Cell Phone in Triplicate
Inquiring minds want to know: Did we ever decide to get a phone for BB#5?
I promised him that if he stopped asking, I would give him an answer in 2 weeks. That two weeks ended mid-October and his answer was a conditional yes: He gets a phone but we weren’t purchasing a new one. If he wanted a phone he could use one of the older models we still had laying around at home.
So, only 13 short days later (making his total wait period almost a month), I made my way to the cell store to activate a phone and get our 15yo on the road to 21st century communication. I must admit, that was one of the more interesting times I’ve had in an electronics store.
Typically, I am the last person you want operating a phone or making decisions in a cell store – I am impatient and the amount of money people throw away at a little black screen makes me break out in sweats on a good day; so sending me in a store, on my own, to activate a phone is like mailing an unmarked box of chocolate to someone who hates the color brown: Nobody is having any fun in that scenario.
But I did it because I love my kid and I promised – and I was wearing out even my husband’s patience with this whole cell phone issue – which is how I found myself in a little store handing the gal an older model phone (2 years old this April. Ancient) and she took it from me slowly like it was an undiscovered relic.
“I would like to have this activated please. I just want the bottom of the barrel plan.”
“Uh. Ok. Like the $45 monthly plan?”
“Uh. Ok. Like the $45 monthly plan?”
“Whatever is the cheapest one; Just the pay as you go thing.”
“Yeah, unlimited Text, Talk, and , like, 2 gigs of data”
“Oh wait, no thank you. No data. We do not want data.”
………. “no data? I don’t think we sell that. (Turns toward the manager across the store), do we sell that?”
“ok, so no data. But this needs a sim card and it doesn’t have one”
“Yes it does, just open the back”
(turns it over in her hands) “Nope, It doesn’t seem to open and there’s no drawer”
Ok, so I know things are bad when I seem to know more than the employee. I, who know next to nothing, had to show her how to open the phone. It made me recollect moments with the boys when they first discovered typewriters and dial telephones. My dad still has both of those relics and it’s fun to watch them get fascinated at such old technology.
I am smack in the middle of the tech generation – I’m glad to have the access and ease of phones and internet, but I didn’t grow up with it so when I realize I am getting a bit too tech dependent, I can step back a little easier. I’m hoping that with our family rules we do a decent job of the same for our kids in this media centered world.
I did, eventually, get a zero data plan and she did find the sim card; my son was pretty happy and we can now include him on our family group chats. His oldest brother greeted him with a “welcome, young one” but BB#2 called me: “Mom, what’s that mean? Did you buy BB#5 a phone???” He was a little affronted, probably more so that his younger brother is growing up and by turn that means he is too. I recall that jealousy, too, in my not-so-distant youth, and I still have to be mom through the phone and across the miles.
Since then, I can’t help but wonder why parents continue to purchase new phones with data plans for their kids. I see young boys and girls elementary age with phones and if this employee didn’t know they had a zero-data plan, that means parents are buying it for their kids. I know I’m not going to be popular when I say there is absolutely no reason a child under the age of 18 needs to have data on a phone. Our culture glamorizes adulthood for kids, expecting them to grow up so very fast in the internet age of constant contact, data, videos, and adult humor. Alternately, when said child (who had less of a childhood than generations before, rich with running, playing all day, backyard games of pick-up ball and imagination) becomes an actual 'adult', he doesn't know how. We rob them of innocence and then are surprised when they don't understand how to adult: They haven't been formed in personhood, a natural advent secured throughout history until now.
I hope we have set the foundation secure and cured it well for our children. My kid is happy he can communicate and I see that it’s not glued to his fingers and that’s saying something.