We got Miss 11 her first mobile phone a few days before she started intermediate school this year. It was the cheapest, most basic phone on offer at the store – it cost $25 and is only good for texting and calling, which is all she needs it for. In fact, it’s so basic that neither my husband nor I could figure out how to text with it (the numberpad has letters on it – how did we ever cope without touch screen keyboards?) and we felt pretty tech-silly rather than tech-savvy when Miss 11 figured it out almost immediately.
We worked out how to programme our mobile numbers into her phone, and gave her a talking-to about what usage is acceptable and what is not. But she’s not all that into it, to be honest. She forgets to charge it, and she hardly texts us at all.
Every morning when my daughter boards the bus to school, she texts, “On the bus.” And every afternoon when she boards the bus home, she texts, “On the bus.” That’s about it. Sometimes I text to ask if she has her PE gear, or if she remembered her water bottle, and I get back, “Yes”. Sometimes I text to tell her to remember that she has tutoring after school, and she replies, “Okay.” Sometimes I text her bad jokes, and I receive a simple, “Ha!” For Miss 11, brevity is the soul of wit, it would appear.
I took a look at her messages last night, because I’m the mum and that’s part of the deal – I get to see what she’s texting and to whom. They’re all short and sweet. She’s got the numbers of three of her friends, and all they seem to text each other about is school work and saving one another seats on the bus.
I know this will change at some point, and will necessitate a whole different conversation, but for now I am enjoying the innocence of it all. Miss 11 and her friends are into books, and art, and music, and telling jokes, and having play dates. Yes, they still call them “play dates” without a breath of embarrassment.
It’s a time of transition, the bittersweet years between childhood and teenagerhood – and I know I don’t have much time left with my little girl who is no longer little, but is growing so tall so fast I can’t keep her in pants that are long enough. But as long as she keeps communicating with me – even if it’s just in the form of those one-word texts – I have hope we can stay connected as she becomes more mobile, more independent, more authentic, more herself.
What I’m reading this week: This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel (Hachette $34.99)
Rosie and Penn have five sons – but their youngest son, Claude, one day tells them he’s actually Poppy, a vibrant, popular, delightful little girl whom her parents love no matter what, and want only happiness for. When problems begin for Poppy at school and in the community, the family decide to move away and start fresh – and this means keeping Poppy’s secret until the time is right to reveal it, which never seems to come… Until one day, the secret is unexpectedly revealed, and their happy family falls apart. Finding their way back together is at the heart of this book, and of our society as a whole – learning to respect and celebrate authenticity in every form it takes, and exploring how we define ourselves and each other. This book challenged my thinking in so many ways, and made me reflect on how I as a parent would handle it if one of my children is transgender. Rosie and Penn each have different ways of coping, and Poppy’s four older brothers also have to come to an understanding and acceptance of their sibling’s uniqueness. This is a beautiful and well-told novel with a message of resilience and joy.