Teens & Toys

My friend Juliette calls us the  ‘Little House on the Prairie’ home.  I don’t think we are all that out there but I do realize most of our friends don’t have ‘butcher day’ at their house.  On the other side of the pendulum we (Mike and Pistol) love technology.  My Dad got Pistol started with her first desktop computer at the age of 2.  Yes, she had a nicer computer than me.  They both love to figure stuff out in their own ways on the computer while Dumpling and I put in our IT requests of what we would like. “More music on my iTunes, please.”

The girls are both 13yrs old now.  Gone to the wasteside (Editors note from Mike:  unintentional Mollyism) are dolls, scooters, bouncy balls and dress up (unless we are talking the occasional fashion show in my clothes!).  Nowadays they want clothing and technology.  They have whittled their desires down to the essentials.  For two years both girls got the newest iPod nanos (they were gifts).  Last year they both wanted iTouches.  I’m the parent who says, ‘Why do you need that?’  Mike, on the other hand, is a technology enabler.  I’m outnumbered.  What they ended up doing this time was rather clever.  With the help of Mike (I’m yelling in the background, ’11 and 12 year old children don’t need iTouches!’) (Editors note from Mike: No she wasn’t, she was squealing with 8 other ladies in the living room because she was hosting “trashy book club” night.) they sold their iPods online and then bought refurbished iTouches, again, online.  They used some of their savings to make up the difference between their sales revenue and the cost of the iTouches.

This year Pistol decided she wanted a new cell phone with a ‘better’ service.  What both the girls have is a pre-paid plan that costs $16/month for each.  If they run out of minutes they either don’t use their phone or they use their own money to add minutes.  Pistol decided pre-paid plans were for the poor.  She’s got definite ideas of where she wants her image to blossom to and I see power suits in her future.  She found a plan with Virgin Mobile that included 350 minutes and unlimited text and data for $37/month.  The phone she wanted cost $260.  Mike told her she would have to come up with the money for the phone as well as one years worth of supplementing the extra cost of the phone service.  She’d have to come up with $392 in all before we would allow her to switch phone plans.  Mike is so great at clicking into the intricities of Pistol.  He figures if she wants something he’s got to define the goal and she will bite into it like a pitbull with a big pink ribbon around its neck.

The first thing Pistol did was to have her current phone service discontinued.  She asked for that money ($16 a month) to go into the ‘pot’.  She had no phone from August- November.  Next she asked in lieu of birthday and Christmas presents that family members contribute to her fund.  Before Christmas she had her new fancy phone and upgraded service in her hot little hands.  The downside for Dumpling and I is that our less than luster phones seem well….less than!  Oh, the pity party is only for a moment!

I realize my kids have different challenges with money than I did when I was a kid.  When I was their age I owned Barbies (yes, my sister and I were obsessed until we were 12).  Barbies cost $8.95 in 1978.  I don’t buy the myth that it’s has to be expensive to be a kid, but it’s certainly a trend.  I think the best tool we can teach our girls is how to appreciate old, used and refurbished technology.  It’s like a car, last year’s model is much cheaper and it still gets you there.  I’m not insisting my kids go to school in a covered wagon.  I’d rather teach them ways to move through a world full of challenges.   I want them to recognize that the media is doing their damnedest to brainwash them into a very expensive existence.  I don’t think cloistering them away will give them the tools they need when they go out into the real world.  Although the Amish may be on to something!

Pistol:  You can drive your covered wagon all you want mom.  Just get out of the way of my Escalade!

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