Crackberries, Cellphones and Balance

My five year old recently mastered dialing my husband and my cell phones. Since then, she calls me when I'm on date-night with her father, when I'm at yoga class, when I'm in meetings, when she is upstairs and I am downstairs. A few weeks ago, during a rare dinner out alone, my husband and I got five calls from her in twelve minutes.

In an emergency, she could save her own life by making a phone call. Technology is wonderful. And sometimes it's not.

A year ago, my husband agreed to limit his Blackberry to the first floor of our house after I complained about how unsexy it was to wake up to the buzzing black rectangle on my pillow. We now answer our daughter's calls -- the first time. She has learned to leave wonderfully entertaining voice-mail messages. I struggle myself with being an e-mail addict; I just don't feel like myself without Internet access. Yet on our recent vacation to Italy, I spent a great week without it. And I've refused, so far, to get a Blackberry.

How about you? Do you answer your cell every time your children call? Does technology help you balance work and your life? Can you imagine your life without it? What is your Maginot Line against technology creep?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  September 14, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
Previous: Should Leave for Moms Equal Leave for Dads? | Next: Moms in a Positive Light


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



both boys have cell phones. They each use computers. There hasn't been technology creep at all really as we were tech people from day one. witness I'm on at 7:30am already

So there are no restrictions and it all works. When it comes down to it, everyone prefers to be outdoors anyways. tech works for us (in all ways of the word)

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 14, 2007 7:29 AM

First!

The strangest thing happened this morning. I went out to the Creepy Van and it did not seem it was where I parked it last night but it was in the carport. The driver's seat had been moved but I don't recall Frieda driving it last night. The gas gauge seemed to be in a different place and the mileage a bit higher. (but then when a van has 175,000 miles on it, what is the difference?)

Everything seemed in place but yet it did not seem to be in place. Weird huh?

Posted by: fred | September 14, 2007 7:30 AM

Dotted, I was suppose to be first!

write me at fred_and_frieda@hotmail.com

Posted by: fred | September 14, 2007 7:31 AM

I have a blackberry from work. I love it because I can sit on my sofa at home and answer emails at my leisure rather than having 10-15 to deal with at 6:45 am.
People are impressed I am working so late - haha.
They are also very handy during family illnesses to keep out of town people up to date with what is going on. It was invaluable when my mother had cancer surgery and I was the only one of three kids there.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | September 14, 2007 7:34 AM

Rats - forgot to move the seat back. Nice ride - thanks for the treat. BTW - Love the hula dancer.

Posted by: gutlesswonder3 | September 14, 2007 7:37 AM

gutlesswonder3

Huh? What are you talking about?

Posted by: fred | September 14, 2007 7:40 AM

If you can manage not to let it consume you, it is a wonderful gift. The blackberry and internet allow my husband to put in a full day, come home, have dinner with us and put the kids to bed and then do the work that he needs to get done in the evening. If we didn't have it, he would likely have to stay at the office and miss the family time we enjoy so much.

As an aside, my kids know how to dial the phone, but we do not allow them to just pick it up and dial whenever they like. I don't know anyone who lets their 5 year old use the phone at will. Who else are they calling besides you?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | September 14, 2007 7:43 AM

It was me - I am the one who drove the creepy van - haha. I thought it was my reward.

Posted by: gutlesswonder3 | September 14, 2007 7:45 AM

For home, we answer the cell phone when our daughters call. It is either a change of their plans out, or an emergency.

For work, no Blackberry.
Co-workers needs to respect limits on my availability. If I choose to answer some emails or calls, it will be after the family is in bed (I am an early riser), or during a pre-arranged time when I make myself available.

Posted by: chemguy1157 | September 14, 2007 7:51 AM

gc3,

Are you saying that you stole the Creepy Van and then realized what a piece of s*** it was and returned it? What do you mean reward?

Posted by: fred | September 14, 2007 7:55 AM

No kids, but my line in sand is answering any phone during dinner - a practice carried over from my childhood.

My blackberry practice -- when I had one -- was to read only in the evenings/early mornings but not respond. I liked knowing what was going on before I got to the office but did not want people to think I would respond 24/7.

~Product of a Working Mother

Posted by: tntkate | September 14, 2007 8:06 AM

The kids tend to go crazy when they learn how to use a new "toy". Odds are good that the 5-year old's calling will slow down or stop soon; the game will get old and she'll move to something new. The only calls you'll get will be either "tell him I get to watch my show; he has to wait" or "can I have an extra dessert?"

Being an engineer, I'm kind of a tech-head anyway and like having all the new toys. The kids follow along. But you set boundaries:

- callerID: use it. If it's the fourth call in 10 minutes from the kids, it doesn't get answered. If I don't recognize the number and I'm busy, I'm not answering. Leave a message. If the call's very late or very early, I'm not answering unless I recognize it as a number that indicates there's an emergency in progress.

- Blackberry/e-mail: I'll usually check a few times in the evening/weekend, because I'm using the system for fun a lot and it only takes a minute. Whether I answer the message depends on what it is/who it's from.

- call waiting: this drives DW absolutely nuts. If I'm on the phone and I get the signal that there's another call, I'm not answering it unless I'm looking for an excuse to end the current call. I was always taught that it's rude to interrupt an existing conversation, so the new caller will get directed to voice mail. I'll check it as soon as I'm done with this call. As I said, that drives DW nuts - she'll interrupt almost any activity to answer a new call.

- communications devices on the second floor: DW laid down the law a few years ago. The bedroom is for sleeping and, um, "couple activities." There's no TV in there; no electronic devices allowed. There's a radio only because it's part of the alarm clock. There is a telephone, but the ringer is generally switched off.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 14, 2007 8:12 AM

They made me get a Blackberry for work, but they can't make me use it! I REALLY hate writing emails on the thing. I actually now need it to telecommute. I don't have a landline at home and won't be using my personal cell phone minutes for work.

Mr. atb needs the fanciest, life-organizing cell phone known to man. It's an ADD coping mechanism. It's a necessity.

Posted by: atb2 | September 14, 2007 8:12 AM

Armybrat- Ditto on the bedroom. No TVs, no computers. This goes for kids' rooms, too. Computers and TVs are for common areas only.

Oh, and I can't have any video game systems. I'm far to prone to addiction. I LOVE car racing games.

Posted by: atb2 | September 14, 2007 8:14 AM

Since I own my own business, I work at really odd times anyway but have thus far resisted the pull of the Crackberry. Now one of my clients is offering to BUY ONE for me and pay for the service. A little scary? Yes. Especially since I tend towards the same addictive-pull of technology (which is why I have resisted so far!). But the capability that pushed me over the edge and nudged me to concede is that I can use this Blackberry to get internet access on my computer from anywhere. So rather than pay $10 to sign up for a day of wireless internet someplace, I can just plug in.

It will be interesting to see how this works. Who knows? Maybe I'll be sending it back in a month because I can't manage to keep it...manageable.

Posted by: parentpreneur | September 14, 2007 8:15 AM

My children, both of them but my son in particular, has been obsessed with phones almost since birth. "A cell phone with service" has been on his Christmas list for a few years now, and now my 3-year old is asking for one. What have I created?

I have a Blackberry, too. I love the freedom it allows -- I can be driving my kids to preschool and still take a call if necessary -- but I also only recently realized my usage was overboard. (They don't call it crackberry for no reason.) I would check it frequently throughout the evenings, weekends and while on vacation. No more. I don't know if it's inflated sense of importance or not wanting to miss something big or what that keeps me wanting to check the stupid thing, but it's something I have struggled with for certain.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 14, 2007 8:16 AM

Having a Luddite for a wife, the number of electronic devices in use at the house are limited. She barely can answer her cellphone, you usually have to call her several times before she can located it and manage to answer it.

Both our girls have cell phones growing out of their ears but since they are adults, daddy doesn't pay for this anymore.

When younger son and I were in D.C. a couple weeks ago, it was very handy to have a cell phone. I bought him a disposable one. For 18 cents a minute and no other fees, it was very nice to have.

(I do not accept work calls on my cell, if my company wants to contact me off hours, they can call the house.)

Posted by: fred | September 14, 2007 8:21 AM


gc3,

Are you saying that you stole the Creepy Van and then realized what a piece of s*** it was and returned it? What do you mean reward?

Posted by: fred | September 14, 2007 07:55 AM

____________________

For those who don't understand this sub-thread, see the last few messages posted in yesterday's blog.

(It took me a while to figure it out, too.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 14, 2007 8:21 AM

Speaking of Luddites, I want to beat out the songster and anyone else with a song this a.m. Here is a little ditty to the tune of "The Midnight Special." Good thing she is a Luddite, my marriage may survive this song!


Frieda's Song

Well, you wake up in the mornin, you can't see a damned thing,
And they march you to the table to see the same old thing.
Aint no electricity shining upon the table, and no gas bakin' what's in the pan.
But you better not complain, boy, you get in trouble with the wo-man.

Chorus:
Let the Luddite Special shine a candle on thee
Let the Luddite Special shine a candle on thee,
Let the Luddite Special shine a candle on thee,
Let the Luddite special shine a everlovin' candle on thee.

Yonder come Miss Frieda, how in the world did you know?
By the way she's frowning on progress and crappy pantyhose.
Child on her shoulder, log for the fire in her hand;
She come to see the skillet, she wants to fry some ham.

Chorus

If you're ever in her house, well, you better do the right;
You better not surf, there, you better not use the fridge, at all
Or she will up and grab ya and her boys will bring you down.
The next thing you know, boy, oh! You're 12th century bound.

Chorus

Posted by: fred | September 14, 2007 8:31 AM

Because of my job (an editor), I will probably never need a blackberry (I can't imagine an editing emergency that requires an urgent midnight call from work).

But I do check my work e-mail constantly (like before the little e-mail alert pop-up window disappears). I know it's not good for productivity, but I want my co-workers and bosses to know that I am easy to reach. So I can see what having a blackberry would be like for me, and I can understand the need for boundaries.

Having never been a big phone talker (my brother was the phone hog as a teen), I have not let the cell phone take over my life. I totally screen my calls with caller ID. It's awesome. But if it's a family member, I always answer (we're big worriers in my family).

My biggest pet peeve of technology? Text messaging. I hate getting them and I hate sending them. I love when I see a group of kids sitting at the mall or movies not speaking because they're all texting. I make myself laugh by pretending that they're all texting each other.

And I agree with the gadget blackout in the bedrooms. We don't have a TV, phone, or radio in our bedroom. I like my sleep way too much.

Posted by: Meesh | September 14, 2007 8:36 AM

Love my BB, less so the cellphone. My BB is the only way I can be a partner in a law firm and still leave work at 4 to go get my kids, because my clients and I both know they can reach me if they need to. Or, right now, when we have a trial starting in two weeks, my BB and cable modem allow me to finish up from home after the kids go to bed. And then there's the truly important BB usage: e-mailing my husband my ETA with the pizza. :-)

Yes, it's annoying to get e-mails at 6 or 6:30 that I need to respond to. But my other option would be to still be in the office at 6 or 6:30 every night. I'll happily trade those extra couple of hours most every day with my family for a few evening e-mails.

I prefer BB to cellphone because it's easier just to let it sit -- I find it hard to ignore a ringing cellphone, but I can just check the BB when I feel like it to see if any new messages have come in.

Posted by: laura33 | September 14, 2007 8:37 AM

Songsters, get ready. Next Friday we are having an On Balance song parody contest. Winner is the one who can work in the most mentions of posters and topics. Fred is coming up with a really great prize.

Apologies to all of you who have sent in Guest Blogs that I haven't read yet. I am backlogged due to vacation. Will get to them soon!

Agree that technology is very freeing in terms of balancing work and family. Just need to keep the technology creep in check.

I do not answer the phone during dinner either.

I refuse to get call waiting -- agree it is rude.

My cell is always on vibe so it's less disturbing.

FYI -- Mostly my five year old's ability to dial the phone is largely a boom to family communication. She can call her grandparents whenever she wants, which of course they love too.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 14, 2007 8:39 AM

Excellent, Fred -- one of my favorite songs!

Posted by: laura33 | September 14, 2007 8:39 AM

Out of curiosity, has anyone read the book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" and found it useful?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 14, 2007 8:40 AM

I find my BB gives me more freedom to be out of the office. But I also have no problem ignoring messages on it if I don't have any urgent client obligations or deals closing. Same thing will cell phone. I have found that my colleagues and clients don't abuse it by calling me all the time.

DH however seems to have a BB addiction. It is starting to become an issue as it is literally the first thing he does every morning and must check the thing every 15 minutes. I may need to institute a "no BB policy" during certain hours before he needs to get outside help!!

Posted by: londonmom | September 14, 2007 8:45 AM

Fred,I wrote you!

Songster or Fred will win the prize. They have the most practice...or maybe ArmyBrat.

I can only think of phrases, never whole songs! Maybe that is technology creep in disguise...the focus is on short and on the 'now.'

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 14, 2007 8:45 AM

Leslie -- I thought I was the only person on the planet who refuses to get call waiting. I loathe it, think it is incredibly rude. I even had a hard time convincing the phone company I didn't want it as part of the "package deal" I got.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 14, 2007 8:54 AM

(I guess I entered the Luddite Special a week too soon!)

Actually, there will be two virtual prizes. One for the best parody and one for the worst!

Posted by: fred | September 14, 2007 9:02 AM

We do not answer the phone during dinner either. This includes daughters' cell phones, which I reminded them have a power off button.

If it is an emergencty, we will hear the message on the home answering machine, but we have not heard an emergency yet.

We *do* have call waiting.
Our parents are in their 70's and 80's, with the usual health problems. If we are already on the phone with them, we ignore the call waiting. If it someone else, we apologize, promise to call back (and do so), and take our parent's call.

Our daughters know to call our cell phone in an emergency. Everyone else can wait.

Posted by: chemguy1157 | September 14, 2007 9:06 AM

I also hate call waiting because I suffer from this strange defect that when I am on the phone with someone, I cannot do anything else. Can't answer DH or pour milk for kid or answer doorbell or even fathom how to respond to call wait. I suspect other people who actually LIKE call waiting are more talented in this respect.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 14, 2007 9:09 AM

Perhaps one of the reasons I hate call waiting so much is that I rarely have a phone call that lasts more than about 5 minutes. So it's not a big deal if I don't respond to another call "right now"; I'll get the message within a couple of minutes. The only times I'm willingly on an hours-long phone call is when it's yet-another all-day conference call for work. In that case, I know that somebody tried to call during the middle of it and can immediately check voice mail, using my cell phone to dial.

DW, on the other hand, loves call waiting, so we had to get it as part of the package plan. But, she can be on the phone literally for hours at a time with her mother or sister, especially since I got her the hands-free headset a few years ago. So it's probably more important for her to be able to check the incoming call; she might not get back to it for an hour or two otherwise. But she checks the other incoming call without looking at caller ID to see who it is, first; and she does it even during a call that she knows is only going to take a minute or two.


It's just an area where we've agreed to disagree.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 14, 2007 9:35 AM

Email is great for 5 year old DD's social life and contacting my mother. If I am busy I don't check email if I more time I check it.

I do not own a cell phone. My husband does and he feels funny when it is not ringing. He wants to get DD one but I think she will probably be out dancing somewhere.

Posted by: shdd | September 14, 2007 9:37 AM

My Dad is a doctor, and long before there were cell phones and Blackberries, there were pagers. And before there were generic "pagers", there were "Bellboys" (Ma Bell's name for the paging service she obviously controlled).

When we were kids, we didn't just learn a single home phone number. We also had to learn our Dad's number (he didn't like to tie up our home line with his hours of phone calls) and the Bellboy phone number and his particular access code.

We were also taught that we were NOT to use or call Dad's phone line except in an emergency, or if given permission. If we had an emergency and couldn't reach Mom on our main line or Dad's office line (yes, I had a SAHM), we were THEN allowed to page my father.

Or, if my Mom was out (she's a Master Gardener for Fairfax County), we could page Dad to let him know we had arrived home (but rarely received a call in return, since we had a pre-arranged code for that kind of thing).

And if our parents were having a Date Night (which they did frequently), calling Dad's pager for a non-emergency meant....well, I don't know what it meant, because we sure as hell never tried it.

Five is old enough to know the rules. That Maginot line can be set pretty quickly. Phones aren't toys, and you are not at your daughter's constant disposal. Why isn't she punished for calling you when she knows you are otherwise occupied with "adult" behaviour? You limited your husband's behaviour, so why isn't hers being limited as well?

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | September 14, 2007 9:37 AM

Leslie, I apparently have the same defect. I can't do anything else while on the phone except wander from room to room to get away from noise. My husband's favorite thing to do is to talk to me while I'm on the phone. No amount of hand waving or frowning will make him stop. Then I have to ask the person on the phone to repeat everything I missed because I was paying attention to him.

But I also can't listen to music with words or watch TV while I'm trying to read, so maybe I just have an attention problem.

Another technology problem we have is the Stattracker for fantasy football. I really like fantasy football, so we both have our own team. But while I like to watch the games and root for my players, my husband will have his nose in his laptop updating the Stattracker constantly. It seems like he doesn't even watch the games! Times like these make me regret the laptop purchase and wi-fi in the house.

Posted by: Meesh | September 14, 2007 9:55 AM

Yay! I wrote a song for next week! Fun!

Posted by: atb2 | September 14, 2007 10:02 AM

My little girl calls grandma every day. Once, I came out of the shower and heard her telling someone, "you are not my grandma" that really freaked me out, I thought someone was in the house. She had just hit redial on the phone and got one of my nephews.
Now, I sometimes ignore some calls depending on what I am doing, but I never ignore my mom, dad, or any of the kids.

I am not as addicted to email though. I check my personal email once a day, if you miss me, you miss me.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 14, 2007 10:05 AM

I love caller ID. If it says unknown or private I don't answer it. Since there is never a message I am not missing anything but a sales call. I don't eat dinner at a certain hour so friends and family call anytime.
I am the opposite of leslie and Meesh. I do everything on the phone (love the hands free speaker phone) - I can unload the dishwasher, do laundry and clean toilets all while talking on the phone.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | September 14, 2007 10:27 AM

My Treo is what allows me to leave the office and be more efficient, BUT:

1. I don't have any sort of notification set up for incoming e-mails.

2. I don't "wear" my Treo. It's either being charged at my house, or it's in my car. I check it when it's convenient to check it.

3. I never set up my voicemail box, so I don't have another voicemail to check, and I don't give my cell phone number out to clients.

4. I don't forward my office phone to my cell phone.

I have the same attention span issues that Meesh describes above, and my goal with the Treo is not to have work interrupt my family time, but to allow me to do my work as it fits around my family time. I love not being tied to a laptop and having to pay for hotel internet service for the sole purpose of quickly checking my e-mail. It doesn't make any difference to clients whether I respond before or after the kids go to bed, but they do appreciate the commitment and effort shown by working between 9:15 and midnight, rather than waiting until the next business day to respond. YMMV.

My kids would never dream of calling me at work or on cell unless it's an emergency or something I had told them to call me about. We never even had to sit down and discuss this. They just know and understand that interrupting adults at work is not something to be taken lightly. Plus, interrupting us at work may mean we get home later. That, they appreciate keenly. Once again, Leslie seems to have some trouble with establishing boundaries with her kids.

Re: call waiting. I don't interrupt one conversation to take a call from someone else unless it's our parents. At 80+, they deserve to have their calls go to the front of the line, in our opinions. Our colleagues and friends understand and agree.

Posted by: MN | September 14, 2007 10:34 AM

What a fun thread. I'm the unexpected owner of a brand new iPhone (husband's 11th anniversary gift) and I must admit, I'm in love. I am a nerd at heart, but even I have my limits. I use Caller ID liberally, but I admit ringing phones drive me nuts. I do check email too frequently. I try to be judicious with call waiting.
No TV or computers in bedrooms, but music is a must.
My biggest problem these days is these #@%!! blogs, they are such a time sink :)
To WorkingMomX, I have read Getting Things Done and highly recommend it.

Posted by: Laughlin | September 14, 2007 10:37 AM

Oh - I forgot - I live with a man who has the ringing cell phone attached to his belt 24 - 7 -- except when he is in the shower -- and has never failed to answer the phone after hours. He has a Pavlovian response to the ring. Phone rings. Must answer. It drives me batty that he establishes no boundaries at all. OTOH, his behavior is typical of, and expected in, his industry. Opposites attract, apparantly, LOL.

Posted by: MN | September 14, 2007 10:42 AM

Yep, I have avoided having a blackberry so far, but as a team leader for my firm, I can see it coming. The good news is my bosses, bosses, boss just got one from himself so at lease superiors way above me are not sold on them either . . . yet! Blackberries seem to have addictive qualities. Everyone I know who has one becomes addicted to them within weeks of receiving them, just like cigarette smokers. They have to respond to the e-mail or at least pick up the blackberry and read the one that just buzzed in. Amazing! We had to counsel a younger employee on paying attention when taking action items in meetings vice looking at her "crackberry". I am afraid to get one because my type A personality will not allow me to let a buzzing blackberry be unanswered. The curiosity will overwhelm me. Any way, my 1 cent on the issue.

Posted by: ajackson3 | September 14, 2007 10:43 AM

More crackberry thoughts. My first task when I got mine was to figure out how to shut off audible notification of incoming email -- you can set to no sound, repeat notification is blinking light. I set ringer to vibrate. Like MN, I primarily used the email function, not the phone. The only reason I took a holster was so I could clip it to the inside of my briefcase, not to wear it!

You do know you can set these things to automatically turn OFF at certain times? ;-) - that was the first thing a co-worker set up! (she worked until 6 pm and had hers turn off between 9 pm and 6 am)

Posted by: tntkate | September 14, 2007 10:54 AM

TO MEESH- RIB UPDATE

Meesh, the ribs I made in the smoker were simply mouthwatering. We purchased two racks of baby backs, slathered them with dijon mustard, smoked them for an hour and a half and then added the BBQ sauce. We then watched the Cowboys beat the Giants. A truly great experience.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 10:55 AM

Belated Happy Anniversary to Leslie!

The New York Times (Natch)
September 10, 1995, Sunday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 1; Page 64; Column 1; Society Desk

HEADLINE: WEDDINGS;
Leslie Morgan, Perry Steiner

BODY:
Leslie Morgan, a daughter of Julia Harmon Morgan of Westmoreland Hills, Md., and Donald L. Morgan of Tokyo, was married last evening to Perry Winter Steiner, the son of Patricia Winter Davidson of Somerset, N.J., and Joseph Steiner of New York. Rabbi Charles Davidson performed the ceremony at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens.

The couple received M.B.A.'s from the University of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Steiner, 30, is an international marketing manager at the McNeil Specialty Products Company in New Brunswick, N.J. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University. Her father is a partner in the Tokyo office of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, the New York law firm. Her mother is a special-education teacher and the director of assessments in special education at the Ivymount School in Rockville, Md.

Mr. Steiner, 29, is a principal in TCW Capital, a leveraged-buyout firm in New York. He graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan. His mother is a financial consultant at Smith Barney in New Brunswick. His father is a vice president of Howard Press Inc., a commercial printer in Roselle, N.J.

Posted by: hillary1 | September 14, 2007 11:29 AM

Hillary, thank you. That was a very special day for us. Not sure if the announcement mentioned this but we got married on Stadium Court at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills on Super Saturday of the US Open. The court was where the finals of the tournament were played for many years until 1977 when Flushing Meadows opened. This year we celebrated a dozen years of married insanity by taking our three kids to Positano, Italy where we spent our honeymoon. They loved it as much as we did.

Enough about me!

Except that I forgot to say what a godsend Caller ID is. Couldn't live my life without it.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 14, 2007 11:40 AM

My daughter has had a cell phone since she was nine years old. She has been very responsible--she has never run up minutes, texting, never lost her phone. It's my connection to her, and she can reach me in an emergency, as she did this past Monday, when I had to pick her up from school at lunch time because the air conditioner died.

I have a work-issued Treo, and I love it. I am not addicted, but it's great to be able to check e-mail during legislative committee hearings (and sometimes e-mail committee members during hearings). I've also used the Internet connecttion to check facts during hearings. I'm also a PIO, so ostensibly I am on call 24/7. Fortunately, it's a rare thing for me to get media calls over the weekend, but I time my press releases accordingly (i.e., I don't send out press releases at 4 p.m. on Friday).

I share ArmyBrat's wife's philospohy regarding electronics in the bedroom--I have an alarm clock. My bedroom is my sanctuary.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 14, 2007 11:47 AM

Out of curiosity, has anyone read the book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" and found it useful?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 14, 2007 08:40 AM

You know, there are probably hundreds of self-organization books out there, and they probably all have useful ideas, but I always laugh a little bit at them...when on earth do people with no time to get anything done have time to read a book about getting things done?! Another victory for self-help-pubhishing marketing, I guess...

The beauty of being a teacher -- I will NEVER need a crackberry! If my students need anything, they have to see me in person. I only check, and respond to, school e-mail at school, because if I responded from home, my home e-mail would be out there for parents, and I *need* some boundaries.

As for taking calls, I have finally developed the ability to ignore a ringing phone. Well, OK, I actually learned to turn off the ringers and put the volume on the answering machine ringer and broadcast to low, but it's still a victory.

I do check the caller ID, and I only answer if I know the number and feel like talking. My parents and my kids are the exceptions. My parents are exceptions because, well, they're my parents, and kids because they only call in a major emergency. More often, they send a text message. I don't really like texting too much (I'm the only one on the plan without unlimited texting), but it's the only way son #2 communicates, especially now that he's away. It's the only way he communicates with ANYBODY, even that Jesus dude. If professors ever decide to conduct classes via text, he will graduate summa cum laude.

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 11:52 AM

I just received this...for reflection...

WE SHOULD ALL LEAVE ENOUGH FOR A GOOD MEMORIAL STONE.

Joe died, leaving a will that provided $30,000 for an elaborate funeral.

As the last of the visitors departed the affair, his widow, Helen, turned to her oldest friend and said, "Well, I'm sure Joe would be pleased.

"I'm sure you're right," replied Jody, who then lowered her voice and leaned in close, "How much did this really cost?"

"All of it," said Helen. "Thirty thousand."

"No!" Jody exclaimed. "I mean, it was very nice, but $30,000?"

Helen replied, "The funeral was $6,500. I donated $500 to the church. The wake, food and drinks were another $500. The rest went for the Memorial Stone."

Jody computed quickly. "$22,500 for a Memorial Stone? My God, how big is it?"

"Two and a half carats."

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 11:58 AM

Both my home phone (Vonage) and my cellphone came with call waiting and there was never (as far as I know) the option to get rid of them. I never answer it when I am on the phone, though, just make a note of who called and deal with it later. The unexpected problem is that when I am on the phone with my parents, they hear the little silence gap that the beeping on this end creates and say "Is that your call waiting? We don't want to keep you. TalktoyoulaterBYE!"

Posted by: mlsm01 | September 14, 2007 12:02 PM

RE: Electronics in the Bedroom

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 14, 2007 12:03 PM

RE: Electronics in the Bedroom

Silly me, I thought the vibrating feature that was engineered into the cells phones was specifically designed for bedroom use.

What will they think up next? It was the next evolution of phone sex.

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 14, 2007 12:07 PM

My daughter has had a cell phone since she was nine years old. She has been very responsible--she has never run up minutes, texting, never lost her phone. It's my connection to her, and she can reach me in an emergency, as she did this past Monday, when I had to pick her up from school at lunch time because the air conditioner died.

When did it become so imperative for children to have cellphone? I'm not trying to be critical, just trying to understand. Would it be that terrible for a kid to sit at the soccer field for 20 minutes waiting for their ride? Is it that awful to lay in the nurse's office until they can get ahold of your mom? I don't understand why it is perceived as so important to their "safety" when in reality it seems like convenience. How did we ever survive childhood without anyone to call?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | September 14, 2007 12:14 PM

I'm with you, moxiemom. My boys didn't get cell phones until they started driving. Before that, we would periodically lend them one of ours if we thought they needed a phone to contact us us on a particular occasion.

It' the same thing as a TV in the kids' rooms or personal laptops. We got laptops for the boys as a Christmas presents their senior year, since they would need them for college, and my response whenever they asked for TV (and game system, of course) in the room was, well, you can have a TV in your DORM room. Oddly enough, I just spoke to #2, and he was on his way to the library to study, because his roomie had the TV on, and it was a distraction. He must actually want to stay on the football team (or perhaps there are many, um, attractive women in the library, while there are none in the dorm).

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 12:23 PM

educmom_615, I'm praying that your son isn't going to the library to play footsies with some other guy in the bathroom. :-)

congrats for him making the team!

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 14, 2007 12:36 PM

I have no problem with teens having a cell phone. Sometimes it strikes me as 'Well we never had cell phones" when I hear people railing against it. As long as it is properly managed, no big deal. Now 9 year olds, not gonna happen. Too young IMO.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 12:37 PM

educmom_615, I'm praying that your son isn't going to the library to play footsies with some other guy in the bathroom. :-)

They should have known something was up with that senator when he had his license plates pesonalized to "WDESTNC" ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 12:39 PM

"When did it become so imperative for children to have cellphone?"

Moxiemom, it's the modern day form of helicopter parenting. Think of the cell phone as a remote control device.

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 14, 2007 12:42 PM

"educmom_615, I'm praying that your son isn't going to the library to play footsies with some other guy in the bathroom. :-)"

Please remove this HIGHLY offensive post.
Thank you.

Posted by: hillary1 | September 14, 2007 12:43 PM

BWAAAAAAAAA! Hillary complaining about offensive posts! Now that is funny!

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 12:46 PM

They should have known something was up with that senator when he had his license plates pesonalized to "WDESTNC" ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 12:39 PM

I don't get it...what does that stand for (unless it's really just TOO gross)?

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 12:46 PM

pATRICK, that senator could probably get re-elected. The only thing he would have to do is run as a democrat.

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 14, 2007 12:47 PM

LOL ISLOF - I do think that cell phone are "nice" for older teens and those who drive but this idea that they are unsafe in school or they need them when they are 9 is so foreign to me. Sometimes I feel as if we are seeking to shield our children from even the slightest discomfort or inconvenience. Did anyone else ever just walk home from the baseball field when mom or dad was late?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | September 14, 2007 12:47 PM

"WIDESTANCE" He claimed he had a widestance which is why his foot went under the stall and touched the policeman's foot

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 12:48 PM

Kids and electronics:

We have phones for the kids to share.

We got the first when our oldest started driving, because she had the habit of getting lost in the worst neighborhoods in Baltimore. Now at least she can call on her cellphone; I can pull up Google Maps and say, "Wait a minute; how the heck did you get THERE? Okay, here's what you do..."

We've had two phones for the four kids to share, but the oldest took one to college with her. The other one is to be shared among the other three, but with after school activities - and DS now driving - I'm counting on getting another line real soon now.

(The only time I've seen really young kids with cell phones of their own is when there's a nasty divorce - Dad or Mom can call or text little Johnny directly, without having to go through the other parent. It's a shame, but sometimes the divorce is so nasty that that's the easiest thing to do.

Re: waiting at the field for 20 minutes to be picked up: mostly it's no problem, but every now and then it is. As the coach, I can't leave until all kids are accounted for - but I'm also not permitted by league policy to be alone with someone else's daughter. So if we get a sudden thunderstorm, or the game ends early, kids need to be picked up. I let the kids use my cell phone if they don't have their own, but you would know one time I forgot to charge it and it was dead. Little Sally was waiting forever for Mom to figure out that practice was ending because of the thunderstorm and get there. And because my daughter was home sick that day, I had to talk the mother of Taylor, the next-to-last kid to be picked up, into staying there with us until Sally's mom got there. (Taylor's mom had a cell phone but by that time Sally's mom was 'on the way').

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 14, 2007 12:50 PM

hillary, did somebody appoint you the hall monitor?

Posted by: ISquirtLikeOldFaithful | September 14, 2007 12:50 PM

or when he put the bumper sticker on his car 'I BRAKE FOR WIDESTANCES". Another giveaway.......

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 12:51 PM

Patrick, Moxie: My daughter, now 11-years-old, is more responsible with her cell phone than most teenagers I know, and even some adults. The teenager across the street jumped into her pool with her $300 cell phone in her pocket, so her daddy ran out to get her a new one the same day. She did the same thing less than a month later. I honestly believe my daughter, based on her level of responsibility rather than her age, is more deserving of a cell phone.

*I* want my daughter to be able to reach me, and vice versa. There were several hundred kids that needed to reach their parents from school on Monday--all but a few had their own phones (and this is an urban campus, no soccer field, and it's averaging over 110 degrees, so not many folks want to stand around in that anyway). I will pay the $10/month for the extra line. And as I mentioned, she has obeyed all rules I have set down. If she doesn't, I take away the phone and she pays the $10/month. If she loses her phone, she pays to replace it. So again, I base my decisions on her level of responsibility, not her age.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 14, 2007 12:51 PM

Did anyone else ever just walk home from the baseball field when mom or dad was late?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | September 14, 2007 12:47 PM

Her school is 25 miles from our home...would you suggest she walk home?

Posted by: pepperjade | September 14, 2007 12:53 PM

We get each kid a laptop when he/she enters high school. They often need internet access for homework. No, they don't need their own laptop do to the homework - I need them to have a laptop so that I can actually get access to my own home computer! Otherwise, with six of us sharing a computer, I never get onto it.

The laptop must last all 4 years of high school; I've told each of them that they'll get a new one when they start college, based on what the college provides/requires.

Laptops are ONLY to be used in common areas of the house; I have the administrator password to all of them; and they know that I do check what they do. Any inappropriate use is punished; in serious cases by loss of their laptop for a lengthy period of time (two months is the longest we've ever imposed).

If we take away the laptop, the only computer access they have in the house is the family desktop WITH POS - Parent Over Shoulder - the whole time.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 14, 2007 12:57 PM

Oh, wide stance...now I get it. LOL!

Oh, son #2 has done some dumb things with his phone. He walked into the ocean with it in his pocket, he dropped it on a parking lot while he was playing with it, he dropped a bag of golf clubs on it, and there was something else too (which I don't remember)...the deductible on the phone insurance is $50. After the THIRD time he shelled out $50 in 11 months, he got a LOT more careful. And son #1 constantly downloads photos and whatever crap friends send him, and he has had some software meltdowns, and HE has been through the insurance twice. Good thing they both have some money saved!

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 1:00 PM

Hey, a song contest. I LOVE it. I just hope to have an entry deemed good enough to win!

It is lunchtime, time for a song!

To the tune of Dire Straits' Sultans of Swing!

(see if I can get Laura to love me better than Fred today!)

Bloggers Without Bling!

You get a widget in the dark
a new message has been parked but meantime
Near the keyboard you stop and you hold everything
You know Matt is typing double four time
You feel alright when you hear that songster sing

And now you step inside the page but don't see too many names
Comin' to help you when you're shouted down
Comments from other faces
Oh but the cranks they're blowin' you down
Way on down, way on down in south Washing-ton

You check out Army Brat cuz you know he's where it's at
Mind you, he plays it straight, doesn't wanna cry or sing
Yes and an old car is all he can afford
When he gets up to write his thing

And Laura doesn't mind if she doesn't make the scene
She's got a daytime job, she's doin' alright
She can cook and bake like anything
Savin' it up for Friday's recipe fling
With the Bloggers... with the Bloggers without bling

And crops of the highest cream they're foolin' around in the corner
Drunk and bragging about their best ivy leagues
They don't give a damn 'bout any state master plan
It ain't what they a call real university
And the Bloggers... Yea the Bloggers they play Creole ...Creole

And then Fred steps right up to the microphone
And says at last just as the time bell rings
'Goodnight, now it's time to go home'
And he makes the daily quote the very last thing
'We are the bloggers... We are the bloggers without bling

Posted by: Songster | September 14, 2007 1:05 PM

No, they don't need their own laptop do to the homework - I need them to have a laptop so that I can actually get access to my own home computer! Otherwise, with six of us sharing a computer, I never get onto it.

Posted by: ArmyBrat

Oh, I get that! Fortunately, the high school they attended gave them a lot of flexibility. If they weren't scheduled to be in class, they could be anywhere on the campus, and they did a lot of their research and larger assignments during those free periods.

When they were home, they primarily wanted to IM people, and I had no problem limiting their time to do that.

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 1:05 PM

Did anyone else ever just walk home from the baseball field when mom or dad was late?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | September 14, 2007 12:47 PM

Her school is 25 miles from our home...would you suggest she walk home?

Posted by: pepperjade | September 14, 2007 12:53 PM

Yes, she should walk 25 miles home. It is clear you understand my point exactly.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | September 14, 2007 1:23 PM

DD has had a cell phone since she was 12 - but she's split 50/50 custody and our homes are about 45 minutes apart.

It's great - not only because she can call us when she's getting out of band early or if she's going to have a late rehearsal or something, but because we can go to the mega-Target or the mall and she can go off with her friends and shop without us and we can still get her back to us when we need her. She's on handset number 7 in the two and half years she's had it, though - stolen, ran over by mower, still good but out of warranty and stored for 'emergencies', and two warranty replacements on the current one. Really only one was her fault (the stolen one was stolen by a student with other phones as well from a teacher's desk, and he was arrested), and she paid for the one she mowed.

I wouldn't *NOT* have a teen with a phone now. She pays for her overages, and pays for unlimited text messages, and otherwise is only an extra $10 a month for us. It's worth it in peace of mind.

Posted by: RebeccainAR | September 14, 2007 1:36 PM

Posted by: moxiemom1 | September 14, 2007 01:23 PM

My point is that walking home is not an option for all kids, certainly not for an 11-year-old who attends school 25 miles from home, and genaralized statements such as "Did anyone else ever just walk home from the baseball field when mom or dad was late?" do not fit all families' situations. Not to mention...if mom goes to the baseball field where she expects little Johnny to be waiting for her and he has walked home without letting her know, mom might get a little worried. Well, I would, anyway, but I would be able to call my kid to find out where she was if she was not where I expected her to be at a predetermined time. That's the assurance I buy for $10/month, and my daughter has been more responsible than a lot of kids much older than she is. It's not for everyone, but it works well for us. Leslie's blog was about electronic communication devices and balance, and ease of communication between my daughter and me contributes to the balance in my life. She is the most important person who calls me on my cell phone.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 14, 2007 1:43 PM

I'm provided with a cell phone for my work. I hate it. The system I work on interfaces with east coast systems (I work in San Francisco and live in Oakland) and there's absolutely no reason that they need to contact me after I leave the office at 4:30. That's 7:30ET, and the system we interface with shuts down at 5ET.

Last year, they finally took away my desktop work station and replaced it with a laptop. The intention was for me to carry the laptop home at night and be able to do more work. Sorry, uh-uh, not happening. My time at home is for me and my family.

Yeah, I'm on the mommy-track. I put myself there on purpose about 12 years ago. With an autistic kid and a diabetic husband, I need to be there for my family, not spending 12-14 hours a day climbing the corporate ladder. Thankfully, there's a lot of respect for that, and also a lot of respect and appreciation for all I do in the office every day.

No cell phones at home. They just aren't necessary.

There are currently only five computers for our four-person family, which is pretty funny because the last time the boys' bedroom machine crashed a hard drive, DH made a couple of upgrades to the slowest of the three machines in the kitchen (DH's kingdom of technology) and gave the upgraded machine to the boys, then took all the hardware out of their crashed machine to upgrade his, so now he's down to only two machines.

DH does volunteer computer support for the kids' schools and for a local Catholic Worker House. He also picks up a bit of paid work once in a while.

The boys also have a stereo and a small TV (with cable) in their room. There's a larger TV (also with cable and DVR) and stereo in the living room, and the PS-2 is hooked up to it. We have rules about how much "screen" time the boys get, and none of it is before their homework is done. If they start arguing (doesn't matter which one started it), the contested device and everything else gets turned off and they get to go play outdoors for a while, or read a book.

DH uses call waiting. He can spend hours on the phone with his sister, and calls me at work anywhere from two to six or seven times a day. But he sometimes gets calls from older son's school (the autistic kid), and needs to take them.

My personal pet peeve is when DH carries the phone into the bathroom while he's talking to me. I really don't need to hear him doing his business. He knows I don't like it, and he apologizes, but he keeps doing it anyway.

Posted by: sue | September 14, 2007 1:45 PM

The first thing I did with my Blackberry was find the auto on/off and set it. I usually have 5 or 10 messages waiting for me in the morning. I always answer calls from my husband and kids, but they usually text rather than call. We have call waiting with caller ID, so we can see who is on the other line before deciding to answer the call or not. The kids don't have TV's, phones or computers in their rooms, only radios. Leslie, do your child a favor and teach her boundaries.

Posted by: sparks3 | September 14, 2007 1:53 PM

The kids don't have TV's, phones or computers in their rooms, only radios. Leslie, do your child a favor and teach her boundaries.

I agree and except for dressing, i plan on a don't expect privacy rule either. Shut doors and tv's and computers and phones in rooms are a recipe for trouble. I have no intention of allowing a bomb factory or internet web hostess in my house. ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 2:00 PM

pATRICK, those ribs sound good! It's always nice to hear good food stories.

Posted by: Meesh | September 14, 2007 2:03 PM

TVs in any bedroom are bad news or so I've read. The point is to sleep in your bedroom.

pATRICK I am with you on the computers in the bedroom issue. Kids can get in trouble easily on the internet with all the crazies. I think the best idea is a common area where the kid can be seen and heard.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 14, 2007 2:09 PM

Leave Hillary alone. We need some fresh blood around here.

As I've said before, I believe in giving kids cellphones for safety and convenience reasons, if your life is as complicated as my kids' lives are.

But I totally oppose televisions and computers in their rooms. I want them to be part of the family. I want to be able to see them. Their rooms are for sleeping and playing with their friends. They can watch tv and surf the net where I can keep an eye on them.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 14, 2007 2:15 PM

Leave Hillary alone. We need some fresh blood around here.

You have bad taste Leslie, first IT and now IT'S cousin.........

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 2:17 PM

Need new blood here?

What am I? Chopped Sushi?

Posted by: nonamehere | September 14, 2007 2:29 PM

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. I'd temporarily broken my on balance addiction, but I'm back.

As a techie, my 2 cents is this -- Blackberry is so yesterday. Windows Mobile technologies are the next wave for business people. (iPhone will have the same level of business acceptance as apple servers do -- none.)

Commercial aside, I have to stay linked remotely. Just make your employer pay (salary/bonus) for the privlege of being able to contact you whenever.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | September 14, 2007 2:39 PM

Actually, Mako, I would have thought you'd agree with Leslie on that one - "fresh blood" in the water tends to get your type all excited.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 14, 2007 2:40 PM

ProudPapa - "Windows Mobile" ????? Oh, gross - that stuff's purely disgusting.

I've been developing systems and applications that run on mobile platforms - Palms (e.g. Treo), GSM/GPRS phones, BlackBerries, Symbian, etc. - since Spring of 2000 and the Windows stuff is still the lamest stuff out there. Those folks can't write a desktop O/S (Vista? Give me a break. Bloatware.) right, and now they're going to deal in environments where memory and bandwidth limitations are paramount.

Not that you've, like, touched a nerve or anything. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 14, 2007 2:43 PM

Proudpapa, you are probably right, but considering that MS puts out buggy crap in both software and hardware, they will never be a player in the consumer market. I love apple stuff, it works and it doesn't need driver after driver etc.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 2:48 PM

ab,

Nah, I had a taste of her last Tuesday and spit it out!

Posted by: nonamehere | September 14, 2007 2:49 PM

Mako doesn't eat junk food............

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 2:51 PM

Beware - Geekery below -

So, I see I've hit a nerve :-)

A/B it's (still) about convergence! I'm no Microsoft fan, but they have me trapped. All flavors of O/S around the house, Mobile 5.0 on the Blackjack and Windows C/E on the Acura. They have me surrounded!

If you and I invented a universal smartphone doc with a services layer that allow professionals to go from home to car to conference rooms (docking the smartphones at each station for whatever level of interaction was appropriate at that location) we'd make a mint.

Hold on, Bill Gates is recording this conversation. Forget I mentioned that...

Seriously, MSFT will "solve" O/S bloat today the same way they solved it on the I386 circa mid-1980s --- wait until the hardware makes the discussion irrelevant. These days people are running 512MB at least in their hands backed by 4GB Micro SDRAM. Hell, you practically run Siebel on that.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | September 14, 2007 2:53 PM

Okay, one more thing -

Here's Microsoft's answer to Balance:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Home_Server

Windows Home Server.

When they finish updating Vista so you can start your crockpot and dishwasher online, it will run through Windows Home Server.

Who'll be laughing then, BlackBerry people?

:-))

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | September 14, 2007 2:58 PM

Windows mobile?!?!...ok, I know he gives a lot to charity, but does Bill Gates REALLY need any more money?? And do we, as a society, REALLY need to allow our cell service (because you KNOW he will infiltrate all cell comapnies) to be as reliable as our PCs? And do we REALLY need to give any more power to someone who is pushing for expansion of H1Bs so he and other tech execs can avoid giving experienced techies raises (while they wonder out loud why the people smart enough to major in the field in college are also smart enough to now choose majors that will guarantee them jobs in four years)?

Mako, do you ever feed off the coast of Seattle?

Hit a nerve...well, I feel better for venting anyway.

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 3:01 PM

My personal pet peeve is when DH carries the phone into the bathroom while he's talking to me. I really don't need to hear him doing his business. He knows I don't like it, and he apologizes, but he keeps doing it anyway.

Posted by: sue | September 14, 2007 01:45 PM

sue, you are so not alone with this pet peeve, LOL.

Posted by: MN | September 14, 2007 3:04 PM

"When they finish updating Vista so you can start your crockpot and dishwasher online, it will run through Windows Home Server."

More like your home will burn down and flood it at the same time because MS told the crockpot to heat up to the wrong temperature and told the dishwasher to pump twice the volume of water in. MS stuff is a POS

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 3:06 PM

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 03:06 PM

I would LOL if it was not so true...

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 3:09 PM

Rats - forgot to move the seat back. Nice ride - thanks for the treat. BTW - Love the hula dancer.

Posted by: gutlesswonder3 | September 14, 2007 07:37 AM

----

Teehee. Glad to see you found the keys gw3, and that you enjoyed the ride.

On to technology!

Have not yet succumbed to the crackberry, but I anticipate having one by the end of the year.

Hate call-waiting -- I find it rude and we don't have it. Between the land line and 2 cell phones, we are usually reachable.

DD (9) does not have a cell phone, though she wants one. We will consider getting her one in middle school if she has matured and does a better job of keeping track of her possessions.

DD has all of our phone numbers. She only calls me at work if I've asked her to for some reason (usually to confirm that she was picked up by a friend's mom and is where she's supposed to be). Otherwise, she knows better.

The trick is to control the technology, not let the technology control you. Cell phones, laptops, computers, crackberries -- these are all tools. In the right hands, they can make one's life easier. In the wrong, a living hell.

MN, I relate to living with a man who lives with his cell phone strapped to his belt. He doesn't understand why I don't have mine right next to me at all times. I tell him it's a technological convenience, not a ball and chain!

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | September 14, 2007 3:10 PM

Mako stays in the Atlantic. Mrs. Mako wants to move but it ain't happening!

Posted by: nonamehere | September 14, 2007 3:10 PM

If and I say IF, i was to think of giving a kid a cell phone it would be the cheapest cell phone made, because I GUARANTEE, they will lose it or break it.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 3:13 PM

pATRICK if your house catches fire and floods at the same time, would not Mister Gates be able to cite that as "Balance"? ;-)

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | September 14, 2007 3:13 PM

weather update: It is FINALLY raining in NC! wooowiiiieeee...

it's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring....

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 14, 2007 3:13 PM

PROUDPAPA, and they say you techies don't have a sense of humor! yes, very balanced indeed.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 3:20 PM

Abu,

How do your wives handle crackberries, cellphones, and balance?

Posted by: hillary1 | September 14, 2007 3:23 PM

Abu's elephants stepped on all the electronic toys when he was trying to secure them from the hurricane!

Posted by: nonamehere | September 14, 2007 3:27 PM

OK, you know what my electronic vice is...? spider solitaire. There, I said it. Yes, my name is educmom and I am a solitaireaholic!

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 3:32 PM

Hillary: "Please remove this HIGHLY offensive post. Thank you."
pATRICK: "BWAAAAAAAAA! Hillary complaining about offensive posts! Now that is funny!"

Hillary:
There's almost no point trying to be humorous, is there? Especially if you're using irony, sarcasm, or something more subtle than a "Knock, Knock" joke. pATRICK and his alternative login, mehitabel, just won't get it.

Posted by: bababooey668 | September 14, 2007 3:34 PM

Educmom -- DH became addicted to spider solitaire when he was recovering from his accident. He still dabbles a few times per week.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | September 14, 2007 3:34 PM

Vegasmom, I'm just glad it's legal and there's no money involved.

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 14, 2007 3:37 PM

Have a nice weekend!

Posted by: pATRICK | September 14, 2007 4:11 PM

(Warning - lawsuits and geekery ahead.)

ProudPapa, now that Microsoft's surrogate SCO has filed Chapter 11 because they're going to lose all their lawsuits so big, Microsoft will have to slow down for a while. At least until they can find somebody else stupid enough to take their money and be their stooge.

(For those not familiar with it, a small Utah company called SCO sued IBM,Novell, AutoZone, DaimlerChrysler and threatened to sue 1500 of the largest companies in the US for stealing their software - specifically, putting Unix code they "own" in Linux. They funded the lawsuits with a 25 million dollar investment that came indirectly from Microsoft, plus a little from Sun. They hired David Boies, famous litigator and lead partner of Boies Schiller and Flexner, and gave him MS's money. It didn't work, mostly because nobody stole anything from SCO and put it in Linux, and SCO doesn't actually own anything anyway.)

(End of lawsuits and geekery.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 14, 2007 4:23 PM

As I've said before, I believe in giving kids cellphones for safety and convenience reasons, if your life is as complicated as my kids' lives are.

But I totally oppose televisions and computers in their rooms. I want them to be part of the family. I want to be able to see them. Their rooms are for sleeping and playing with their friends. They can watch tv and surf the net where I can keep an eye on them.

Posted by: leslie | September 14, 2007 02:15 PM

YMMV, I guess.

If my kids had cell phones, they couldn't take them to school. Besides the district policy against it, we're talking about urban Oakland - no, it's not all bad, and my boys are in schools that have mostly intra-district transfer students (if one can afford to live in the hills, one's children are almost surely in private schools) whose parents made the effort to get them into the best public schools available in the district - some of the students are thieves and any electronic device on the school campus could be stolen.

As for electronic devices in the kids' rooms -
Our tiny little 2-bdrm, 1000 sq ft bungalow doesn't have enough space for everything that "should be" in common areas.

It impacted their homework when we tried to have them use DH's computers. The only workable solution was to get them computers of their own, and the only space for them was on the kids' desks in their room. For a while we had one for each kid, but that was too much, so now they have only one which they share.

And sometimes we parents want to watch our favorite TV show (not appropriate for the kids) at a time that's convenient for us (love DVR!) without having to keep chasing the boys away. Nice to send them to their room to entertain themselves.

There's no lack of supervision - we haven't fixed the settling of their bedroom door, so they can't close it completely, and the cats will push it wide open when they want through - which anyone who is owned by a cat will know, means that the door flies open at unpredictable, but most-inconvenient times.

DH manages the household network, and keeps track of what sites they're visiting on-line, and can shut off their network connection if they break the rules.

We did have one *interesting* incident about two years ago. Older son was searching for Final Fantasy web sites. Younger son asked DH if there were "30 Final Fantasy" games. No, about 13 at the time. Turned out that it was a triple-X site based on some of the Final Fantasy characters, and younger son read it over his brother's shoulder as a roman numeral.

Older son learned that there were severe consequences for answering the over-18 questions untruthfully. One of the rare advantages of raising an autistic child - not knowing how to lie, and always remembering and keeping promises made - we can be sure he won't do that again. It's going to be much harder when younger son reaches puberty... But at least DH has a really good attitude about respecting women, so the boys have a good role model. And DH and older son had some really good discussions about guy-stuff because of that incident.

Anyway, just wanted to say that a kid with a computer or a TV in their room isn't always an indictment of the parents. Sometimes (like in a really tiny house) it's just the only thing possible for everyone to have access to media.

Posted by: sue | September 14, 2007 6:10 PM

DD has a computer in her bedroom, but it does NOT have an Internet connection. She can use it to play games on CD, keep track on her friends addresses and phone numbers in Contacts, and use Word to work on homework assignments and her own creative writing efforts. But, if she wants to use the Internet, she needs to come downstairs and use the computer in the family room/kitchen.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | September 14, 2007 6:31 PM

Dear Ms. Steiner,

In the process of googling my name to see if another article of mine had been printed in a different newspaper than the Post, I came across your "On Balance" blog and the comments concerning my article, titled "The Case To Stay Home" in the Washington Post. My article referred to Ms. Amy Joyce's piece, "How to Handle The Return" from May 13, 2007, about women returning to work after having children. First, I would like to make clear that I appreciate your supportive comments concerning my letter, especially as regards to the slant of the media in favor of mothers who work outside the home, and then I would like to comment on some of the posted remarks which I read. In as far as there were 312 comments altogether, I did not attempt to read them all, neither do I expect to do this in the future if another letter of mine is published. However, I would like to respond to some of the general ideas that were set forth in several of the postings.

One theme which I noted was that there were other full-time moms like myself who agreed with my assessment that the media represents almost exclusively the interests of parents who work outside the home. One notable exception to this trend I believe, which one blogger mentioned, was the Oprah Winfrey Show, in which Ms. Winfrey makes clear her admiration for full-time parents. I also agree with a male blogger ("father of four") who mentioned that the public school system often serves as free childcare nowadays, which caters to the wants or needs of parents who work outside the home.

Another theme which I recognized was the belief that somehow I was being judgmental for my opinion that it is better for children to be raised primarily by a mother or father, rather than a daycare provider or other childcare worker. Sorry, I do not believe it is judgmental to have a firm opinion about an issue, as long as no derogatory words are used to describe people with opposite viewpoints. In the same way, while I do not agree with Ms. Leslie Bennetts, the author of The Feminine Mistake, as far as I think it is a bigger mistake to miss out on so much of your child's life if you can afford, maybe with some financial discipline, to be there during the workweek while your child is growing up, I would not describe Ms. Bennetts as judgmental, but rather that she has a different viewpoint than my own. Throughout our lives, we are constantly making decisions on major issues, like abortion or about lifestyle choices, and it isn't just because we think our decisions are better just for us. Many times we think a certain way of doing things or conducting our lives is the best way, or we wouldn't have chosen it. This strength of conviction doesn't make a person judgmental; rather, it just reflects an individual's belief in which course of action is the best. When we vote for the President of the United States, for example, we vote for who we think would make the best choices for everyone in our country, from the issues of abortion, to health care, to education, or to foreign policy. When we exercise our responsibility as citizens and vote, we are not being judgmental, yet we are judging according to our opinions, what is best for all of us.

Finally, another point of view, which I noticed was that I must be wealthy. In truth, I do not understand how a person could make that judgment without knowing me at all. A mother does not need to be wealthy in order to be home raising her children full-time; while the statistic currently quoted has the percentage of mothers who must work outside the home at 70% or 75% in Maryland, I question these numbers simply because it is hard to separate wants from needs, especially nowadays, when the standard of living is much higher than it was 30 years ago. While granted there are parents who have no choice but to work outside the home due to financial considerations, I do believe that there are working parents who could afford to be home raising their children during the day if they were willing to scale back their standard of living at least during their twenties and thirties.

My husband and I may be more comfortable financially than at the start of our marriage, but this is after years of financial sacrifices, and we are now closing in on the big 50. We moved from the lower level of another family's house, to an apartment, then a small rancher with one bathroom, and finally a modest colonial. We managed to make do with one car for nearly fifteen years of our twenty-two year marriage, at least 15 years of which I have not worked outside the home, and were willing to forego many luxuries, including fancy vacations and weekly restaurant meals. In short, the assumption should not be made that a couple is wealthy simply due to the fact that they have only one member in the outside workforce. Yes, a certain income is required simply to subsist on one salary; however, not all stay-at-home mothers are rich, anymore than all mothers who work outside the home have to work.

In short, I appreciate your interest in my article, as shown on your blog after the printing of my letter in May, and I also appreciate your open-mindedness in considering the viewpoint of both full-time moms and moms who work outside the home. While I, of course, did not enjoy reading negative comments about my letter, I realize that it's always best to be exposed to all sides of an issue, and it's wonderful that in our country we are so free to express our viewpoints. In that vein, I respect and appreciate both your comments concerning my letter and those of the individuals who posted comments on your "On Balance" blog.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Wolff
Bowie, MD

Posted by: msgtww | September 15, 2007 4:41 PM

Ah, the myth that with a little belt tightening and someone can stay at home. If it were as simple as one car and not eating out weekly, which is the reality for even those of us with 2 parents working. You're an idiot.

Posted by: atb2 | September 17, 2007 8:50 AM

At least, I do not stoop so low as to call people names because I disagree with them. Although I often disagree with letters in the newspaper or blogs on the internet, I realize everyone has the right to their opinion and would never resort to namecalling to get my point across.

Posted by: msgtww | September 22, 2007 11:59 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company