That is the question….
The Boy’s 15th birthday is coming up in two weeks and all he wants is a smart phone. That’s it. Nothing else.
Sure, in some respects, it’s not that big of a deal. A phone. Just a phone.
But the phone is a huge deal. My husband says “HELL NO!”
I keep on waffling.
One moment, I’m on the “HELL NO” side. I keep on feeling overly tired and frustrated that no matter where I look, my teenagers’ heads are faced downwards as they stare at the luminous screen, their thumbs lightly swiping up or down as they scroll through their lives. It’s like looking at a digital tarot card deck.
I don’t want this for my son. I don’t want him living his life through his pocket. I don’t want him to go through panic attacks every time someone touches his phone for fear that all of his secrets will be spilled out across a tiny, brilliant screen.
At the same time, I want to please him, want to see him smile. He has shared with me his feelings about his birthday, that he has come to the point of hating it because all he is asked about is what he wants when he knows good and well that no matter how many times he asks for a phone, he will always be told “no.”
Because we don’t have the money.
Because we don’t want to see him turned into a hunchback.
Because we don’t want to see him disconnect from his life and plug into a digital life that can never compete with the real world that surrounds him.
The transition into ninth grade was pretty awful, ’nuff said about that. And I feel like we have finally found a stable foundation on which to exist. And I want to reward him for coming so far. And buying him exactly what he wants for his birthday seems like a pretty amazing thought.
But to do that would be to betray my husband, which is not in my morality. No, it’s not because I’m some submissive wife who wants her husband to control all aspects of her life. It’s because Pat and I live a symbiotic life of mutual respect and compassion for one another. Sure, we have a tendency to argue and/or disagree. We don’t always say nice things to one another. But, in the end, we return to one another’s arms and hold each other and say something nice like “I love you.” And I want to maintain the peace.
Pat said that when the Boy has enough money to pay for the phone and the plan, then all is settled and even he would take the Boy out shopping for the phone. Fair enough, in my world.
But that doesn’t help that as the Boy’s birthday draws ever closer, the disappointment and frustration settles even deeper across the Boy’s face and my heart grows a little tighter, a little more pained. Because I can see that he is settling for nothing best and stares at computer screens painted with various smart phones and just pines.
I know what it is to pine for what I want but can not have. I felt that way about wanting to have a child. Eventually, I got my wish. And his name is the Boy.
I do not have favorites among my children. I will never prize one child over the other. However, I do have a special place in my heart for the Boy. He and I are so very similar and I can see the pain of emotions as they spill across his face and I recognize them because I have owned those emotions as well. He and I are both sensitive. We both are emotionally charged individuals. We want to help, to heal, to show compassion. The Boy actively looks for ways to offer comfort to people. He wants to build up the world while others fight as hard as possible to destroy.
His English teacher loves him, tells me all about how the Boy will speak up in class and offer thoughtful insight or analysis. When one boy made some rather rude comments, my son stood up for those whom the child was insulting and defended the people in question.
So why wouldn’t I want to reward that type of behavior?
First and foremost, because the monthly bill for a smart phone is really hard for me to swallow, if not almost impossible to consider. I want to pay for my son’s years at college before I want to pay for his cell phone bill.
So, we have been looking at prepaid. However, when I cross-reference the pre-paid information versus actual customer reviews, I see that we would only be trading a slide phone that never really worked for a smart piece of junk that still doesn’t work.
And I can’t validate spending my money on something like that.
My husband doesn’t want another Verizon contract.
The Boy doesn’t want a cheap piece of junky technology.
My husband and I want to teach our son the value of earning the money and using it to buy something truly wanted and loved.
But my son’s heart is breaking every day that elapses and brings him closer to his birthday which will be nothing more than a great disappointment.
And I don’t want him to be disappointed. I want to give him joy. I want to give him happiness. I want to give him the damn phone and see that smile peel open his face and his eyes illuminate.
It’s been a long six months since the school year opened. And I’m weary of seeing my son drag himself in and out of the building and then drag himself to his seat at the dining room table and then drag himself through homework.
I want to give him this.
But I still keep on looking at the teenagers staring at the oracle in their hands. And I don’t want that….
And I’m right back at the beginning of these questions once more.