I Swore I Wouldn’t Do It…Then I Did

"Seriously, mom. It's such a dinosaur."

“Seriously, mom. It’s such a dinosaur.”

“Our children will not have iPhones. I don’t care how uncool it is. They will absolutely not carry the internet in their pocket. Ever.”

I’m pretty flexible. I’m an obliger (take the test!) It would be my great horror to be viewed as a megalomaniac.

Sometimes I should care more, but I just don’t. Where to go to dinner? I don’t really care (as long as it’s not McDonald’s). The Professor wants to choose the color of the van interior? Have at it. You want some input on a new living room rug design? Either one is fine. I just don’t care. It feels inconsequential. It doesn’t matter. Yes, sometimes I should care more. For example, I’m prone to impatiently hacking my hair off every few months (I really shouldn’t.)

But there are other Amy Absolutes:

Thou shalt not have a DVD player in the car. Because children should be bored occasionally, daydream, and look out the window. Maybe even talk to me.

Thou shalt not do all the chores. Because a working family is a happy family! And the mother is not the slave of the family.

Thou shalt not speak rudely to mom and dad. Because honoring thy mother and thy father is a worthy endeavor.

Thou shalt not use my toothbrush. Or I will never speak to you again. The Professor has had to ask for forgiveness on multiple occasions. 

Oh yes, these things do matter. Technology use is my hot-button. I can get more fired-up about technology rules than most political candidates. Kids and iPhones. No. Why in the world would I put that device in my child’s pocket when there is a world to explore? When technology addiction is rampant, when a child’s brain is so malleable and still forming?

No, we shall frolic and sing with our bonnets and aprons on at all times….

The hills are alive with the sound of music!

The hills are alive…

I’m sad and terrified when so many of our children do not know how to read a textbook and pull out cohesive “take-aways.” When The Classics are “boring.” When Google is so easy, that “hard” is avoided at all costs. When English courses have to cut out whole books, curriculum, and reading because our teens just don’t have the brain power to sit still, absorb, and ponder Anna Karenina. I liked this post.

And yeah, I blame technology for some of that. I read less because of my phone. It sits on my bedside table, putting me to sleep and waking me up. All the dings, alerts, and Twitter notifications that go off in our pockets, pulling us away from absorbing, focusing, and being “all in.” I see the effect in my classroom every.single.day. I fight that battle every.single.day.

Two years ago I wrote about my gollum-like fascination after finally getting an iPhone. It’s been life-changing. I can actually find your house now with that nifty GPS! I keep an on-line calendar, use reminders, check Instagram, comment on Facebook and blogs, schedule appointments – I LOVE my phone. I love it. I love it too much. Which is why I wanted to keep it out of the hands of my darlings as long as possible.

“My friends make fun of me everyday,” The Boy tells me. After revealing he had to ask permission to use technology at home, his friend literally rolled on the floor laughing. Now, every time he sees The Boy using his iPad at school he says, “Nelson, did you ask permission??!” 

Come on now, are technology rules SO WRONG?

Last month when I assigned a homework assignment, it involved downloading the Adobe Voice app. Every single student whipped out their smart phone. I realized maybe my high school kids were right…they were the oddballs. But aren’t oddballs adorable?

My oldest darling, Cope, is a junior in high school. She has a flip phone, which is “absolutely mortifying.” The Boy, a freshman, flat out refused. He would rather not have a phone than to be seen with something “so lame.” Which sounds terribly materialistic, but there are a few things in a boy’s life that really matter (girls, meat, shoes…and phones?)

Let us back track to last week when The Professor said, “I think we should get you a new phone for Mother’s Day.” My contract was up, you see, and I’d been drooling over the new and improved camera feature. I didn’t object to The Professor’s wishes 🙂

Yesterday, we giddily (read: me) visited a Verizon store (where the customer service is out of this world, awesome) and discovered that not only could I get a new phone, but we could upgrade to a better plan (text me! I now have unlimited texting!!!!) and also transfer my daughter’s phone number to my older iPhone and pay LESS than what we were paying for her flip phone.

Ah, geez.

What’s a mom to do?

We took the deal.

Yep, I sold my child’s imagination for a few silver coins. The world is ending.

I had a moment. “Wait, wait, wait! I only want her to be able to take photos, text and call – THAT’S IT!” It turns out we can control the cellular data (for $5/month!) but if she has wi-fi? Well, it’s free reign.

I felt ashamedly resigned. I rationalized like this: she’s a good girl. she has a good imagination. she still loves to read. and sing. and yeah, she’s a bit addicted to youtube videos but mostly if they involve Lin-Manuel or cheesy BYU studio C outtakes. Also, I know that technology, used the right way, is AWESOME. We can change the world right from home!

At least, as far as I know. Maybe I don’t know. Maybe they’re all tech addicts at 3a.m. If you know of such behavior, you better tell me.

We held out for almost 17 years. Maybe it was time to extend the leash a little further. In a few short years, mom isn’t going to be around to set the parameters (I weep.)

The best part was having our stellar Verizon gal, Kelly, transfer Cope’s old number and plan to my older iPhone, knowing her flip phone would suddenly stop working. She was going to freak out. When Cope came home from school I showed her my new phone, which she drooled over, as I casually asked, “I called you today – why didn’t you call me back?”

“Something is wrong with my phone.”

“You must have dropped it.”

“No, mom, I swear. I didn’t drop it!”

“How sad,” I said. She sighed.

At this point I very slowly took out my old iPhone. Before I could say anything she screamed. And started hopping up and down. It was rather wonderful.

After having yet another technology discussion (I like to be thorough 🙂 ) she reached out her hands, snatched the iPhone, and whispered, “Precious.”

Heaven help us all.

Alas, it’s not all roses around here. The Boy has taken this injustice very personally. We obviously have favorite children.

“Mom,” he says, following me around. “You’ve got to let me have Snapchat now – you gave Cope an iPhone!”

That, my friends, is the latest battle. What say ye? Do tell.

 

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11 thoughts on “I Swore I Wouldn’t Do It…Then I Did

  1. Jackie Brouillard

    We used to allow free use of electronics in our house but I lost my children and they lost all abilities to deal with the real world. Now we have limited electronic usage time on Saturdays and Sundays, life is glorious!

    Reply
  2. Barrie Mooney

    So, we are dealing with this right now, and I am the ONLY (which is depressing and shocking to me) parent that hasn’t allowed her 5th grader to have an itouch- I don’t want it for her. I have kept my dinosaur phone, like the one you pictured, in order to be a model for her, but the pressure for her is big…we are starting the discussion on parameters. I am curious what your “rules”for tech. are?

    Reply
    1. maisymak Post author

      Hi Barrie, no doubt it is very hard. My middle-schooler (6th grade) is moaning and groaning to get a phone (she says: “everyone else has one!”) but I’m not going to budge until high school. We live in a small town so we can get away with it more, perhaps, than kids in more urban areas. She is buying an iPod for her birthday and we will attempt to monitor usage as best we can. Here is our “contract” we made with our kids. It’s been very helpful to say, “you agreed to the rules and you know what the consequences to the rules are,” making the battles more cut and dry instead of emotional. Here’s the link: http://www.maisymak.com/2015/09/because-i-love-you-tech-rules-in-this-house.html GOOD LUCK!

      Reply
  3. David fleming

    I like the part about “changing the world from home…” Can you believe that in the underground Facebook is already passé? Even Instagram is fading for many and snapchat is the way to go. A few seconds of focus now instead of a minute. I have faith in the pendulum of history….things come back.

    Reply
  4. Julia Tomiak

    Amy, I can relate to this – ALL of this. Although, I caved much earlier, so be proud of yourself. Since we live in the boonies, we have Internet access issues. iPhones help us have a little more data to use each month. However, sometimes I regret giving my 14 year old her iPhone. I fear we talk less, she Pins and texts and IGs more. However, she is using Pinterest to learn how to cook new things. She was also, unfortunately, using IG to communicate with someone in “Germany” who wanted her to get “What’s App” so they could send pictures and videos. Red Flag!!! Red Flag!!! That prompted a serious conversation about predators and a review of the technology contract (which I have thanks to you.) Like you’ve said before, technology is a blessing and a curse.
    Snap Chat? That’s one of my NO WAYS. You can send pictures in texts. With IG. Why do you need Snap Chat? Insert eye roll here.
    Keep holding the line as best you can, mama.
    And for The Boy: Who said life was fair? That’s the line I use. 😉

    Reply
  5. Dianne Salerni

    The most maddening thing about cell phone technology for me is that it has replaced the ability to plan ahead. I have this conversation with my younger daughter at least once a week.

    “When do you need to be picked up?”
    “I don’t know. I’ll text you.”
    “But I have my own plans. I want an estimate of when you need to be picked up.”
    “How am I supposed to know, Mom? It’s over when it’s over.”
    “Then you can expect to wait if it’s not a convenient time for me to get you.”
    Sigh. Glower. Then: “Can’t Gabbey (her sister) pick me up?”

    Reply
  6. Caren Swanson

    I love this Amy! At just shy of eleven, C is already begging for a phone and the “obvious” (to me) answer is “No Way!!!” However that apparently isn’t that obvious, because many of her peers not only have their own iphones, but have for a year or two. Sorry kid, you’re going to have to be the weirdo! Well, Lindsey and I survived being the weird kids without a TV, so I’m sure she’ll be alright. 🙂

    Reply

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