We Are Both Right

Can He Hear Me Now? Yes, But He Won’t Want To

If I have my way, two Septembers from now, when my now-10-year-old son turns 12 and enters the seventh grade, he will be getting a cell phone for his birthday. You would think he would be thrilled. And he will be — at first.

The rub is that he will be getting a cell phone with me as his mother.

© prima_vera/stock.xchng

© prima_vera/stock.xchng

Because his idea of a cell phone and my idea of a cell phone are two very different ideas. He’s thinking iPhone — apps, music, texting and full Internet access. Me? I just want to be able to reach him and allow him to have a way to reach me when he starts staying after school for clubs and sports.

I want to be able to confirm that he is where he says he will be — not because I don’t believe him — I do. Completely. It’s the rest of the world I don’t trust. My worry stems more from the nefarious. Neurotic, yes, but it’s there and it’s real. His basketball coach may expect my son at practice, but if C. doesn’t show up, will an adult call me to let me know he didn’t? My guess is no. And if C. isn’t at practice, where is he? Wandering off, fooling around with his friends or something darker, someplace no parent wants to let their thoughts go?

(It’s why I won’t let any of my kids walk to the school bus by themselves in the morning — if I don’t see them get on the bus, it will be hours [an hour if the system works] before I find out that they didn’t arrive safely in their classrooms.)

If I can’t reach him on his cell phone, it will mobilize me into action.

Hmm. Is there an app big enough to cover my neurosis? I guess we are going to find out.

So what will the cell phone reality be in our house? Somewhere in the middle I expect. (Remember, I’m the mom who bought her kid a video game system so he’d fit in with his kindergarten playmates.)

Right now we just have my phone on our family plan as T.’s is covered by work. So we’ll add a line for C. and see how it goes. There will be limits, very strict rules and parental monitoring of the intrusive kind. If he is able to abide by our terms, then the limits will be lessened as he gets older. I suspect and hope that he will do fine. In any case, he will be held accountable for his actions — positively and negatively.

Last year he was invited to a Halloween party by one of his classmates. He knew the boy who was hosting the bash a little and some of the kids who were going to be there, but he was nervous and considered not going because he was afraid it might be on the scary side. My husband and I didn’t want him to miss out on a good time and an opportunity to socialize with kids outside of school, so we encouraged him to attend, eventually sweetening the deal by giving him my cell phone to keep in his pocket, telling him that if he got scared or wasn’t having fun, he could call us and we would come and get him. We gave him very precise instructions. He was only allowed one phone call and it was to our home. Period.

About fifteen minutes before the party was scheduled to end, the house phone rang. It was C.

“Everything OK buddy?” I asked, hoping that nothing had gone wrong.

“Yes, great,” he said, voice full of pep, happy to be at the party (and talking on a cell phone in front of his friends no doubt). “I’m just checking in!”

And that’s fine with me too.

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