘splain’ to get him to understand that there was no “Calvin!”
And finally, there’s the texts I receive from my best friend in Oklahoma. If I don’t answer her text right away, I’m likely to get something like this:
As you can see, the new technology has its ups and downs for both sides. From Amber’s side she has to deal with the text trail I leave when I ask her to do something, not to mention the consequences that arise when those things fail to be accomplished; and, from my side, I have to live with a small loss of control. But, in the end, I think we benefit by much of the humor that’s evolved.
It occurred to me recently that I probably should teach my parents how to use the texting function on their phones. And then I thought twice about it. As much fun and material as they’d provide me for my blog, I’m not sure I can handle the gray hairs I would earn from the constant phone calls I’d receive from them requesting help walking them through the process over the phone. I wonder, though, how soon is too soon to get 7-year old Braden his own cell phone?