The Cell Phone Dilemma – How Young is too Young?

© Lev Dolgatsjov - Fotolia.comIt all started last June on the last day of school. The Girl came home with five of her budding Tween friends behind her, giggling and carrying on about the boys they were gearing up to pelt with water balloons. Before they left full of confusing hormones and water filled flirt bombs four of them placed their BlackBerry’s on the counter for safe keeping. From then on I knew my days were numbered. I made it through the summer but this September when Grade seven began The Girl made her move.

“Can I have a BlackBerry?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“You’re twelve.”

That was it. She doesn’t get all buggy like The Boy. His move is to annoy the hell out of us until we give in and I’m ashamed to admit, sometimes it works. Don’t judge. He’s good, real good.

Skip ahead to last night. She must have been preparing for a while.

“You know how you asked me what I wanted for Christmas? Well, I thought of something that would be a present for both of us.” Insert dramatic pause…“What about a Blackberry!”  Insert jazz hands, followed by a deep breath in preparation for her clincher. “You’re going back to work and I’ll have to get The Boy to and from school. Won’t you want me to let you know we made it?  What if there’s something after school I want to do and won’t be home on time?”

“I’m not sure I want you to have a phone.”

“Plus,” she continued undetered, “at the mall you could go to your stores and me and my friends could go to mine…”

**Cue: big doe eyes**

Clearly I underestimated her.

I do a lot of embellishing talking with my kids about what it was like for me growing up, how I had to work for everything I got, “all the leaves I raked and snow I shovelled, I didn’t have everything my friends had.”

Total lie. The truth is if cell phones, iPods’ and PlayStations existed when I was young, I would’ve had them. Don’t get me wrong, I was taught responsibility; I bought my own beat up car when I was eighteen, saved for a year for a stereo system with speakers higher than the couch, but compared to a lot of kids around the world I was definitely privileged. I never wanted for anything and I certainly wasn’t walking to school uphill both ways. I did take a bus full of unruly children. In the coldest of winters I’d wait across the street with snot stuck to my cheek with the neighbours Saint Bernard (who was taller than me) chewing the pom-pom off the top of my hat. Once, I actually got a tooth in my head, so, ya know, I’ve known some tough times.

My point is this is a different time, an electronic age full of gadgets and if we as parents can use them for the powers of good, to ease our minds, why not? I mean, provided you have a child with a maturity level to handle it. She does have me thinking about how I’ll feel being in another city wondering if they’ve left in time, did they get there? And what if something does come up? Oh, she knows how to push my mother buttons and with only an ounce of effort.

I know a twelve year old with a BlackBerry sounds absurd, I think so myself. If you would’ve asked me even a year ago if I’d be considering this I would’ve said you were out of your mind. I worry about giving them too much access and opening them up to cyber bullying and online predators, but she already has access. She has an iTouch and a Facebook page, all of which I have the passwords to and check on a regular basis.

So will I get her one? Probably. I need the reassurance that comes with a cell phone. I’m the needy one. I admit it. Yes, I’m bowing to her peer pressure, but I trust her. So far she’s a rule follower. I’m well aware she could change in the blink of an eye and I’m prepared at the first sign of defiance to remove it from her possession and she knows that’s no joke.

I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answer. It’s just another thing to worry about as a parent in the digital world. It’s all going to happen sooner or later and I would prefer to have her young and impressionable when my words of advice still have enough value to set a responsible precedent. It could be a helpful learning tool. I guess I’ll find out. I think I’ll start her out with something a little less flashy then a BlackBerry…something pay-as-you-go style. That way, I can always take it away if she doesn’t meet her chore quota to qualify for a top up.

What do you think? What is the right age for your first cell phone?

 

**pic courtest of © Lev Dolgatsjov – Fotolia.com

Saved by a Cupcake Recipe

This is huge. I baked with my daughter. I’m still waiting for my mom award. Baking is so not my thing. Big mixers intimidate me, so I don’t own one. I can’t even get Pillsbury cookie dough to come out looking even cookie-ish. Some are too small and crispy, others are uncooked, it’s really unpredictable. Imagine my delight when they invented the pre-cut ones, very convenient if you like the dough way better than the actual baked cookie. Why waste time preheating an oven?

Needless to say my kids have never known the smells of fresh-baked goods coming from our kitchen. It’s not like I don’t understand the importance of the bonding, it’s just I never felt my kids were deprived. They had a phenomenal day care provider who showed them all around flour and a rolling-pin. She is/was amazing and even though my kids don’t go anymore there are times when I still give thanks for all she did and one of those times was this weekend.

The Girl wanted to bake, “From scratch. No boxed stuff.”

I got totally defensive, “I can bake without a box.” Total lie.

She rolled her eyes and choose a red velvet cupcake recipe because she’s twelve and spiteful.

I tried to embrace the idea. The first thing I did was go out and buy a cheap hand mixer because I’d be damned if I was going to whisk until my weak nana arms reminded me of all the body sculpt classes I’ve missed. In the end I’m only hurting my own self esteem, right?

We looked up a cupcake recipe online. This one here, by Paula Dean. It looked simple enough, but that’s the thing with baking, it appears harmless until it kicks your ass and makes you feel like a loser. Baking is bullying. Self bullying. Sort of like cutting, but only with emotional scars.

We tried to commiserate the occasion with photos.

Just forget it…

Can you believe The Girl gave me permission to post these pictures? She’s one secure tween. I did manage one with her eyes open. They’re rare so I thought I would acknowledge it even though she doesn’t approve.

“OMG, Mom, my hair is wet!”

“But, you’re letting me post the ones with your eyes closed?”

Those are funny.”

Don’t ask me why we have a rolling-pin on the counter for a cupcake recipe.

So, we mixed all the dry ingredients as per the recipe. Don’t be jealous of my professional sifter.

Then we mixed the wet ingredients together and stared at the pink batter.

“Why is it pink?”

“Because it’s not baked yet,” I said, crossing my fingers.

We got out the new mixer and tried not to spray the cupboards, then put the cupcakes in the oven. That’s when The Girl went up to her room and left me to clean up. So I did, very passive aggressively until the timer went off. I said a prayer and pulled out the cupcakes with this thought in mind.

Except…

They looked about as appetizing as a sponge left out in the sun. Not a red velvet sponge, but a pink sponge. If SpongeBob and Patrick had sextuplets this is what they would look like. It’s hard to see in this picture just how pink they were, but The Girl wanted to call them Candy Floss Cupcakes.

Someone told me it might have something to do with the vinegar? The truth is I don’t really care. I’m not sad about it. I can accept some of my downfalls. I suck at baking and these cupcakes prove it.

“Total fail, Mom.”

“You were apart of this, you know.”

“You can’t bake. You better stick to a box.”

Obviously she’s taking no responsiblity, but on the bright side she’s given me permission to nix the baking which banishes any guilt I might have and leaves us to do our bonding at the mall.

Plus, she ate them anyway so it worked out for everyone.

By the way, I may not be a baker, but I can cook the hell out of a chicken breast, it’s just my kids don’t appreciate it nearly as much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

F**K!

My daughter grew up overnight. Suddenly she’s less about asking millions of questions and more about being in her room tuning me out with the help of her iTouch. On occasion I steal little peeks into her Tweendom and scan through her texts.

Yes, I invade her privacy. Why?

A wise woman once said, “Do you know how you can tell when a teenager is lying?

Answer: Their lips are moving.”

Okay, it was Judge Judy but still…she’s wise-ish.

It’s mostly innocent girl babble, however this past Saturday I had a bit of a surprise. There was a conversation with a friend that seemed harmless until I followed it all the way to the end where my daughter had written, “F**K!”

My first thought? Obviously from her use of asterisks she’s not fully committed so I still have time until the real language is unleashed. It was however my first, OMG my daughter is not a little girl moment. I’m not naive. I know she says it when I’m not around but this was my first confirmation.

The rose covered glasses have been officially removed.

Since Grade four when she announced a boy in her class had said a bad word I knew it was in her vocabulary. She wanted so badly to tell me the word. There was so much excitement on her face I couldn’t help myself and let her say it.

Her eyes got huge.

“Can I really?”

“Really. Once,” I clarified.

“Fuck.”

I tried not to laugh. It sounded so funny coming out in her little voice.

But once wasn’t enough, she’d felt the power because she went on to tell me the context in which he had used it. I can’t remember exactly but it was an awkward sentence and used just to display his intellect of curse words.

I told her she shouldn’t admire him because he wasn’t even grammatically correct. And that was really saying something since fuck is a hard word to get wrong. There are so many ways to use it. Noun. Verb. Adjective. It really is the best and most versitile word ever.

Personally I don’t believe in bad words, just indecent people using them. There’s a time and a place for all of it, especially in a work of fiction when bad language is necessary to convey a certain character. And I can’t very well take the high and mighty road when I’ve been known to slip in various driving incidents.

I do recall telling her fuck shouldn’t be over-used or it loses its power.

I lied, it totally doesn’t. Fuck just feels good to say.

And now she knows too. Now I guess I should have the conversation about how crude it sounds coming out of a young person’s mouth and when she chooses to express herself over texts or whatever she should always assume there’s another snooping Mother (beside her own) creeping on the receiving end who very well could label her as “trouble.”

Just today when I thought I’d cleared the cursing hurdle, my 8 year old boy who was scanning iTunes said, “I like this song but it has a swear in it.”

Here we go again. I sigh. “What word is it?”

“Damn.”

May his innocence last forever.