I likely made the wrong decision. I guess that’s not all that unusual, and I don’t think it is a decision that will make much difference in life down the road. But, nonetheless, I wish I’d had better options.
In the Tanner household, at the end of fifth grade it has been a right of passage to get your first cell phone. With child 1 and child 2, both having June birthdays, it was their gift. A flip phone, used solely for text, photos and phone calls.
With DJ, Lisa cut her left arm and exchanged blood with the other mothers in her friend group. They pressed their wounds together and vowed not to get smart phones until the inital end of fifth grade, two-year Verizon contract expired. At the time, it cost us $10 per month to add this additional phone line to our growing technological household inventory.
When Stephanie came along, I followed the path originally set out by her mother. Although child 2 specifically requested an iPhone, I stood strong.
“But dad, ALL of my friends have one…”
We went through the list of ALL of her friends. As I suspected, it was a lie. Not everyone had a smart phone. In fact, most did not.
As I entered the Verizon store last week with my final daughter, my plan was solid. She did not need a data plan. She was too young. It mattered not that I had confirmed three of her very best friends did indeed have one. For crying out loud, my 17-year-old is driving a car her same age. I am not a parent who falls for the Everyone Has argument. Plenty of people I know have a beach house, and my butt is thankful I have a father-in-law generous enough to rent a place for the family one week each July.
As we neared the phone shop, a nice young man with a pull over hoodie and pants anchored around his hips met us at the door. His iPad in tow, he began crunching numbers.
“Mr. Tanner. If you add a flip phone with unlimited text and calls, it will cost you $30 per month.”
“$30? I thought it was $10.”
That was his answer. Nah.
“Well what does it cost to add a smart phone?”
“Let’s see. You have plenty of data that is unused each month, so we could add an iPhone for $40.”
I mean, he couldda said, Yes sir.
So for $10 bucks we get the Caddilac instead of the Pinto… hummm.
I pondered. Am I spoiling my kid? Am I exposing her to stuff too early? Is she going to watch videos all day and flunk out of school? Will she become homeless? Addicted to crack cocaine?
When we arrived home with the gadget neither of us had expected to return with, I broke the news to her sisters.
“It was en economic decision,” I argued. I then reminded Stephanie of the unusually expensive boots I’d purchased her last winter because they were slightly on sale and were so stinkin’ cute. “DJ didn’t get a pair of shoes that nice until she was in 10th grade and going to a school dance!”
DJ muttered an expletive and told me that I might as well have given my final daughter away. “Don’t complain to me when she ignores you or won’t talk to you at dinner. You might as well have shipped her off to college!”
I think that may be an overreaction, although I did have to ask Michelle to put her phone away during the worship service at church last Sunday. She wasn’t texting, she was just rubbing it across her face, like you would do with someone’s hand as they departed this life for the next.
The frustrating thing is that had I not lost my wife to cancer, I wouldn’t even be making these decisions. I would have been informed and could have chosen to support the decision or participated in the nonviolent resistance. Either way, I would have basically been off the hook.
There are so many questions surrounding this decision:
- Why did I cave?
- Am I allowing my preteen to grow up too fast?
- Why do young salespeople answer questions like they’re sending a text message?
- Why don’t sisters want each other to have good stuff?
- Why do I have to make all the decisions?
I have some pondering to do.
Check the Tanners out in the September issue of Family Circle
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