A few months back, our first born turned 12. It’s a momentous event in the life of any girl - not to mention her poor parents. Consider some of the big changes that have happened in my daughter’s life recently:
- Starting middle school
- Talking more and more about boys - and not in a “They’re gross ‘cause they pick their nose” kind of way
- Asking Dad what a “panic room” was and why he was building one
The biggest change, though, for all of us (mostly my wallet), was getting her her very first cell phone.
She’d been begging, demanding and practically water-boarding us for one for some time. For the previous six months or so dinner conversations usually went like this:
Her: “Guess what? (Friend name) just got a cell phone!”
Me: “Awesome. Pass the ketchup.”
Despite my impeccable logic, by last October I knew he time had come to give her what she wanted. Why? Because my wife said so. It’s the same way I knew when the time had come to have kids.
Once the decision was made, the next issue was what type of phone to get her. Needless to say, we didn’t see eye-to-overly-masacarad-eye on the exact make and model to buy. She was thinking something like this
Now, I'm generally a big fan of BYOD, except when the Y is my tween and I'm paying for her device. So, I was leaning more towards this trusty (and free) old friend
Eventually, after lots of research, discussion and a few tears (mostly mine), we split the difference and agreed to get her a phone for calling and texting but not for playing Draw Something with Jimmy Fallon (nothing personal, Jimmy!).
So, a couple of weeks before her birthday, like a condemned man being led to the chair, I was dragged to the AT&T store. Approximately $140 (before rebate) and lots of “Do we really have to?”s by me later, she walked out the giddy owner of a Pantech Ease (which, I found out later, is no relation to these guys or this place) - and my wife and I walked out the not-so-giddy owners of a new two year service agreement.
I, for one, still found it hard to believe...
it's official: the very soon to be 12 year old now has her own cell phone - which explains the monkeys now flying out of my butt.— Chumworth (@chumworth) October 28, 2011
Naturally, with the new phone came some new rules. We started with obvious ones like:
- No using the phone at the dinner table
- No calling Greece (not even with good economic advice)
- No Justin Bieber ringtones (that was mine)
However, as we’ve gone along, we’ve had to add rules that we couldn’t have dreamt of six months ago. For example, after this recent incident...
The 12 year old managed to soak her cell phone in hair spray. Luckily, I have experience in dealing with such matters (don't ask).— Chumworth (@chumworth) March 21, 2012
We now have the No-storing-your-cellphone-in-the-bag-with-your-dance-clothes-and-an-aerosol-can-of-hairspray-that’s-missing-the-top-which-prevents-the-spray-button-from-accidentally-being-depressed-resulting-in-everything-in-the-bag-getting-doused-in-hairspray rule.
One rule we didn’t have was one limiting her texting, since we opted for an unlimited family texting plan. As a result, I think I’ve stumbled on the solution to the world’s energy problems: develop a turbine that runs on the power generated by the texting fingers of a 12 year old girl.
The 12 year old was without her phone all day. So, if you noticed the AT&T network being quicker then normal today, you're welcome.— Chumworth (@chumworth) February 1, 2012
I figure my daughter and her gaggle of texting middle school buddies could replace OPEC. Goodbye oil dependency!
The addition of the family texting plan led to an interesting side effect of this whole adventure: forcing 40-something me to finally learn how to text. My wife and I had always avoided the whole texting thing (“Total fad”). But, clearly, the texting train was a-comin’ down tracks, and my wife and I were strapped to them like Nell from Dudley Do-Right - which, I think, makes my 12 year old Snidley Whiplash.
Surprisingly, though, it turns out that I enjoy texting. Who knew?
after all these years i just got a texting plan - and i like it!— Chumworth (@chumworth) October 28, 2011
The only part I don’t enjoy are all these new acronyms. Aside from WTF, I don’t use many of them myself. Between the acronyms, the shorthand and the misspellings my daughter may as well be texting in Sanskrit. (“IKR?!”).
Six months into this grand (and expensive) project, there’ve been many advantages and disadvantages (aside from the monthly bill) to getting our eldest child her first cell phone.
On the plus side, we’re now able to do things like this:
The kids are on the 3rd floor watching TV. Wife & I on the 1st floor and it's dinner time, so I just called them using my cell phone. #smart— Chumworth (@chumworth) February 17, 2012
On the other hand, there are a few drawbacks, like for instance
the 11 year old is at a middle school dance - which explains why she's doing nothing but texting us.— Chumworth (@chumworth) October 29, 2011
Not to mention all of the butt-dialing and butt-voicemailing she does.
All in all, it’s been a strange ride and, frankly we’re still trying figure it all out. The important thing is it’s good practice for when our younger daughter turns 12 in a couple of years - at which point I’ll be permanently barricaded in my new panic room.