Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

iPod Arguments

My kids bickered all weekend about electronics—specifically about whether Ty is worthy of receiving an iPod touch for his upcoming birthday in November (birthday wishes start early in our house). Yesterday, I was so fed up, I took him to a movie for some forced separation while Leah stayed home with Dad. How did we get here, I asked myself?

A couple years ago, we—I, rather—promised Ty an iPod for his eleventh birthday, back in the day before we knew what iPod touches were (had they even been invented yet?). We had given Leah a nano for her eleventh birthday and it only seemed fair to give Ty the same.

But now that Leah owns a touch—a refurbished first generation gadget that she bought off the Internet with her own money—and Ty’s friends own touches and play games incessantly, Ty has decided the lowly nano is not worth his time. He’s told us straight out if we give him one, he will return it and contribute his own money to upgrade to a touch.

This weekend, while Leah was upgrading her cell phone (on her own dime), she mooned over the latest touches at Best Buy. Then she came up with the bright idea that she would deed her touch, which works just fine, to Ty and we would give her a new, fourth generation touch for Christmas, because she is older and more responsible and more deserving.

Ty was open to the idea at first when Leah proposed it on Saturday, much to her acquisitive delight, but by the next day, he’d realized she was using him to get herself a new touch, while he, whose birthday is looming, would wind up with a second-hand, old touch that doesn’t have the speakers Leah so badly wants. And now so does he.

They argued. Even as we explained that no one was guaranteed a touch.

As the parent of a teen and tween, I yearn for the electronic world to slow down. The ever-evolving smartEverythings drive me bonkers because they’ve got my kids in perpetual I-need mode. Never mind that their parents are frugal beyond reason, modeling living within one’s means every day (are we setting them up to rebel by going into credit card debt by age 20, I wonder?).

Case in point: I am still using the same cell phone I bought three years ago, to Leah’s horrified amazement, because, guess what?, it still works and why should I upgrade just to upgrade, even if it’s for free? Honestly, how many discarded cell phones does the world need, and who cares whether you can go online while out on a run? (I have this feeling I’m in a minority of about ten.)

In the midst of our culture’s (at least on the West coast) eco/recycle/buy local/eat local/eat at home/staycation kind of sensibilities, our electronics industry is operating on a different model, and it has created a frenzy with our kids. All that money saved on hotels? Gone, I suspect, on games and gadgets. (If I read “there’s an app for that” one more time…)

This NYT article, “If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online,” paints a dismal picture of the invisible time spent on electronics, mostly online, and the difficulty regulating it as kids get older and more independent. It doesn’t address the wish-frenzy syndrome, but certainly that is part of the picture, as most parents of older kids have experienced. But perhaps most pertinent, the article shows me our wired future. I can’t get my head around it.

We don’t know how the birthday iPod is going to resolve itself yet, but we’ve declared a moratorium on the topic. And I’m trying not to feel like a 20th-century Luddite when I tell Ty to close out of Green Day’s You Tube videos and put on a, gasp!, CD of theirs instead.

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Tween Buying Power

Last night, Ty told us at dinner he was absolutely desperate to buy a certain video game—the name of it escapes me now, or perhaps he never told us. It was the need that was the focus of the conversation, not the actual product.

Today, I haven’t heard a word about it. It doesn’t mean he’s forgotten, but it might mean just that (one can hope). If he hasn’t forgotten, he’ll be ponying up his own allowance if he’s that desperate. A weekly allowance is how we’ve taken ourselves out of the can-I-have equation. But there are other ways.

I came across this article on tween buying power, How to Hype-Proof Your Tween by Jeffrey Kluger, and I was shocked to learn 20 million tweens spend $50 billion dollars a year. And that’s not their parents’ money. Holy cow. I thought the country was in an economic slump.

If your tweener is lobbying for the latest fashions (mine just started this year, and his fashion-conscious sister is fully supportive), or the latest techno gadget, or a new Wii game, Kluger has some suggestions. He offers up some websites to help kids learn about ad hype, and he also acknowledges that we parents are all prey to caving—yep. He also tells us why it’s good to say no. Worth the read, especially if you haven’t completed your school shopping yet.

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Diggin’ Digs

Have you been to Digs on the corner of Holly and Commercial? I went in there recently to buy an eco-travel mug—ceramic rather than metal and plastic—and fell in love with the children’s section. Only I don’t have really young children anymore so I’ll have to content myself with baby shower gifts.

I was impressed with the kids’ books they had, including a beautiful gardening-with-kids book, and the toys, and the bedding, and the glass baby bottles with silicone sleeves to prevent easy breakage. Glass bottles weren’t even on my radar when my kids were babies–in fact, I don’t think they existed 12 years ago–but if I had a baby now, I’d probably have her drinking from glass like in the old days. Most stuff, like I said, is for the younger set, but Leah does have her eye on the waste-free lunch box–the older kids’ version of avoiding plastic.

So, if you’re looking for something a little different, probably organic, and you haven’t been to Digs, I recommend checking it out.

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Halloween Germs

Yesterday, Ty came home from a Halloween trip to Value Village with his usual get-up. Every year since he was about three, he has opted for a scary mask—the scarier, the better—and some sort of robe. Very simple, really. This year he came home with a mask of a gorilla with pointed teeth and a women’s leather coat that covers him to his knees.

I love the mask. I told him I’d like to wear it next year.

“Do you want to try it on?” he asked.


And then I got this queasy feeling, much as I now get a queasy feeling at the thought of trying on hats in a store. Once you go through a lice outbreak in your house, you never look at hats the same way again (the lice thing was several years ago—we’re not live, don’t worry).

This time? Swine flu germs. Think about it. How many people do you think tried on that mask before my boy bought it, breathing their soggy germs all over the nose cavity? How many of the multitude of masks have been tried on by hundreds of people only to be put back on the rack?

I’m not normally a germ phobe—I’m the last person to ask my kids to wash up before dinner—but this year I often find myself making them wash their hands when they get home from school. So far we haven’t been hit with flu germs, but really it’s only a matter of time, I think, before we go down like dominoes.

Somehow Ty and I got distracted, and I didn’t have to try on the mask. I’m going to give it 72 hours. Do you think that’s long enough?

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This week we have entered the new world of makeup, courtesy of a friend of Leah’s who recently got the parental green light. Leah wanted to follow through that green light, and since we don’t have any age rules for anything in this house (okay, well, I guess driving, drinking, graduating high school…), I said, Okay, I’ll take you, but you have to use your own money.

Not until we were standing in the makeup aisle with all those colors in front of us did I realize how much I cared. That she not wear it. I really cared.

I am not a makeup person, as anyone who knows me can attest. It’s not that I object to it on any philosophical level, per se; mostly that I just can’t be bothered and the mascara only comes out for special occasions like weddings. About every two years.

So, but anyway, in high school I did consciously choose not to wear it except for prom, because I decided I didn’t want to be one of those people who couldn’t leave the house without makeup (you know those people who look so different you can’t believe they’re the same person? And how can you go trekking in Nepal if you can’t handle no makeup?).

Mainly, though, young girls’ skin is just so pretty, and I don’t want Leah covering up her already pink cheeks with blush or anything else. I told her that. I told her her skin was too beautiful to cover up. She settled on mascara, eye shadow, and blush (anyway) and I let her buy it and that afternoon she experimented, arriving in the kitchen periodically. 

“What do you think, Mom? I mixed the eye shadow shades and put the darker shade at the edge of my eye. It’s supposed to make your eyes look bigger.”

Well, I had to admit, she had done a nice job, so nice I could barely see the changes, which is exactly what I prefer.

“It looks good, Leah.” Hmm, maybe I can learn a few tricks here. “But you know, you don’t have to wear this stuff every day or anything.”

“I know.”

She floated around for the rest of the day, utterly content with her new purchases and new freedom.

If she’s wearing it, I can’t tell. I haven’t checked that closely, but I’m guessing the novelty has already worn off. Or not. Maybe she’ll start using it in earnest when school starts. One thing for sure, if I’d said no, we would be talking about it every day, and this way, she gets to decide whether it’s important to her. I guess a little makeup never hurt anyone. I’ll save the no’s for the bigger issues.


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