Monday, July 27, 2009

Coming of age - 21st century style

Decisions have never been my strong suit. I can decide things like “Where should we go for dinner?” or “Does this look okay with that?” but when it comes to making serious decisions – ones that involve money or are potentially life-altering – I need a lot of time and a lot of information.

You can imagine, then, my dilemma as my elder daughter’s 14th birthday approached, and the one gift that came up over and over was…you guessed it, a cell phone.

For the past year or so, both my daughters have bombarded me with an endless litany of which friends had acquired a phone, why their lives would be greatly enriched by joining this coveted group, and how could I possibly continue to stunt their social development by denying them this valuable technology.

The arguments fell on only partially deaf ears. I have never been one to buy into the “Everyone’s doing it” philosophy, but as both girls have become increasingly involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities, maintaining consistent communications has been a problem. Practices are changed, games get rained out, I run late – all these become issues when there’s not an easy way to share the information. About 6 months ago, I told both girls that I was thinking about the cell phone idea, but they’d have to prove to me that they were mature enough to handle the additional responsibility. My older daughter rose to the challenge, setting her sights on a cell phone for her birthday.

Of course, once I’d laid the foundation, I needed to follow through, which meant making a BIG decision…or a several small ones, as it turned out. Contract or pay-as-you-go? Verizon? Sprint? Cricket? A few I’d never heard of? Camera or no? Texting or no? I went into information overload more than once as July 25 loomed closer. The biggest question of all was, were we ready this?

I discovered it wasn’t the cell phone decisions throwing me for a loop, it was the idea that the sweet 6-year-old that I brought home nearly 8 years ago is growing up…too fast. (Both my daughters were adopted at age 6.) Gone are the days of Barbie, Legos and Magic School Bus videos. Now it’s computers, cell phones, and the Jonas Brothers. Boys are more than just baseball teammates. As a single mom working two jobs, this prospect is a bit scary.

I was thrown a lifeline of sorts last month when I came to work at the library. We’ve had cards for some time, but now that it’s my second job, my girls have been spending a lot more time here. While I head to the third floor, they remain in the Teen Zone; reading books, hopping on one of the teen computers or usually a combination of both. They love it. Once school starts, the library will be an excellent place for them to do their homework – quiet but with access to computers for research.

In the end, I can’t do anything about my daughters growing up. Like it or not, it’s happening. One thing I can control is the atmosphere in which they grow up, and KPL has become an important part of that. If you’re a parent, check out all that KPL has to offer your child. You’ll be glad you did.

By the way, I FINALLY decided on a cell phone and plan the day before her birthday. Now I can relax until October. That’s when her sister turns 14.

Teresa Cline
Adult Services


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