It’s been some time since my last post, but it has been a hectic time. Both Cricket and Grasshopper participated in the fall soccer program, which entails 3 days a week of games and practices for 2 hours each day for the duration of 6 weeks. That means that CAT was busy coaching and I was busy being the administrator.
We also celebrated a very important birthday in the midst of soccer. Grasshopper is officially a teenager.
We also adopted a new dog, Sophie. She is just over 2 years old and needed a lot of attention–training, spaying (no puppies in this house!), general vetting, flea removal, and just flat out TLC to help her adjust. I am definitely her person.
Immediately after soccer season, CAT and I began an alternating travel schedule. I traveled for a week. The following week, CAT was gone for part of the week. Then we were both gone for the majority of the week after. And the last week of October our little town held its annual Halloween festival, complete with rides, carnival food, and parades. So we were just flat out busy with family time.
I’ve since traveled again for work, and hunting season began, taking us to Texas and Western Kansas to fill our freezer for the year. It also means training dogs to track deer.
That time was not without education, for me. Let’s start with the fact that I work in technology. On one of my journeys, I had the pleasure of spending my lunch with one of our clients, also a parent, named Tim. We avoided the topic of the conference because we were pretty spent on that topic. Instead, we ended up talking about our kids.
During the conversation, Tim labeled himself as a “Yes parent” (YP) and me as a “No parent” (NP) in regard to electronics. As a YP, Tim’s 12-year-old had her own tablet, laptop, and smartphone. She had constant access to information and electronic entertainment. She struggled in school and he struggled with the electronics. She was sending text messages at dinner and was on the phone after bedtime. Even grounding her from the phone was impossible because he had come to rely on it to communicate with her.
As NPs, our children have no cell phones. They share a tablet that belongs to the family. We have a desktop computer that is older, that they share. We have a Wii, but the games are sports and trivia games that require them to move around or think. The Wii is connected to our only television.
We do have DISH, but a package just big enough to get ESPN to watch March Madness and the World Cup (priorities). Anything not rated PG or below is locked and requires a password, which means that the show must be Mouse-approved. Their time on electronics is earned by having good grades, doing chores, and following the rules. They only get 30 minutes a day during the week and must choose what device is most important to them that day. On weekends they may watch morning cartoons, but only until 9. If you sleep until 8:45, tough luck.
Our kids get toys at Christmas and birthdays that encourage outside play, like basketballs and a goal, soccer gear, tether ball, and croquet. They have basically unlimited access to books of all types. We buy books at auctions, and we frequent the local secondhand bookstore. They often get gift cards to bookstores as gifts, which they love.
The discussion with Tim was mostly a comparison. No one was deemed right or wrong. There was no “My parenting is better because…”, and no judgement. I expressed the challenges of being a NP in a world of YPs. The YPs are everywhere and always telling me why our kids should have phones and more electronics, and fewer chores and responsibilities. And their children tell our children how Mom cleans their bedroom and they don’t have chores; they just do whatever they want. That makes it hard to stand your ground.
By the end of the conversation, I was a little more pro-YP. I came home and upgraded the TV rating from Y-7 to PG. Our children still do not have cell phones, but there are times when we loan them one of ours if the situation warrants. CAT carries one for work and one personal, so we have a ‘spare’, especially if we are together. One of Tim’s parting comments was, “I need to be more of a NP. She needs more boundaries and less encouragement. Thank you!” I was pleased to hear that someone agreed with my parenting choices, because, aside from CAT, I generally hear that I’m wrong.
How on earth does this relate to rural versus urban? I’ve been excited to see that fewer children here have phones compared to our previous school. Even at the older ages, the kids are still without smartphones. This is mostly because we see more parents actually with their kids. Middle school parents actually come to soccer practice, and they stay. They take their kids to the grocery or farm supply store. Less kids need phones because their parents already know where they are, because they are together. Our kids are nearly always with us. If they aren’t with us, they are on the school bus or at school, or with a neighbor. They are not alone, wandering the streets.
YP or NP, or somewhere in between, what’s your preference?