Great Parenting Moments: Teen Loses Cell Phone

The Scenario: Teen Loses Cell Phone

Eleven year old Rowan would lose her head if it weren’t attached. She has had a rough time transitioning to Middle School. She’s a bright girl who is outgoing and well-balanced. The teachers demand a lot more responsibility and organization in Middle School. Just when I think we are making progress, she loses her cell phone. My inclination was to not replace the phone. “That’s what happens when you don’t keep track of your stuff, sweetie. No texting. No nothing.” Not replacing the phone wasn’t an option because we don’t have a land line and I want her to have it when she walks by herself.

The Consequence of Teen Loses Cell Phone

I racked my brain about how to drive home the life lesson of keeping up with your shit. In the process, I think I may have happened upon the most awesome discipline parenting coup of ALL TIME.The replacement phone arrived in the mail today. The phone required authentication with AT&T before it would function. This is where it gets brilliant. I made Rowan call AT&T to activate the phone.”It’s part of the deal, babe. You have to do this yourself.”

It was more exquisite torture than I could have ever hoped for. Within minutes she was thrashing around the kitchen while on the phone with someone she couldn’t understand asking questions she couldn’t answer about a product with which she was not familiar. Nothing says Welcome To Being An Adult quite like talking with a completely unintelligible call center worker half way around the world for whom English is a second language. Rowan begged me to take the call but I refused. At one point she set the phone down and ran out of the room in despair. Fucking payback.

“Please! Please talk to this person! I can’t understand them! I don’t know what he means.” I know. It’s super frustrating and makes you want to poke your eyes out with sticks. I understand your anxiety, baby.

“I’m on hold. AGAIN.” Big suck, huh?

“And this music they are playing, what IS IT?” It’s part of the torture, baby. Think of it as sprinkles on your mud cupcake.

“I have to go to piano and I can’t stay on the phone! I thought it would only take a few minutes and I’ve been on for 20!” Sweetheart, you are going to have to hang up and start this process from scratch when you have unlimited time.

“You mean all this time I’ve been talking to this guy…” Yep. Completely worthless and accomplished nothing. Twenty minutes of your life you will never get back.

I am going to save all my dreaded calls to customer service departments for when Ro needs a super awesome consequence. I’ll never have to waste ninety minutes of my life talking to the IT division of my bank to figure out why my overdraft protection won’t link to my savings account. Just wait for Rowan to leave her bike at her friend’s house where it gets stolen. “No! Anything but that! Please don’t make me talk to customer service! Uncle! I cry uncle!”


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  1. Anonymous

    This is good news. Has traces of Nora Ephron, who I miss so dearly, or Peg Bracken or Erma Bombeck. Keep writing and keep it coming. Friend of Trisha’s = L

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