Yes, we tried to buy my ten-year-old an iPhone.
Usher in the internet army of professional parents ready to immediately pass judgement about such a decision.
“A TEN YEAR OLD? WITH AN IPHONE?! YOU MAY AS WELL SIGN HIM UP FOR REHAB NOW!”
“MY KID CAN HAVE AN IPHONE WHEN SHE HAS A JOB AND CAN AFFORD TO PAY THE BILL HERSELF! I DON’T CARE HOW SHE GETS THE MONEY JUST KNOW SHE’S NOT FREELOADING OFF OF ME! RESPONSIBILITY!”
“ONLY DRUG DEALERS NEED A CELL PHONE BEFORE HIGH SCHOOL!”
Put your pitchforks away and know that we’ve heard all of the criticisms and reasons that no one should ever buy a ten year old their very own smartphone.
First of all, we don’t care what people think. The decision to make a purchase like this is highly personal and has a million different variables that factor in. There’s no one-size-fits-all rule for when is the right time to take the plunge on something like this. I’m not going to go into the specifics tonight but please know we made a very well-informed and right-for-our-family decision to get Brady the iPhone.
Second of all, Brady asked us to return the iPhone so it didn’t end up mattering anyway.
You see, Brady is a very special kid. I have peers in their forties who don’t have the emotional maturity or self-awareness that he does at ten years old. And I know that every parent loves to brag about their kid, but think for a minute about that kid from Pay It Forward who had a terrible mother and home life and still ended up making a positive impact on the world. Now imagine that kid became an actual saint and then you’d be on Brady’s level.
I know parents whose kids are begging them for an iPhone. And not just any iPhone. They want the one that costs the same as a semester of community college. It’s not good enough to have the refurbished iPhone SE. At eleven years old they want the the 9000 Megawatt edition with a bedazzled jewel case.
That’s not Brady’s style at all so tonight we broke the news.
Us: “Hey Buddy, we decided we want to get you a new phone.”
We proceeded to explain the expectations attached with the phone and why we decided now would be a good time.
Us (overly excited and patting ourselves on the back, or at least I was): Yeah it’s a new iPhone and you’ll be able to text us and call us and share your location. Kind of like an iPod but with all the real calling stuff. You’ll have your own phone number!
This is the point in the conversation where we expected the heavens to open and for confetti to fall from the ceiling. Brady would literally hover several inches off the floor and sing our praises as the best parents ever.
But instead he paused and he got a pensive look on his face.
Brady: Did you buy the phone already?
Us: (THIS IS NOT GOING THE WAY WE PLANNED). Yeah buddy, we ordered it today. Is something wrong?
Brady: Well, I don’t think I’m ready for an iPhone yet. It’s a lot of responsibility. I don’t really want to be out with my friends and get tempted by all the distractions it has. And I could lose it or break it when I’m out playing. Also, I don’t want my friends to feel bad if I have one and they don’t.
Us: *blinking furiously* Well, I mean… yeah, sure. We can… we’ll cancel the order right now if you really want us to.
Brady: Yeah, I think having a phone is a good idea for all the reasons you said but maybe just a simple flip phone would be good to start?
Us: … … … … … … … …
Brady: I mean, if that’s ok.
Us: OF COURSE IT’S OK WE JUST WEREN’T PREPARED FOR RAISING THE NEXT GHANDI!
My biggest takeaway here is that when it ultimately came down to it, I was advocating without even taking into consideration what Brady wanted. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I should ask Brady about the purchase, because I didn’t believe in a million years he could have responded any way other than being completely ecstatic.
But a one-in-a-million kid is gonna create some one-in-a-million responses.