By Melanie J. Knox, Opinion Editor
As I Wish
How old were you when you got your first cellular phone? My dad bought mine when we moved in for Welcome Week.
I’d never needed or thought about having one before that.
Wherever I went, there were phones: houses, the mall and school.
For the past three summers, I’ve been a counselor at camps and worked with girls from 12-18 years of age, and cell phones are not allowed.
We usually have problems with high school girls having their cell phones attached to their ears, but this year for the first time, I found myself wrenching cute, flowered and pink phones from even my littlest girls.
“But we need those!” they protested. “Our moms gave them to us!”
The Dallas Morning News reported last week on moms who see buying their children cell phones as an integral part of back-to-school shopping. One mother compared the necessity of cell phones to car seats and seatbelts. All of her four children, the youngest in third grade, carry cell phones with them everywhere. This was attributed to security and safety reasons. The child needs to call home.
I found this baffling. Where is a third-grader going that the mother could not get in touch with her? School? A friend’s house? Hanging out with the other 8-year-olds at the movies … alone?
It makes me wonder what’s happening to parenting. My mother knew the phone numbers and addresses of all the places I would be in third grade, probably because she dropped me off wherever I was going, maybe a birthday party at Skate-a-rama.
In high school, sometimes I would forget to call home, and my dad would cruise the dark streets of Corsicana, trying to find me and make sure I was all right. This wasn’t because I didn’t have access to a phone to call my parents; I was irresponsible. Yes, 16 years old and irresponsible, but certainly more responsible than an 8-year-old.
At camp, the lost and found table is usually stacked high because kids forget to grab their Bibles, wallets or even shoes. I wonder if that cell phone plan comes with a free replacement when that 8-year-old girl leaves her cell phone by the jungle gym and never sees it again.
But maybe I’m just getting old, not moving with the times, not understanding today’s generation. If that’s the case, then just toss me a cane and pass me the prune juice because I think I’m in this mindset to stay.
And my third graders will be the only deprived children on the block who actually have to come home to ask if they can play at Jimmy’s house.