Friday, September 03, 2010

Cell-Phone Parenting

I hate being a cell-phone parent.
Maybe that is what I have been since my kids started school four years ago and I gave all three of them a phone. It's convenient to keep track of them as they roam our little town. "Where are you?" I will text.
"At the turf," comes the reply a second later.
They know they must answer their phones when I call or text, or they risk losing their cell phones. "You have that phone so I can reach you!" I threaten.
Having one child go far away puts a whole new spin on cell-phone parenting.
When I went to college, my parents arranged for me to await their call each Sunday night. I would linger in the lobby waiting for the one phone in the dorm to ring. I wasn't very mature at age 17 when I went away to college. I'm sure my conversations with my parents depended on what kind of mood I was in right at that moment.
Now, Grace can contact me and I can contact her during every up and down of her life. And we do.
My friend Michelle explained that the freshman year is like a W -- it has its ups and downs. They love it one moment then hate it the next. I think Grace's first few weeks have been like WWWWWW. She made friends. She loved everyone in her dorm.But, scheduling her classes was a mess -- she hated it. Their dorm made a music video, but she missed an assignment because she didn't see the posting.
They went swimming in the river and jumped off a rope swing, but she lost her student id so she couldn't get into the dorm or go to the cafeteria.
When Grace calls or texts with these dilemmas, she doesn't really ask what she should do. She is just sharing her life. (Okay, I did help with scheduling classes:P)
When she missed the assignment in class, she had already gone to the professor to see how to make it up. When she lost her student id, she went to security. She called me as she trudged across campus in the 95-degree heat to get her driver's license. She wanted to complain. That's fine. I can take the complaining. When I check with her later, she is usually fine.
Learning about the ups and downs as they occur feels exhausting. It's like watching a far away movie that my kid is starring in. I can't affect the outcome at all.
Last night, the swim team was having a ritual. Grace was petrified. Were they going to be hazed?
She tried to ferret out details. Red wine would be involved. "Don't wear anything that you mind getting stained" was my advice. Were the older girls seriously going to force them to drink? I tried to be reassuring.
Meanwhile, she arranged for her roommate and a friend to walk over to retrieve her from the swim team ritual at 11 p.m. That way, if she had been forced to drink, she would get home safely. That seems like a smart exit strategy.
Overall, she's making mature choices.
Now I just need to get to the point that I can let go of the worries about her as she burrows her way out of the bottom of that W and heads to the next peak. I'm sure that with a three-day weekend upon us, she will be soaring along the top of the W all weekend long.
Here's Grace teaching her baby cousin, Caroline, how to text in case she ever needs some cell-phone parenting from her mom.


Linda said...

We didn't have cell phones yet when my kids started college. It probably saved me some worry since I didn't know what they were doing. I just saw them on occasional weekends when they brought their dirty laundry home.

Anonymous said...

Hey girl,
Thanks for keeping us abreast of your daughters first year. I am praying for her and you. Not easy to let go. She will do fabulous! xo,Gina

Lucia said...

my daughter (grade 7) has a cell she won't answer when I call, I have to text to get a response. Frustrating!

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