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.
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?