One of the big issues that arise when one of our kids goes off to middle school is: How are we going to keep in touch?
Even though I feel strongly that kids need their own space, there is no way around the fact that daily life separates our family and that staying connected becomes logistically imperative.
OIdest got a cell phone a few days before he entered the giant, intimidating doors of middle school, and Middle is reminding us of this fact every day.
“When am I going to get a phone?”
A few months ago MFP and I collectively spent about 8 hours on the phone with our internet/cell phone provider trying to figure out a way to cut our monthly bill. So, the idea of calling them again to add another phone and another 2-year contract seemed unappealing, to say the least.
Luckily I recently heard about MetroPCS, the nation’s most affordable 4G LTE service, with plans starting at $40 – taxes and regulatory fees included. Basically, you can choose any plan and any device and change at any time to fit your lifestyle and evolving needs. Like your middle child catching you off guard by heading off to middle school where he will be staying after school for sports practices, etc. Or where he is in danger of being the least-cool kid at school without a phone.
Recently I had the pleasure of testing out the service, which includes unlimited talk, text and data with a Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G, which is quite affordable at $199 (+ tax and after mail-in rebate, for a limited time).
Middle was jumping up and down with excitement when the phone arrived; unfortunately, he was shipped off to camp a day later.
But don’t think we haven’t used the phone he left behind.
Monday Youngest started golf camp on a course that is about a ten minute drive away. I dropped him off and sped off to pick up Oldest from cross country practice and then raced home to take my run and shower.
Around 11:30 a.m. I told Oldest I was heading back to the golf course to pick up Youngest a bit early, since I wanted to see his swing in action.
However, when I arrived the counselor told me nonchalantly that the camp day ended at 11:30 a.m. and that my son was most likely standing on the green waiting for me.
Except he wasn’t.
“Err, maybe he’s in the restaurant?” the counselor offered.
At this point people with walkie-talkies began swarming around us.
“There’s a kid on the 18th hole. Maybe that’s him?”
We walked silently in that direction, though I knew Youngest would not stroll out to the 18th hole.
As we rounded the corner I saw a runner walking with a small boy whose gait looked suspiciously familiar.
“I think that’s him!” I shouted and ran over to the lady.
“I found him over there by that palm tree and I thought he was lost…”
After a few tears, Youngest explained his dilemma.
“A mom told me to call you but I didn’t have a phone. And then she offered hers but I couldn’t remember your number. And then I told her that I would just wait for you but you didn’t come and I was really sad.”
Immediately I knew that, due to everyone going in different directions, he needed to take a phone with him the next day to camp, even if just to feel more secure.
I made myself a contact and showed him how to find my number so he could call me if he was worried about anything.
Oldest has also used the phone numerous times, explaining we could Skype with each other if we needed to.
“That’s silly, because you are always here,” I said.
But he isn’t. In fact, at 15 he travels with his cross country team, his Boy Scout troop and goes out with friends. If he’d had the Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G when he was out of town last week, he would have been able to show us the view from the mountain he spent two weeks climbing, because rear and front facing cameras allow you to chat face-to-face on the touchscreen display.
He did call us, and he used brilliant language to describe what he saw, but it would have been amazing to see the view he worked so hard to enjoy.
In addition to easier communication, we also have access to Rhapsody Unlimited Music, which Oldest plays while we are driving around to our activities. Luckily we agree on most of the selections, save a few which conjure up scary images of sitting in the backseat of a friend’s car in Colorado screaming through a snow storm.
“Bad memories, dude. You are going to have to change it.”
For now, MetroPCS service and the Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G phone have become more indispensable than Charlie, who seems to be the only one who couldn’t care less about keeping in touch.
“Some time to myself would be just fine, thank you very much…”
Do any of your children’s friends have phones? What do they use them most for?
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