October 3, 2003 spout

My 9-Year Old Has a Cell Phone

Friday, October 3, 2003

Tonight is Friday night, which means the Sells family generally has pizza and a movie at home. However, since we’ve been through most of Blockbuster’s catalog and the boys aren’t quite old enough for most of my DVD collection (9 is a tad young for things like Fight Club…), we thought we’d take in the new Jack Black movie School of Rock. Kids-in-Mind.com gives it a 3.3.3, heavy on the poop jokes (which my sons like) and heavy on the irreverence (which I like), so it seemed like a winner. However, as most movies start between 7-7:30pm and I just noticed it was 6:30p but Melissa wasn’t home with the boys, I started the calling. First was her cell, but I remember her telling me it was out of batteries. Then it was her sister’s house, where she had been, but she had left for a friend’s. Then the friend, but no answer. And then I remembered my son and his cell phone.

My son is 9 years old. He’s been into computers and gadgets of all kinds since before he was 3. A few months ago, he was digging around and found my old Nokia cell phone. It had some cool games, so he charged it up and started carrying it around with him. Then, he wanted minutes so he could make his own calls. So we finally found our way to the local AT&T wireless place (which wasn’t really very local at all) and he spent his allowance money on pre-paid minutes ($10 for 20 minutes). After less than a week, he was down to 8 minutes left. He’s most just calling his friends from our car (where I have my cell in my pocket w/o unlimited monthly minutes) or from our house (where we don’t have long distance, but we do still have a land line), but it’s his phone and his money and it gives him pleasure.

It did, however, freak my wife out. A 9-year old doesn’t need a cell phone!” she’d say. I’d explain that it was his own money. A 9-year old doesn’t need a cell phone! Drug dealers have cell phones!” She and I both have our own cell phones and besides the occasional glass of wine, we don’t even *use* drugs, let alone *sell* them. And while no amount of reasoning with her stopped her from being upset, she didn’t say he couldn’t have a cell phone, so now he does. That he keeps charged. And that he carries. And that he spends his own money on minutes for. And that I just called because he was with his mother:

“Hello?” said my 9-year-old son on his very own cell phone, surprised but pleased to get a call.

Can I talk to your mother?”


“Hello. Sorry. My cell phone ran out of batteries,” she said.

Aren’t you glad that John has a cell phone?” I asked, not bothering to keep the smug out of my voice.

Hmphf,” she said, not bothering to keep the annoyed out of hers.

I think I may pay for his next batch of minutes just so I can keep calling her on his phone. : )