Today was the day. I bit the bullet and got Blaison his very. first. cell. phone.
Let me start by saying that I don’t think there’s an exact age, a mathematical formula, or even a certain grade that would be classified as the right time for a child to have a cell phone. I truly feel that each situation is different and in our case, we waited. I told myself years ago that I was going to wait, despite the trips to visit his mom or the cross-country practices that may or may not have rained out, WE were going to wait. I was going to wait until the day or even days for that matter, that I told myself “…ok, so he probably needed a phone for that…” and he was going to wait until he could show me a continuous sense of maturity and responsibility that stuck and wasn’t just a quick show to put a smile on my face.
Sure, there were times where I almost broke that promise I made to myself….times that I wanted so badly for him to have a phone just like most of his classmates….times that I hated knowing he was one of only a few that didn’t have one….but I didn’t. I quickly talked myself down from the emotion of it all and remembered the reason I promised myself I’d wait. I wanted to teach him that a phone wasn’t the status symbol he’d dreamt it up to be and it wasn’t just something that “every other” kid his age had, it was so much more. A phone was a responsibility. A phone was a gift, not something we as his parents were just going to hand over to shut him up. A phone was something he’d have to work for and show us that he was mature enough to handle.
As Blaison’s fifth grade year came to an end, I knew this summer was “the summer.” This was the summer that I had promised him years ago that he would finally get that phone he wanted so badly. Like any other 11 year old, he came home from his last day of school and he asked for it as soon as he walked through the front door but like he was so used to hearing, he was going to have to wait. A few months into his summer, it finally hit me. Maybe it was his desire to connect with his little brothers all of a sudden or possibly his new found responsibility when he kept them here and there for me. I knew he was ready. He had grown into a responsible young man. One that I knew would not take a new phone for granted and respect the trust we had given him.
As we drove home today, Blaison sat next to me like a kid on Christmas morning. Giddily inputting phone numbers, changing backgrounds, adding people to his favorites list, changing his background again…things I expected he would do the minute the phone touched his hands. What I didn’t expect was the emotion that came along with that car ride. Once he got his phone just so, he began calling his friends, talking about texting and FaceTime. He was using words like “my phone” and talking about calling his dad or I when and if he ever needed something. I thought to myself “…seriously, is he that old now?!” Is he really growing up that quickly? I was the one that could get a maw maw on the phone at the drop of a hat and here he was doing it all on his own. He was just so independent all of a sudden. What I realized by the end of that car ride was how thankful I was that we waited until now to give him his phone. Did I have him wait to teach him a lesson on patience? Probably. Or did I have him wait for my own selfish reasons, with hopes of keeping him my sweet little boy forever? Most likely. The truth of the matter is that it all happened for a reason, just as it was supposed to. He has learned patience and the worth something holds once you’ve put the time into it.
I know that to some, sixth grade isn’t really considered “waiting” and to some, fourth grade is considered “waiting.” But for all of us, there is a right time. One that is fitting for each family and each child, but all different from one to the next. We discussed the issue as a family over the past few years, letting Blaison know what was expected of him and what he’d have to prove to earn it. Giving him this understanding continuously showed him that we were going to be the decision makers. Today, not only do I have myself an 11-year-old little boy who is over the moon about such a gift but I have the peace of mind knowing that this particular 11-year-old little boy is responsible enough to handle his new phone. With this, I say wait. Don’t wait until everyone else does or doesn’t. Don’t wait until you’ve had enough of the complaining. Don’t wait until you’ve had enough of them using your battery. Wait until you know they are ready because in the end it will be so worth it to you both.