“Mom, can I take my iPod to school?”
I didn’t expect it to startle me the way that it did. We’ve always let the girls play with our electronics, our phones chock full of apps and videos recommended by Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech. I am not ashamed of the amount of screen time they have and feel confident in the boundaries we’ve set with what they can look at or play. I’ve proudly snapped pictures of them after finding them cuddled like kittens playing Stack the States together.
I think the difference is the idea of them using the devices in the company of the pack on the bus. The bus having become this place where bad things happen and things are learned at the feet of rebellion-thirsty kids. I was a late-bloomer and while I don’t kid myself into thinking that the girls will be exactly like me, they have been slow to dive into the glossy, preening, grown-up world that is so readily offered in the toy aisle. I’ve loved it and been proud of the time they’ve had, but I am also ready, albeit nervously, to allow them to dip their toes into new water.
Rationally I know that they need the opportunity to make good decisions and not so good decisions, that the lessons inherent in decision making are not something I can teach or scare into them.
“So can I?”
It’s Avery. She is at once the easiest and the hardest, feelings easily hurt and a daring that makes me wonder if she has enough natural fear to keep her safe. Maybe it’s better though, the fear I had didn’t keep me from bad decisions as much as it kept me from pursuing dreams.
“I’m not sure. I need to talk to dad. We haven’t really made up our minds on this, ok?”
She huffs, annoyed and resigned. “Hey, we’ll figure it out, ok?” She nods as she walks away.
It feels a bit like standing on a dock and stuffing marshmallows in a leaky rowboat that is drifting away, but then, Ave isn’t a rowboat and she doesn’t have a leak. She is a second grader surrounded by kids already using cell phones, texting friends and playing on apps as they take the bus to school. Briar is in fourth and while she isn’t asking to take my old phone to school as often as Ave is, she is even more surrounded with girls texting, using Instagram, and playing Minecraft.
There is something about this particular stage that feels vastly less intuitive, somehow with eating organic and outlawing Bratz dolls, I felt no doubt. These decisions were right for our family and I never wavered. This new realm of iPhones and texting, I won’t deny I am struggling. It feels dramatically irreversible.
All of these things will inevitably be addressed, I mean even as I wrote this Fin grinned at me from the dining room table and said, “Hey mama, I’ve been wondering about where babies come from.” I have to laugh and thank the universe for keeping me laughing at the log-rolling impossibility of staying ahead of all the twists and turns of parenting. There are no water stops or cooling stations, just more, “Mom, why was there blood on your toilet paper? I saw it before you flushed.”
When Briar came and hovered behind me as I was typing on the computer I paused. “What’s up?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing. You don’t have to stop. I just want to watch.” I was hunting for a pair of shoes for Sean. “Are you shopping?” I said that I was and we sat together looking at shoes, eventually shifting from Jack Purcell slip ons to open toe boots. Briar squealed when a particularly fierce, laser-cut pair of red leather boots came on the screen. “You like those? I asked.
“Yes, they are so cool they look almost like art.”
It occurred to me that while we haven’t cracked the phones at school nut, maybe we could carve out a space for them to explore. “You know sometimes I find things, shoes as an example, that I like, but that I might not wear. Maybe they’re too expensive or too high, whatever. Rather than buying them I pin them.
“You pin them? Is that Pinterest?” she smiled. I nodded.
“Ok, let’s try something.” I opened Pinterest and created a board for the girls. I explained to Briar how she could use the board and all the types of things that she could pin.
“Thank you sooo much, mom. This is so cool.” She spent the next 30 minutes beaming at the screen and pausing thoughtfully to consider her words.
Later Avery came downstairs, “What was Briar doing on your laptop earlier?” I explained that she was pinning things and that Ave could do it if she wanted to.
“Really? You’ll let me?” she asked. I nodded and let her dive into this new world. For now I think what she craves is new access, it doesn’t have to be a device on the bus. Yet.
Do you have the phone thing figured out for kids? Will you share your take?