The Curlykidz Get Blitzed (tweens & cell phones)
I’m pretty proud of myself; I’ve resisted the pressure for nearly four years… even though the pressure has really been kicked up a notch for the last two years, when my 13 & 10yo’s tween friends started getting cell phones. I have been asked by both Tyler & Halle, when they can have a cell of their own.
You can get a CEE EEE ELL when you get a JAY OH BEE.
Oh, the drama…
that’s not fair… so and so…
Well, I don’t care about so and so. Maybe so and so is home alone after school and doesn’t have a house phone… or they have a long walk home from school or ride the city bus… or maybe their parents have more money than sense. But that has nothing to do with me or you. I ask them when in their daily routine they are ever in a situation where there isn’t either a landline or an adult with a cell phone or bus radio, that they would need a cell… and they can never answer that question. Cell phones are a zero tolerance item on school property (which includes campus AND the school bus). When my kids are not at school, they’re with me, another parent, or in a supervised program at a local community center. On the occasions where I am willing to entertain an attempt to present a convincing argument, they are forced to admit that no, they don’t NEED a cell… they just really WANT a cell.
And after saying NO for so long… I felt REALLY weird and not quite comfortable when I found myself at the Verizon store today, getting blitzed.
Yes, I still can’t believe it, but the time has come. Last spring I suspected that my time was running out. See, Tyler’s middle school is going from an 8:15 start time to a 9:00AM start time. I had a feeling that there was going to be a similar change to his 7:26AM bus pick up, and I was right. Still not having gotten anything in the mail two weeks before the first day of school, I called the transportation department last week. Tyler’s bus pick up this year is 8:08AM.
Seeing as I really need to be at work between 7:30 & 8:00AM, this presents me with two options… I can drop Tyler off at the bus stop on my way to work and he can hang out till the bus comes like a handful of other kids do, or he can walk about 3/4 of a mile to the bus stop.
Both options are enough to induce a full blown anxiety attack.
And not just because of all the trouble a group of tweens can get into while hanging out unsupervised or any of the things that “could” happen to just turned 13yo boy who is very small for his age walking thru an inner city neighborhood. But because Tyler has, to be political correct, some “executive function deficits.” What the hell does that mean, you ask? It means, among other things, that my child has absolutely no concept of time, is easily distracted, and tends to tune out repetitive auditory stimuli (like, uh… countdown timers and watch reminders). So more than I would worry about all the things that could but probably wouldn’t happen, I would worry about the likelihood that my absentminded little professor would actually leave the house when he needs to and not get distracted by… WHATEVER… on his way to the bus stop… and knowing that, if he missed the school bus and had to take the city bus, he would have a way to get in touch with me if necessary. Especially since there were a couple incidents last year where he forgot to call & let me know he had stayed after school and taken the late bus. This bus has fewer stops, and since the community center is not one of them, he ran a mile and a half from the closest stop to the community center.
Obviously, I had to give some serious thought to the “family” cell phone.
In one of our conversations about wants vs. needs and just how LONG it will be before my 10yo daughter will be able to get a job, I told the kids that if things changed and one or more of them would not be under adult supervision and not have access to a land line on a regular basis, a “family cell” would be the most I’d be willing to provide until they had a steady income with which to pay their own bill. This phone would be available for use on an as NEEDED (not wanted) basis, and would be strictly for the purpose of calling parents or other pre approved ICE contacts… not for sending instant messages or pictures to friends or downloading crap I can’t afford to pay for… and thankfully, there is technology that will prevent me from being in a situation like the mother of an older teen I saw in Verizon today… who had racked up a $700 bill.
The last time I logged into my Verizon account, I had noticed a usage controls feature where you could limit features, calls, texts, and even the time of day a secondary line on the account could be used. I decided to check that out, and discovered the Chaperone feature, which will notify you with a text message when your child enters & exits zones that you set up, and will even allow you to track the phone via GPS.
Just call me Mrs. Big Brother (an alternate title for this blog). And if this seems a little creepy to some people, or an invasion of privacy… so be it. I know that I will be sitting at my desk every day with only half my mind on my work until 10:30AM, which is the time I have mentally calculated to be the latest I would get a call from the school should my son not arrive there. And I could ask that Tyler call/text me when he leaves the house and again when he arrives at the bus stop, or gets to school… but he is sure to forget occasionally (if not frequently), and I really don’t want either one of us to feel like we’re still connected by the umbilical cord.
So once I had come to the uneasy decision that a cell phone would not only provide peace of mind and emergency communication, but could also replace the wrist organizer with a device that has a vibrate function, I just had to figure out the financials. I had been planning on replacing Tyler’s Timex Ironman but hadn’t yet ordered it (thank goodness); with my work discount & the rebate, the cell phone is $50 cheaper, which pays for at least the first three to five months of extra parental control features. Moving to a shared plan was $30/month more… so I dropped a $30 feature I haven’t been using much the last couple of months. In a few months, after we’ve worked out the kinks and the man cub is getting himself out the door and to the bus without me having to check up on him, we can drop the electronic leash/Chaperone feature… although the usage controls will remain!
Happy 13th Birthday, Tyler. Here’s your new lo-jack unit…
(another alternate title for this blog)Although this was purchased as a family phone, the only child who will have a regular need to use it at this time will be Tyler, so it’s primarily a phone for him, that will probably be issued to Halle on the rare occasions where I need to leave during her volleyball practices or tournaments to run an errand. And my next blog, coming soon (yeah, I know you hear that a lot)… Kid/Tween Cell Phone Rules!