Friday, August 3, 2007

What? You only had three TV channels?

My daughter-who is 7-has been begging me for a cell phone. Apparently, all of her friends have cell phones. I would like to know who they are calling during the day when they are at school and/or camp-but that is a different story.

I have repeatedly told my daughter that I will not consider a cell phone for her until she is older/and or is going places on her own-for safety. Of course, this doesn't stop the crying about why she is the only one without a cell phone-she is also the only one without an in-ground pool and a pony, too, so the cell phone crisis is more acute because it seems so available.

But, that is not the story. As she was begging, she asked me when my mother had gotten me my first cell phone. I then clued her in to life in the Dark Ages, before cell phones, computers, 1000 TV channels, video games and other 'must haves' for today's kids.

She was shocked. She wanted to know how we spent out time-and what we did to keep boredom at bay.

But she was really concerned about the insurmountable dilemnas associated with not having a cell phone would cause. "How," she cried, "could you text message?"

I couldn't help but laugh. First, I have never sent a text message. Secondly, she was just devastated by the idea that the world once existed without this kind of technology.

I relate this story for two reasons-it is truly entertaining. More importantly, it showed me just how much my daughter wants to fit in with her friends.

By and large, her friends come from wealthy families and want for nothing (except, perhaps their parent's attention) and she wants what they want-without having to give up the time she spends with me).

She is also acutely aware that she is one of the only-Asians, adoptee, single parent family with a working mom.

The inability to have a cell phone just hits a little too close to home. Of course, I could get her a cell phone, but that would only put a band-aid on the real issue-her self-esteem. My job as I see it is two-fold. One is to make myself obsolete-independence is a wonderful gift for children. The second is to do what I can to help her navigate her place in the world. A world in which she can be considered different on several fronts.

To combat this, we work hard to accept and respect other cultures, races, choices and traditions. We actively seek out friends of all shapes, sizes, and colors. We talk about judging people by the way they look or talk-or anything else that makes them different than we are. It is a conscious effort-and it does take work, because for me, it meant that I had to put aside my biases and re-focus my view of the world.

Kids will not make the judgements of "good" or "bad" until we tell them what good or bad is. Young kids, in particular, are incredibly accepting. We are trying to expose ourselves to all different kinds of people (some even without cell phones).

My daughter is being raised to believe that different is just different not better or worse.

How are your kids being raised?

With respect,

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