Jane is twelve. This autumn she will be thirteen and I’m pretty sure what we’re experiencing here is not unique. The elementary school years were pretty easy, there were no big upheavals, just a bit of mean girl behavior in third grade that got nipped in the bud, but nothing monumental. Sixth grade was pretty much a cake walk too. This summer there’s been a change in the air.
Jane is pissed at me because I have limited her phone access. After 10pm she can only text us and her grandparents, the same goes for phone calls on the cell. Further, her computer time is limited to ninety minutes a day, the computer simply shuts off after ninety minutes. These simple steps save Mr. G and me from policing screen time.
Jane came to me with tears in her eyes. I treat her like a baby and none of the other parents have time restrictions for their kids. In fact some of her friends are scared of me.
I had to explain to Jane that I hadn’t recently called any of these other parents for advice on how to monitor social networking and child-rearing. I had to explain to her that unrestricted smart phones for 12 year olds means that a parent isn’t doing their job. I then got to remind her that I’m not her friend and her friends are not allowed in the master suite at any point in the day, not even to pee, there are bathrooms downstairs.
Something horrible happened. Instead of tears her eyes turned a steely blue and her lips pursed shut. We were nose to nose and I got a curt, “fine then”. My daughter turned on her heel and walked out of the room, composed but seething.
I told Mr. G about the event and I asked him what he thought. I told him that she’d said that none of the other girls had media restrictions and that I’d told her our position on it. I asked him what he would have said to her if she asked him to lift the nighttime texting and social media bans. His response? “Drop Dead.”
At least I have an ally. I really hate that it’s so clear that we’re going to have prolonged battles.