Don’t let the title throw you. When I say, “the three of us,” I’m not referring to my wife, daughter, and me. Jessie, her dog, and me? No, that’s not it either. Let me give you a clue. One of the three is not a living thing, though if Jessie is ever without it, you might guess otherwise. I bet you know now. That’s right – Jessie, me, and her phone.
Though many of Jessie’s friends had cell phones in earlier grades, my wife, Mattie, and I didn’t see the need. It’s not that Jessie didn’t give Mattie and me her best sales pitch – on multiple occasions. Besides the additional expense of a phone, Mattie and I didn’t see the rush for Jessie to have this electronic extension of her hand.
A few days into her sixth-grade school year, though, Jessie informed Mattie and me that she needed a phone for her schoolwork. I’ll let Jessie provide you with her reasons because, to be honest, I don’t remember them all. She did say she needed to take photos of the homework assignments written on the board.
When I was in school, it worked fine to scribble my assignment or whatever information I needed from the blackboard onto a piece of notebook paper. Who knows, maybe my grades would have been better if only I could have taken pictures instead? The focus of this column, though, is not the numerous ways that Jessie uses her phone, but how “we can’t leave home without it.”
Jessie, I’ll turn it over to you now. Are you glad Mom and I gave you a phone for 6th grade? Yes, I realize it was Mom’s hand-me-down, but based on my view, you seem to be happy with it.
Jessie, Age 13
Having a phone is very important. As you develop more freedoms, such as going places by yourself, or even getting separated from your parents in a store, it is important to be able to call to locate them. Also, the tween years are when you start figuring out who you are and making more friends.
It is good to be able to text your friends, so you can talk to them outside of school. Your phone can also be very useful in school. At my school, you’re expected to be able to take a picture of the homework, because if you must write it in a planner, you will be late for your next class. We can also access the references for our classes, do quizzes, and check our grades, all from our phones. In addition, we can contact our teachers and classmates and see what assignments we’re missing.
Overall, as you approach your teenage years, you will begin to have uses for a phone … and there’s nothing phony about it.
Okay, so Dad has adjusted to our three-cell-phone family. Jessie, I’m proud of you for using your phone responsibly and know you’ll continue to do so.
But whether Jessie’s phone use is minimal or a bit too much, one thing is certain ’tween daughter and dad, I love my girl and my girl loves me.
This daddy-daughter column began when Jessie was 9 as she and I shared our views on various topics during her tween years. She’s now a teenager, and it’s a good time to end our co-authored monthly columns. Thank you to the publishers and editors who shared our stories and to all our readers. I hope we conveyed that when fathers (and mothers) have different perspectives from their tweens, love helps us reach understandings. We won’t always see eye-to-eye, but we can always listen and love one another no matter what.
As Jessie, her smartphone, and I journey through her teenage years, I want to close with an important message: It’s always okay to call Dad, no matter what time it is or where you are. Dad is always here for you and will be glad you called. Call for help through rough situations, even when they are of your own making and it’s not your finest hour. Dad will love you unconditionally. Call when you have something wonderful to celebrate. It doesn’t matter how big or how small, Dad will be thrilled to share your joy. Call to say I love you or for no reason at all.
I can’t think of a better way for Jessie to use her phone. Parents have an important job that never ends.
Remember to cherish the moments. Happy Father’s Day!