Monday, April 12, 2010

Technology. Accountability. Attachment. Love.

We finally did it.

We got Daisy Mae a cell phone.

In contrast to my normal M.O., I did not hold out for her to have accomplished something momentous before she got the phone. She didn't bring home straight A's or get named "student of the week" or anything like that.

In the end, we were done in by a couple of very simple conditions:

1) She's starting to make more friends and spend more time away from home, and we came to realize that it was in the best interest of our sanity and her safety for her to have a phone.

2) She didn't push the point.

I think, in some ways, #2 was a bigger determinant than #1. Don't get me wrong; we both recognized that it was unfair and kind of a pain in the butt to have to rely on her friends and her sister to reach her when she was away from home. But in some ways, I was more swayed by the fact that, when she broached the subject in the fall, I told her that I needed to see more evidence that she was responsible enough to have a phone. She pushed back, but only for a little while, and then she let it go.

No whining. No complaining. No dramatic tirades about how we were the most unfair and backwards parents in history. No re-opening of the discussion on a weekly basis. She just stepped away from it and lived with the house rules.

Kiersten was very similar in that respect. They both would internalize rules, including their consequences for having broken house rules, without too much fuss. If you know you're going to be grounded for breaking this rule and you break it anyway, live with those consequences. If mom says no; then the answer is no. Screaming about it isn't going to change anything.

It's something I respected a lot in Kiersten, and it's something I respect a lot in Daisy Mae. That was why, when S and I started discussing this last week, I realized that Daisy would follow the rules regarding the phone. If she knows that she only has X number of text messages, or that she loses the phone for using it during school, she's very likely to live by that. (It doesn't hurt that AT & T lets you set your kids up to succeed by giving you tools to shut down talk and texting during bedtime and school hours.)

So we're giving it a try. She knows that I can get a transcript of her text messages at any time, and she knows that I have a full accounting of every call and text she makes or receives. And the device has a GPS in it, so I can use it to pinpoint her location to within 30 feet at any time. She's happy to have these controls, if it means that she and her friend Abigail can text each other 15 times a minute. ;) But more importantly, I think it signals to her that there is permanence here. That she's part of the tribe. When you grew up in a household where, sometimes, no one noticed or cared if you ate or not, there's a comfort in knowing that somebody wants to know your whereabouts to within 30 feet, that somebody will be there to answer the phone when you call, and somebody will come out in the rain to pick you up at the ice cream shop.

Daisy has been pretty much on Cloud Nine ever since we picked up her phone on Friday. I hope it lasts. I love her smile. And I like sending her goofy text messages from the next room.

U look like a @(^_^)@ in that shirt.

Oh, whatever!


bhd said...

This makes me smile, ear to ear.

The verification word, however, does not.


Ellie Creek Ellis said...

love you!

Lisse said...

I'm dreading the day when I have to start with the technology. T has a DS and I never knew it had wifi capability. A couple of the kids at school (not him) have gotten into trouble sending things to each other over the DS. The principal told me this was a problem with the elem grades, so we are not allowing him to take the game to school. I'm not looking forward to the cell phone days. It's bad enough that they are constantly playing games with my iphone.

I like that you are letting Daisy know that there are these security controls, as opposed to just using them without telling her. Good luck with this latest milestone.