I spent the day yesterday with my ten year old daughter and her ten year old friend Ann. It was monumentally exhausting. It was a new sort of tired, the tired that comes from your core. The tired that makes you want to weep and sit in a corner.
The tired where you simply want to say, “Okay, I give up. I suck at parenting, and I’ll buy you all sorts of fancy crap if you promise to never ever speak again. Ever.”
That’s right. I want to bury my head in the sand.
My daughter wants a cell phone. She may not have one. It is not a fiscal issue, it’s a parenting issue. Jane is ten, and although she would love to be 15, she will simply have to wait. End. Of. Story.
Oh, not really, because Jane then explained to me that she’d be willing to accept a telephone in her bedroom. I told her I was okay with that. She wants her own telephone number.
I have to get a ten year old their own phone number? She has a laptop and an iTouch, really? Her own phone number?
I tried to steer the conversation toward using things like ichat and gmail to talk to friends, and the girls immediately started talking about the “lameness” of social networking sites.
“Club Penguin is so stupid that you can’t even enter a number.” Jane began.
“Oh but you can spell them out if you need to.” Ann replied.
Note to self: Check and recheck logs for Club Penguin
The girls then proceeded onto a long discussion about OurWorld.com and how they “deal with” people who ask them what their real name is.
Both girls were enthusiastic in knowing that a quick reply like, “can’t you see, my name is Username834.” Lets the other person know that you plan to remain anonymous. Really, how long can a ten year old outsmart an adult? Both girls knew it was imperative to report the user immediately.
I equate the internet with the mall. I’m showing my kids around, and teaching them safe habits. Unlike the mall, they’re needing these skills more than I’d hoped for.
My solution? No cellphone and the kids are on laptops. If I’m in the kitchen, they are too.
Right now, that’s what works. I want to give them some leeway, but we’re just not there yet. The telephone in the bedroom? I’m thinking yes. Perhaps we’ll tie it to school performance, a birthday or even as a bribe to not tell her brother about the tooth fairy.
There’s a lot of push and pull here lately. My kids want to be independent, and it would be cruel of us to not allow them some freedom. We are obligated to keep them safe.
Today I have more questions than answers.