Monday, May 23, 2011

The Great Email Debate.

He stood in front of me with his hands on his hips, and asked me again. "Why? Why? Can't I? Huh? Why?"

My answer was simple and firm. "Because. I just don't think it's necessary."

"WHAT. EVER. Mom. I'm not a baby. You hafta give me a reason."

"I never said you are a baby. But I just don't think you're ready for your own email account. That's my reason."

"But I'm 10 and a half!!!"

Oh. Ten. And a half. The age of sophistication. I remember it well.

"Sweetie, I know. I get it. You're a big dude. But there is really no reason for you to have one."

"Is too! I want to talk to my friends!"

"But you talk to your friends at school. In the summer, you will see them at baseball, or we can have them over to play. Besides, what do you need to say to them in an email that you can't say to their face?"

This boy, this oldest child of mine, just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Dunno."

And with that we were at an impasse.

As our oldest child, he has the privilege of leading us to these moments and decisions and roadblocks first. We learn together. Until this moment, I hadn't thought of what age would be appropriate for an email address.

I just know that it is not ten. And a half. 

Our parents never had this problem.

At ten-and-a-half, he is learning who he is outside of us. Outside of this family unit. He pulls away and unravels from us like a spool of thread, but fortunately always rolls himself right back into our protective fold. He wants to be independent but he doesn't.

It is the yin and the yang of childhood.

Is it cliche of me to say that kids grow up way too fast these days?

Because they do.

Sometimes I feel like childhood has become a bullet train hurtling towards adulthood.

Is it selfish of me to want to slow it down?

It's not that I want to keep them little. I just want to keep them innocent.

We monitor what television shows our children watch, what video games they play, and who they are friends with. Add to the list the dashing of our son's hopes of an email account.

For now.

Because it's just not necessary. He can communicate with his buds the old-fashioned way.

He is a good boy, and as trustworthy as the day is long.

But he is ten. And a half. And I am just not ready to open that door to emailing, texting, and digital communication. I know what is right for my child, just as you know what is right for yours.

I'm perfectly happy with being the bad guy in these moments.

Maybe I'll rethink this when he is eleven. And a half. But for now, I am not budging.

I can't help but think that over the next decade, Bill and I will laugh that we even thought that this was a big deal. Once I have to deal with the angst of a teenager, I will welcome these kinds of problems. I will beg for this problem back.

Friends, what do you think? What is the right age for an email account?

6 comments:

  1. Clare,
    Our kids we're older when computers/e-mail became popular so it wasn't really an issue for my kids.

    My daughter didn't let our oldest grandson get his e-mail and cell phone until 13 and it is monitored very closely- subject to removal without discussion.

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  2. Stick to your guns! Anytime your gut says no...trust it! I always felt better being over protective than under protective. You can always say, "I'm sorry, but I just love you too much!" That's hard to argue with:)

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  3. I've been being the same mean mom on the subject of cell phones...my oldest...or test child as I like to refer her as...is begging for a cell phone...yep, there are third graders at her school with cell phones...my response to her is that when I think she is ready with a valid purpose to have one, then she will, and not a second sooner...now is not the time...I don't know when the time will come.

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  4. The government is on your side until he is 13: http://business.ftc.gov/privacy-and-security/children’s-online-privacy

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  5. Would you believe that I let The Twins have an account? They use it mostly to communicate with family in England. And all email sent to them comes to me as well. So far, so good.

    Now, cell phones? Over. My. Dead. Body.

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  6. Sweet-I'm not the only 'mean' mom around here. Is 21 too long to wait? Seriously. Next it will be a FB account. Ugh. My problem with it is they never figure out how to communicate. They will just grow up and grunt at their family with there arthritic blackberry thumb.

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