Monday, February 05, 2007

And Furthermore, You Can Forget About That Pony For Your Birthday.

Every Friday I have the much-appreciated luxury of having a babysitter for a few hours during the day. This is a lifesaver for me when I've got a job in progress as it allows me to work or run to meetings without having to worry about getting home by a certain time to pick up the girls at school. When I'm not working, which seems to be more the case lately, it allows me to take care of important tasks like having three-hour lunches with friends or trolling the neighborhood for donut shops.

On Friday Kira stayed home from school so I was here most of the day, but I asked the babysitter to pick up Kiyomi since I realized that I hadn't had time to change all day and I know how upset the kids get when I show up on campus in my pajamas. The school is only a five minute drive from here, so when she hadn't returned in almost twenty minutes I called her on her cell phone. I could immediately sense an edge in her voice, and she told me that she couldn't find Kiyomi anywhere, that she had looked all over campus and checked with a couple of her friends and that her classroom was locked.

To say that I'm prone to panic is an understatement and I was already getting images in my head of my little girl sitting in a strangers pickup truck headed for Texas and her new family. I knew in my heart, though, that more likely she was somewhere on campus and as I grabbed my keys and rushed Kira into the car the one thing that kept going through my head was, "If only I could get in touch with her and find out where she is." I reached the school just in time to see the babysitter's car leaving the parking lot and Kiyomi waving me at me from the back window - turns out she had gotten engrossed in a game of tag and hadn't realized she had run clear to the other end of the playground out of the babysitter's sight. She got a stern lecture from me about staying where she was supposed to be and about how, with all her running around and reckless behavior, why - she was turning out to be just like her father.

It got me thinking, though, of how I've often been faced with the dilemma of not being able to reach the kids, whether I'm running late to pick them up or I'm just wanting to check in with them when they're away on a field trip or a playdate. Which leads me to a decision that Rigel and I made this weekend, of which I'm happy to say is bringing me peace of mind but which will no doubt cause many parents to cast scorn upon us.

We got the kids their own cell phones.

I say this with embarrassment because it's one of those things I swore I wouldn't do until they were at least in middle school when I figured they could demonstrate some degree of responsibility, not like now when books, video games and lunchboxes are lost on a daily basis. I put it in the same category as those lofty notions I had many years ago, things like WHEN I HAVE KIDS THEY WILL NEVER WATCH TV or NOT ONE SPECK, YOU HEARD ME NOT ONE SPECK OF PROCESSED SUGAR WILL PASS THEIR LIPS. Now, nine-thousand-hours of SpongeBob and fifty-pounds of PopTarts later, I can say that Never Say Never is my credo, and a righteous mind is no match for a fast-talking Verizon salesman. At least I can say that I've been able to stick with my NO PIERCINGS rule and look - they're nearly out of elementary school.

In my defense I have to say that they were free, a nice little reward from Verizon for having upgraded our phones after being on our same plan for over two years. And we've programmed the phones to only call out to numbers that we've entered, like our home, Rigel's office and the local liquor store delivery hotline. We've blocked text messaging and allowed them to only download one ringtone each, neither of which can be anything offensive like Buckcherry's Crazy Bitch or anything by Clay Aiken.

But we've already endured our share of grief for our decision. We were at my brother's yesterday for a big family gathering and my siblings were incredulous, telling us how their kids (most of them in college now) hadn't gotten their own cell phones until they were in high school. We explained our reasons, though, and told them how we hadn't gone completely soft, how we were going to hold our ground and not buy the girls their own cars until they're at least twelve and that if they want their own condos, well they'll just have to wait until their sixteenth birthdays.

It is bringing me some measure of comfort knowing that I can contact them if I have to, or that they can reach me if they're in trouble or have an emergency. Kiyomi is going to a sleepover next week, and she says she's happy to know she can call us in the middle of the night and wake Rigel up, just like if she was at home. But most of all, I'm relieved to know that having crossed the line by buying them cell phones and given up the last shred of restraint that we've had, letting them get those belly rings will be just that much easier now.

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  1. belly rings? belly rings are soooo 2006!

    I am looking forward to the nose rings attached to ear rings by slender chains...just in time for this fall!


    I actually believe your little ones will NOT, eventually, abuse their cell phone priviledges...really, I actually believe this...seriously...

  2. No piercings? You are the worst, most selfish mommy ever. Oh wait, that's me according to my in-laws.

    And Dennis, when I was 10 my dad told me I could get my ears pierced if I got my nose pierced too. I ended up getting the ears done when I was 16. And then when I got my nose pierced at 21, he got mad at me. Go figure. Never did that nose to ear chain thing though.
    BUT, I did love Jane Child as a teen.

    Good luck with those phones.

  3. Well that just made me feel so much better! I think we're going to take that plunge next month when we also should get some kind of freebie for being loyal for two whole years! Our daughter just started middle school last fall and she reminds me often that she and her ONE friend are the ONLY girls she knows that don't have cell phones. My son, who is in 3rd grade, doesn't really care about a phone...unless it has cool games on it. Then he cares! But if I got him one at the same time my daughter would go balistic! "HE SHOULD HAVE TO WAIT LIKE I DID!!!"

    So we'll see. I'll probably get a nasty call from the mom of the other girl!

    No piercings huh? What do you think is worse - piercing or tattoos?

  4. Ha! Isn't it funny how all of our little rules that we set "BK (Before Kids)" fly out the window when we actually HAVE kids?! I've found myself in similar situations since having my little Peanut Butter and I have little doubt that he too will be the owner of a cell phone at a very young age. I mean, really, he already has his own digi cam, so a cell phone isn't a big deal, right? RIGHT?! Anyway, I think you made a wise decision after that scare you had!

    I've enjoyed reading your blog!

  5. Ha! You are so brutally real. I love it.

  6. I solved the piercing one by telling my three daughters they could get their ears pierced - as long as they didn't expect me to help AT ALL if they got infected.
    Result: zero interest in getting ears pierced.

    The cell phone one is trickier. Eldest (nearly 14) would like one, but seeing the few times she had use of a spare one, BUT DIDN'T HAVE IT ON, AND FORGOT TO CALL ME LIKE I ASKED HER TO WHEN SHE ARRIVED SOMEWHERE .. she doesn't get one. She can get one when she can afford to pay for it. (Until I give in when I have an anxiety attack one day.. )

    I have to keep remembering not to scar my kids for life. My mother wouldn't let me wax my legs all through high school (and I was too good to rebel). I suffered much teenage angst over that.

    (PS. delurking - love your blog.)

  7. How many times do I swear I'll never do something with my kids and then, years later find myself giving in? I must be getting very soft.

  8. We got my daughter a cell phone for Christmas. She is only 12 but like you I feel better knowing she has some way of communicating on her. We got her a prepaid phone just to see how responsible she will be with it. If by her birthday in Sept she has proven to us not to be wasteful with it we will put her on our accounts. So far she is doing really well, so much so that when any of us call her see wants to charge us for the minutes it cost her! She refuses to give her number even to her best friend!

    As for the piercings, when we were growing up, my dad said we could get our ears pierced when my mom let him grow a beard. That never happened! LOL! Love your blog!

  9. well your girls sound much older than my 22 month old son and I am sure you know what you are doing. not been a mother very long but have been at it long enough to know that what works for me needn't work for others.. and that all resolutions fly out of the window the moment you have kids. did a post on it sometime check it out when you can.


  10. Queen of "I'd never" here too!! I think we are all guilty of that, I'm sure there are moms out there who won't admit to this.

    Something about having kids make us go soft, esp. having an only girl amongst 2.5 boys. I overheard my hubbie tell my little girl the other day "yeah, daddy will buy you a nice pocketbook when you get a little older, how about Prada or Gucci!" And he's the most frugal guy around, AND she's only 22 months.

  11. i don't have kids but i'm all for giving them cell phones. . .so, if i'm already pro-cell phone does that mean that by the time i have kids and i've gone soft i'll be doing things like buying them a bong and teaching them how to use it.

  12. my husband is of the "over my dead body" variety too-but then he heard about the tracking devices, and now he's all for it;-)

    seriously--of course you get them cell phones, especially as they begin to do more things (like sleepovers) independently.

  13. I think your decision speaks more about changes in technology than being 'soft'. When my husband & I are watching a movie older than 5 years or so, we're always saying, "Why don't they just use their cell phone:)" I know parents who won't let their kids Instant Message (I'm talking preteens, here) cuz they think IMing is 'bad'. It's just a form of communication (as are cell phones) that can be used for good or for ill.

    I don't think you should feel bad about the decision to get your girls cell phones as long as you set limits (as you have).

  14. Screw all the people who say anything to you about it. I'll do it too. We live in a crazy world and if cell phones make us feel safer, there is nothing wrong with it. Now that being said...when they get a little older, like middle school, I'd let them text message some, but that's just me. There is a phone that I've considered getting Maya, a Firefly or whatever....just to have in her backpack, just in case. And it seems a little strange to a lot of people, but one kid being saved from a predator because they called for help on their cell phone (and it has happened), makes it all okay in my world.

  15. wayabetty, please explain how you managed to have 2.5 sons. I am genuinely curious. My husband and I want to have 1.5 children, but can't quite work out the logistics.

    Hope those cell phones work out. Maybe you could ensure the girls don't lose them by getting them each a piercing with a cell phone chain attached? Then again, if the piercing gets infected (as my ears did repeatedly when I was in fourth grade and finally cajoled my mom into letting me get them pierced), that could get messy.

  16. The point is not that you let your kids watch tv, feed them poptarts, or get them cellphones. The point is that you have standards, and are therefore different from those other mothers who don't have standards and let their kids watch tv, feed them poptarts, and buy them cellphones--but WITHOUT a good reason. Don't worry; you can continue to feel smug and a teensy bit superior, in the nicest possible way, of course. ;)

  17. Never say never, those words have haunted me throughout this whole parenting gig consistently!! I think you did the right thing in your circumstance, and hey when I finally let my boys ride their bikes to the store without us (last week), I gave them my cell phone for this very reason!

    I say brava!


  18. I'm all for technology. Especially when it can possibly help you find your kid if she's riding in some stranger's pickup on their way to Texas.

  19. Of course, I have to give you shit.

    If my mom had gotten me a phone when I was little... it would have been a big, fat black phone that weighed about 10 lbs. and was the rotary dial kind.

    With a really, really long cord.

    What did we ever do before cellphones? :)

  20. you just have to do what makes you feel less insane, ya know? As often as I'm dropping kids off and picking kids up and seeing other peoples kids unattended - cell phones can be such a sanity saver. My 16 has one, and I'd bet that next year our 11 will have one too. I'm sure then that our 9 is not far behind... oy vay.

  21. The number one reason my daughter has a cell phone is so I can yell at her for not answering her phone when I'm on my way to pick her up from the mall. At least that's my experience thus far.

    Pooter's getting his first phone next month, so he can call and wake me up from my usual drunken stupor to pick him up from T-ball.

  22. you crack me up! I think it's great you can get the girls a phone where you can program what numbers they can call into it. That is way cool.

    I think the only time you can make those ALWAYS or NEVER statements is before you've been in the trenchs. once you've been there/done that you completely forget all the stuff you thought you knew before. I know that happened to me, I use to look at Trent when he was a baby and wish I could remember all the crap I thought I knew so well before I had kids! All that knowledge must slip out the birth canal with the placenta or something.....somebody should check into that....

  23. I have vivid memories of being the last one picked up at school after sports practice. I would call my mom collect from the payphone, saying "practiceisoverpickmeupatthebackoftheschool" when the robotic operator asked for my name. She would decline the charges and then take her sweet time to come and get me. She was always wasting time doing things like taking care of my two siblings, cooking, cleaning and supporting our family while I sat out on the steps waiting to be picked up. If cell phones had been invented, I could have called her from the bus and at least shaved off some of that wait time. Or at least I could have entertained myself by calling the Psychic Hotline while I waited. But then again, it would have deprived me of some of my best "in my day, we weren't so damn spoiled" stories.

  24. Anything by Clay Aikin...agreed!!!!

    I feel lame saying "Great post!" but what the hell. Great post! Seriously. I can only imagine the worry you must have felt, and then you turned it into a well-written, witty blog entry.

    I already know I'll be disregarding my childhood promise to my mother once I'm a parent... (shouted through tears at the age of five): "When I have kids, I'm letting them eat ALL the chocolate and marshmallows they WANT!"

  25. Love this. Because I so remember saying those exact words: My kids will never watch TV.

    That was before they got hooked on Sesame Street. And Barney. And Dora. And...

  26. Your writing is hilarious. I think cell phones is a great idea. I will be giving my kids cell phones very early. Only for safety reasons, I fucking hate those idiots that talk all the time.

    The downside of living in a high tech society like Sweden is that unlike US, the cell phone works freaking everywhere. Subway, trains, basement, mountains, wilderness, etc. Even down in our parking garage which is under 150 feet of cement the signal is crystal clear.

    People chat on the phones everywhere. Bus, subway, luxury restaurant, and car. They have no fucking manners. My kids will not be like that.

    Fortunately I have this scary and strange power over other people. Not only do I look mean when I'm happy but when I get pissed off it's enough for me to stare at other people and they will instantly realize they better behave or I will have to end their lives. It's a scary power, I have no idea where it comes from.

    Talk loudly on the bus in front of me and the look will have to come out. Please don't make me use my magic powers on your kids:-))

  27. I thought about getting my two-year-old daughter a cell phone because she's constantly running away from us. However, after some due diligence, I discovered that it was just cheaper to tag her with a GPS sensor. Her new nickname is Lo-Jack!

  28. You make me laugh. And I love the Valentine's theme going on around here.

    I am the queen of never say never parenting. And besides, the phones were free! Bonus! Everyone wins!

    And your liquor store has a delivery hotline? I'm so jealous.

  29. You know, my niece has a cell phone and she is 9 (I think that's around the age of your kids?) I thought it was too soon, too until recently when my sister told me she was driving to pick her up at school and got a flat tire, and was able to call and her tell her to wait for her in the office. So yay for technology!


  30. OK you've made me feel so much better about my 5th grader having a cell phone. My M-I-L bought him one for his 11th bday because she bought my niece one for her 11th bday. I had the middle school rule too, but couldn't come up with a good argument to defend it so I caved.

  31. I was with you until "or anything by Clay Aiken." I don't know if you know this about me, but I am a Claymate. LOL. Not embarassed- I have a Clay Aiken answer tone!! Okay, cowering back into my dark corner now... ; )

  32. Cell phones. Sometimes I wish my two-year-old was savvy enough with the keypad to use one... like when she's out playing in the snow at the day care and needs to call me and ask that I bring her gloves because her hands are turning purple and god knows those day care ladies can't pick up the phone and ask me to bring them!

    But back to the cell phones, you will not find any scorn from this mother's camp. I'm currently fighting off highlights, blogs and alone time on the potty.

    Never say never... amen.

  33. I like to pretend that I don't judge. But, I'm a judgmental bastard. If we ever have kids, I say I'll limit their TV (which I REALLY hope that I do) and yes, no sugar. But the cell phone thing? They're getting them whether they like it or not. They'll be more for me than they are for them. And if they don't answer when I call? That's when the phone will have a dual purpose as a suppository.

  34. I panic too, so this makes perfect sense to me.

  35. Aw, great choice! It was hell meeting up with my drug dealer til I got a cell phone. ;P

  36. your liberal use of the funny makes me choke occasionally, because I try so hard to repress the laughter, in a vain attempt to pretend I'm a bored, ennui-riddled hipster.

    so, thanks.


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