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Tales of a Tireless Mom: In Constant Contact

Why buying our 6th grader his first cell phone prompted the Ten Telecommunication Commandments.

Today we watched as our oldest son Ben completed a rite of passage that so many kids his age have already experienced and others will likely be doing so shortly. 

It happened. We got Ben a phone.

For a few years now, he’s been asking when he could have one and we always gave the same answer: “Not until you’re in Middle School.” 

It’s been such a convenient retort, as Middle School was always this phantom date, SO FAR in the future that it may as well be the day after never.

Go figure . . . Ben starts Middle School in two weeks. Gulp.

Other parents have admitted that Middle School does seem to be an appropriate time to entrust your child with a cell phone, as they begin to have more freedom than they ever did before. For example, now when he’s at a friend’s house we can call him instead of their parents. And of course, so many of his buddies have had phones for a while now so we figured it was time to give in to the inevitable.

After Andy had brought him to the store to pick out the slick red Verizon model, I promptly received the following text:

“Hi mom i will be very responcible with my phone love ya.”

As the daughter of a newspaper editor, I read this and realized that we were going to have to have a chat. IMMEDIATELY.

Tonight I laid down the Telecommunication Commandments, as they shall be known at Chez Shumway, and they read as such:

  1. Thou shalt not text mean things
  2. Thou shalt remember not to make jokes over texts, as they can be misconstrued and one can get in deep trouble
  3. Thou shalt ALWAYS answer thy parents’ phone calls and texts (unless one is physically unable to reach phone; for example, one is trapped under something heavy or phone is in one’s locker)
  4. Thou shalt never text in school (not only because it’s disrespectful but thankfully, is strictly forbidden)
  5. Thou shalt not use texting shorthand while texting mother, as it drives her nuts and makes her fear for her child’s writing abilities (e.g., “you” instead of “u,” “to” or “too” instead of 2, and so on)
  6. When one goes to bed at night, phone shall “sleep” in a glass jar in the kitchen
  7. All texts can be read by parents
  8. Should one’s phone get lost, one becomes phone-free
  9. One must demonstrate responsibility and respect for both new found trust as well as for parents who are paying for said phone
  10. Should final Summer Book Report fail to be written, phone will disappear

So far, Ben seems to understand the importance of this event and sent Andy about 57 texts in the span of a half hour, detailing every breath and step that he took. Even though he was just around the corner, I suppose it was a good sign that he was making sure to check in with us.

After all, he knows better than to break the Third Commandment.

Lora August 22, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Love it! As a mom who dreads this day, I appreciate you sharing your "commandments" with us. As a 6th grade teacher, I think these are all reasonable ideas to share with your kiddo.... as the social scene heats up in middle school, keep these posted somewhere to refer back to:)
Alex Shumway August 22, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Thank you so much, Lora! Getting your take as a mom and a teacher, I appreciate it. Unchartered territory for us, for sure.
Lori Cuffari August 22, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Oh Dear Lord! Yet another electronic device or another "screen" as my friend calls it. Electronic devices were not in the childrearing handbook, so I appreciate your ten commandments. I wish you the best enforcing them!! It does provide that new line of defense...."I wouldn't do that or that phone my disappear"....along with Xbox and playstation controls....and computer time....and TV time....and.........ugh....see what I mean by screens!! LOL

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