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Yes, they can figure it out

Are We There Yet?

“Mom, it’s just so embarrassing,” my 11-year-old moaned as he dropped his backpack at the door and headed for the fridge. “I’m, like, the only kid in the entire school who doesn’t have his own cell phone and iPod.””Really?” I said, shocked at this new gross exaggeration. “The only kid in the entire school? You must be, like, mortified.””Yeah. And no one can believe my parents are so mean they won’t let me have them.” A little smirk tugged at the corner of his mouth.”Nice try,” I said. “Well then, can I get them?””No.””See?!”No, I don’t, actually, and it’s not because I don’t have one of those camera flip-phones either. A 14-year-old friend of ours received a cell phone for her birthday, and she claims it was in case she ever got lost. Hmph. I recall being lost a few times as a kid and I managed to stumble home just fine without aid of a cell phone. I remember putting a four-inch gash in my leg when I was 9 years old, and still having to ride my bike two miles home, blood pooling up in my Puma tennis shoe. If I’d had a cell phone, I imagine I’d have dropped the bike then and there and waited for my mom to pick me up. But sometimes we have to tough it out and make decisions on our own.I also remember a time when my mom didn’t show up to pick me up from the roller rink and instead of borrowing a dime to use the pay phone, a friend and I decided to walk the railroad tracks home. Two and half hours later, it was dark and the police were at my front door when I arrived home. Bad decision? Probably, but I’ve never forgotten it.I mean, I get the convenience of a cell phone. But I also get that being lost and having to figure it out on your own has some pretty big payoffs.My own 9-year-old got separated from us while skiing last winter. It took a few minutes for us to do a head count and by then he was halfway down the mountain.”He’ll figure it out,” I told my other kids calmly. He’d freak; but he’d figure it out.Moments later my cell phone rang (yes, as a matter of fact, I own one).”Mo-om,” the shaking voice said on the other end, and we were minutes away from our reunion. He’d flagged down a visiting Australian woman skiing by, explained what had happened and made what would probably turn out to be a $50 phone call on her overseas network provider.The point is, he figured it out (and, I admit, a cell phone did help in the end). He triggered that little part of the brain that says “Hey, I can figure stuff out!” And I assume anytime you trigger that, it’s a good thing.So I say, by all means you can have a cell phone and an iPod. If you can figure out how to get one. Charla Belinski writes about parenting and family life. Her column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent. Contact her at Belinskis@comcast.net.


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