Her arguments were a mix of compelling passion and begging. But, when she said that her possession of her very own cell phone would guarantee that I could be in touch with her at any time wherever we were, I knew she’d won. The next day, with visions of my daughter’s face on the back of a milk carton because she didn’t have a cell phone, my husband and I got her a brand new fancy phone, complete with a cute case.
We established the ground rules quickly. We had the phone at night. She was never to delete messages—text or voice; we had full Big Brother-authority over those. It was a privilege to have the phone, not a right and should she ever abuse it, she lost it. Also, whenever we, her parents, texted or called her, she was to answer, no matter what.
At her first middle school function the next week, I resisted the urge for a full forty-five minutes and then finally broke down and texted her: Have fun?
She texted back quickly: MOM!
Yes, most of her texts are in caps. Most of her actual words are in all caps as well. Having a cell phone hadn’t changed her at all.
Eventually the newness wore off, and we settled back into our pre-cell phone life with a tween. We dutifully checked her messages and history every evening after tucking her into bed. She was responsibly using her phone. I felt confident in our decision knowing that we were raising her to be responsible and knowing that if she were ever stuffed in the trunk of a getaway car, we could GPS her and her back pocket which held the phone and rescue her. I breathed easy—and as momma, that’s not easy to do.
I was still feeling confident in my Mother-Of-The-Year status when I got the text: HELP ME!
I texted back: OMG! (cause I’m a hip mom like that) What’s wrong?
Then I thought better of texting in an emergency. If this were an actual crisis, I’d want to call her. So I dialed. Then I hung up because what if the ring gives her away to the bad guys and puts her in even more danger. Then I dialed anyway because I just wanted to hear her voice—gulp! What if it was the last time to hear it?!
Before I could dial again, I got another text: I NEED TOILET PAPER.
We did have a chat about the term “Help me,” when she was sufficiently dry.