7.31.2018

My Teenager Does Not Have a Phone and He Got Lost

I recently had an experience that spoke nicely to the decision to NOT provide our child with a cell phone.  
I dropped off my 14 year-old to meet family friends beach on the Fourth of July. 
Due to traffic and impossible parking, I couldn't actually get him to the specific location of our friends so I was forced to drop him off a couple blocks away (don’t panic, remember he’s 14 years old).  
After I dropped him off, my plan was to come home and do some chores and then re-join this group of people. But after a bit I became worried that perhaps he didn’t find our friends. So I called my girlfriend, who didn't pick up until my third try: "Susan, hey did my son find you guys?" "No. Sorry. I will look for him."  
So mild anxiousness set in, butterflies in the tummy, but I soothed myself with this, "this is a nice beach, lots of family families out there today, close to our home… "
A long 45 minutes went by, until my phone finally rings: "Hi mom, I can’t find anybody. Do you know exactly where they are?"
 My heart momentarily collapses because now I am aware that he’s been looking for them for 45 minutes on a very crowded holiday beach day. I directed him to the exact location of our waiting friends, then more importantly, I say to him, "Who’s phone are you using to call me?" 
Now, all Moms know that we train our children to find another looks-like-a-sweet-mommy with children (as society has deemed these are the safest people walking the planet and the least likely to steal a child).
Yet, after years of this specific indoctrination, who does he ask to borrow a phone to make a quick phone call? "I found a young guy. He was smiling and maybe with his girlfriend, so I thought he would let me use his phone." 
And of course, he did. 
That learning opportunity is absent, while not ideal from the Mom perspective, when a child doesn't have to fumble about, get a little lost, walk up to a total stranger, assert his needs, and then navigate to his destination, but instead grabs his own cell phone and calls mom, "Help!"
Those mini-moments towards adulthood are full of growing opportunities - for all of us