We waited until our kids were in 8th grade before they were allowed to have cell phones. Even then, it took awhile before we ventured into the land of "unlimited texting."
|Her first phone! Christmas Day 2009.|
Texting really is a cultural phenomenon. It is quite interesting that teens would rather text, than pick up the phone and chat.
It also creates a great chasm between parents and their children's friends that took me by surprise.
Soon after she received the gift of unlimited texting, I asked Darlin', "Who are ya texting?" To my shock, she named a boy in her 8th grade class. I asked her how many other boy's numbers she had in her phone. Apparently, all the girls and guys in her class. No big deal, Mom!
And then, it hit me like a rock.
A generation of teenage girls would never experience what I had to go through - especially where brothers are concerned: The phone rings. Brother answers. Discovers it's a boy. Holds said phone over his head while screaming at the top of his lungs, "Denise! The phone's for you! IT'S A BOY!" Racing to the phone, I would attempt to jump up and wrestle it from his hands. Eventually, he would just give in (out of pity or boredom) and give me the phone.
My daughters will never experience that. And my son, will never have the opportunity to torture his sisters in the same way.
It is truly the end of an era.
When I mentioned that scenario to my daughter, she laughed and asked, "Did Uncle Dave really do that to you?!" Yes. Yes, he did.
Pretty sure my Dad did too! Only he didn't make me jump for the phone. The teasing of his choice was to make funny faces and then sit in the kitchen and listen to the whole conversation. Despite the enormous length of the old kitchen wall phone cords, you could never quite get out of earshot when talking with a friend or a cute boy!
And this is where the chasm between parents and friends grows even greater with this generation.
No longer do my kids get calls on the home phone.
I have no idea who is calling them. I have no idea of the conversation. I have no idea when my daughter got her first call from a boy.
It is as if a traditional rite of passage from child to teen has vanished.
Since everything is texted these days, it becomes harder to teach our kids proper phone etiquette. We don't have the benefit of hearing one half of the conversation and helping them learn how to communicate better as they grow up. Not to mention knowing the topics discussed or language they and their friends may be using.
As a result of my technological epiphany, my kids now know that I can read their texts at any time. Also, I am apt to ask them often, "Who are ya texting?"
A few years ago, during family dinner, Darlin' got several texts right in a row. The dinner table is a no texting zone. She tried to ignore the familiar chirping, but it kept beckoning to her. The texts were from a boy in her class. We made her read them out loud, since it kept comically interrupting our family time. He had written a lengthy discourse of his summer travels, describing several missions trips with his church and family. We all had a wonderful laugh and we were glad to know she was receiving texts from such types of guys!
Many times when I ask "Who are ya texting?" the answer is usually from a friend or family member I know very well. Typically, when I ask what they are texting, the conversation is something like this:
If that is a foreign language to you, than you must not have teenagers! When all else fails, Google it!
In an effort to shrink the gap between me and what I know about my kid's friends, I will continue to ask, "Who are ya texting?" The repetition is worth it!
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