Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Birthday Promise

My daughter has wanted a cell phone since she arrived here a little over a year and a half ago. (In case you're new here, I don't have an especially precocious one-and-a-half-year old; we adopted Tanya from Russia when she was ten.)  We told her she could have one the day she turned twelve and, today is that day. The Winter Solstice, a Lunar eclipse and my daughter gets a phone. Does it feel like the world should start spinning off its axis to you?

We decided to give our twin sons cell phones the summer after they turned twelve, but the boys were, for the most part, completely ambivalent about it. They still are. Between the two of them they use about fifteen of our shared minutes each month and write a few texts. Most of the time I have to remind them to turn their phones on, which is challenging for them unless I also remembered to tell them to charge their phones the night before. (Although they have managed to download a few games they haven't paid me for yet. Ahem.) At the time we bought the phones, the boys were going to be starting at a new school thirty minutes away and taking a bus there and they'd never taken a bus to school before and after thinking about it calmly and rationally, this mother freaked out.

So we bought our twelve year olds phones. Of course Tanya wanted a phone, too and we told her, "When you turn twelve," which seemed oh so far away at the time.

Turns out the boys didn't really need them. The day Kyle missed the bus, he called from the school office. Although I have to admit the phones have come in handy, like the time I was running late to pick Ethan up from Cross-Country practice. I was able to tell Ethan, who thought is was a good idea to run in shorts and a T-shirt on a thirty degree day, to go back into the school to wait for me.

It's hilarious to us to see the different attitudes toward the phone that exist between boys and girls. Before Tanya arrived here, the ringing of our home phone was mostly met with indifference, sometimes even annoyance depending on the time of the call, and more often than not it would go to the machine.  She hadn't even been here a week when she took a diving leap for the phone when it rang.  We sat in the kitchen and watched this in awe. The girl didn't even speak English.

Even though we know from experience that our daughter does not need a phone, we decided to give her one anyway. It's about the promise we made.  At the age of twelve, this little girl has been the victim of far too many broken promises.

So today the lunar eclipse is over, the days begin to get longer, my daughter turns twelve and gets a phone.  All is right in the world.  That is until we get that first bill.


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