Being a grown-up is so not cool. Just ask Perri, my eleven-year-old sixth grader. Being a grown-up means that I can’t possibly understand anything about what it’s like to be in middle school. After all, when I was that age it wasn’t even called middle school. It was ‘junior high’ and it hasn’t been called that since the Stone Age or …well, since the 80s, anyway. And aside from that, when I was in sixth grade I was still in elementary school! Perish the thought!
Now bear in mind that I’m not uncool all the time. Most of the time I actually manage to stay in neutral territory. This simply means that while I may not be allowing her to exercise her full potential as an A-lister in the upper echelon of sixth grade society, I’m also managing to remain in the background enough to not be a total embarrassment. Like when I pick her up from school without getting out of the vehicle and making my presence known. Then there are the times when I’m even bordering on being just slightly cool. Like when I offer to pick up pizzas and deliver them to her and her friends for lunch on just an ordinary school day. (This gesture earns only the ‘slightly’ cool mark because even though I’m doing something totally cool, I must exit the vehicle and make my presence known in order to deliver those pizzas.)
There is one major reason I can’t be ‘totally cool’ though. You see, Perri doesn’t have a cell phone. I’ve tried to make her understand that I’m actually doing her a favor. First of all, not having a cell phone means that she has one less thing to keep track of. Perri is notorious for losing things. Her iPod, Nintendo DS, and just about anything else she can carry around with her have all fallen prey to her forgetfulness. Secondly, not having a cell phone means there is one less thing that can be taken away from her as punishment. Not that she ever really needs punishing because Perri is a really good kid, but that’s beside the point. It’s still a good argument.
She started by saying that a phone was something she really needed. Then she openly admitted that she doesn’t want a cell phone for actually talking to people. She just needs to text! She needs to practice that high tech shorthand that all the kids are using these days. She wants a phone with a full keyboard in order to make it faster and easier, too! She needs to intentionally misspell, omit vowels and intermingle numbers with letters to form words. And I, being the mean old mom that I am, simply enjoy depriving her of the pleasure of meaningless wireless conversations with her friends at all hours of the day and night.
My husband and I have discussed getting Perri a phone many times and we’ve both decided that now is not the time. On the practical side, there is the expense to consider. In these tough economic times we don’t need to be adding more unnecessary items to our budget. We’d love to shield our kids from all the bad news today regarding the economy, but it simply isn’t possible and I’m not sure that we should. Maybe they need to feel the pinch, too. I think kids need to learn that sacrifice is something we all have to do right now. Even when it comes to texting.
Then there is the principle of the matter. While Perri argues that she needs a phone, she is young enough that she is never anywhere without supervision. In school and at gymnastics she has access to a land line. If she’s somewhere else she is either with us or with another responsible adult. The need just isn’t there. I know that doesn’t eliminate the want, but you know what? That’s okay. So what if everybody else has one? If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?
Wow. That sounds like something my mother would say. And she is so not cool.