Decisions, Decisions

Posted by on April 26, 2013

Ughhhh…blerghhhhh….arrrghhhhh… Big decisions are afoot over here at my house. And if you know me well enough, you know that I am a worrier—but not one of those annoying worriers that constantly ruminates on their concerns—out loud—over and over and over until you want to jab a sharp pencil in one ear and clear out the other.

No, I am a secret worrier. There is always a mental chess game going on in my brain…weighing pros and cons and what ifs and trying to stay two jumps ahead of fate and circumstance until I’m mentally exhausted and have to take to my sofa and nap it off. Some people eat when they are stressed or upset or worried. I sleep.

So, the minor stuff first…

My almost 13 yr old daughter wants an iPhone and if anyone had told me a few years ago that I’d even be considering such a thing, I would have insisted they put down the crack pipe and seek help.

Anyhoo, she already has a regular phone she peevishly refers to as a “dumb phone” because it has no internet and even worse, NO INSTAGRAM!!!  OHHHH, THE HORROR OF IT ALL!!!!

I just got it for her about 6 months ago because she was going on a trip with her Girl Scout troop and I wanted her to be able to contact me whenever she needed without having to ask anyone or borrow a phone yada…yada…yada. It doesn’t help at all that her BFF just got her first phone and it’s an iPhone 5.

Honestly, if we weren’t grappling with other issues, I wouldn’t even consider letting her have an iPhone but since an iPhone 4 would be free on our plan and it would only be an extra $10 a month more than what we pay for her “dumb phone”, I’m actually thinking about it.

My primary concern is that she will become one of those kids who always has her nose in her phone. I don’t like it when adults can’t pry themselves away from the tiny magic screen and I really hate it when kids do it (looking at you, neices and nephews). But the upside is the leverage I will have with her—TONS AND TONS OF IT!

Of course, this begs the question of why I am actually considering letting her have the stupid iPhone (aside from the leverage).

You see, she attends a very diverse International Baccalaureate (IB) magnet school and the kids come from all over the county. Making friends you can actually spend time with outside of school is very difficult when they live up to 45 minutes away. Having an iPhone will let her stay in touch with her school friends as well as all her friends from her old school since she never gets to see them either.

She’s been feeling really left when she gets together with her old girlfriends because they are all connected by school and apparently by their phones, too (via Instagram, Facetime etc). It’s really not that different from the blogging world…we adults stay connected by social media and if you’ve ever been to a blogging conference without a smart phone,  you know exactly what I’m talking about. It kind of sucks :(

The much larger issue is that she wants to change schools.

For the last two years she’s gone to the magnet school but now she wants to switch back to our local middle school. Ugh…there are so many things with both of these schools that bother me but the long and short of it is that she doesn’t want to be at her current school anymore.

Since this is a K-8 school (which I love), her younger brother goes there, too, and that throws yet another monkey wrench into the decision.

What do we do with him? The school he wants to go to is not available to us and the one that is kind of sucks. While he’s extremely bright, he’s having difficulties with writing/handwriting and he needs to be somewhere where he won’t get lost in the shuffle, which would be the magnet school where he is known and cared for and gets the help he needs. But…I’m concerned with some of the stuff he’s being exposed to there and to be perfectly honest, he told me he’s tired of being the only “pink” boy in his class for the last two years.

By pink, he means white. And just to so we’re clear, it’s not racism. He just wants to not be the only one. I think anybody that’s the “only one” of anything, in any situation, would wish for someone like themselves to be there with them. He’s friends with all kinds of kids of all different races and ethnicities. He just doesn’t want to stand out so much and this makes me sad for him.

This magnet school is great in so many ways and there are so many things I like about it but there are things I don’t really love. However, the OTHER middle school has things I definitely don’t like, too.

For one thing, it’s around 80% upper middle class kids, many of which are entitled little brats with parents that aren’t much better. I didn’t like them so much at the elementary school and I doubt I’d like them now. Of course, that’s MY problem, not my daughter’s. But it opens the door to other things—my kids wear uniforms at their current school and I’m not thrilled about her going to a school where designer clothing and accessories are the unspoken uniform. I really don’t want her getting caught up in all that bullshit.

This other school, even though it’s the top middle school in the area, academically speaking, also has some drug problems. I assume is because these kids have a lot of expendable income and an equal lack of supervision and my husband, who grew up here said it has always been that way.  I just get an icky feeling whenever I think about it.

But, all her friends go there and they all seem very happy and well-adjusted and at a volleyball game last night (my daughter’s school against this other middle school), I observed much more camaraderie and support between the players there. They actually acted like a team, whereas at my daughter’s school, the team is definitely less of a team and more of a bunch of little cliques based on race and ethnicity. She, being one of three white girls and a non-rockstar player like the other two, is pretty much an outcast and a few of the girls are just flat out mean to her—TO A TEAMMATE. It shouldn’t be like that but it is and I can’t blame her for not liking it.

I don’t feel comfortable even talking to the administration about it. No matter how I try to explain what my kids are dealing with, I fear I will be branded as some kind of racist and that’s just not true. If I was, I wouldn’t have sent them there in the first place or come back for a second year.

So, while this other middle school is unappealing in some ways, there are some good things about it, too—she will have a chance to be with her friends and make new ones and if she plays volleyball next year, hopefully she’ll be with a team of girls like the ones I saw last night. And I know you shouldn’t pick a school based on your kid’s friends but at this age, their peers are SO important to them that I can’t help but consider it.

The bottom line is we can stay where we are and she can learn to defend herself against all the BS she deals with daily instead of just taking it or she can go to this other school with messed up values but lots of her friends and *I* learn to deal with snobs and gossip and parent politics. And my son? I have no idea what we’ll do with him.

We haven’t made any decisions yet so I guess I have some more secret worrying to do.

If you have any helpful advice, I’d love to hear it.



  • Trav1sty says:

    I can’t even imagine the toll that’s taking on you. I know you’ll do what’s best. You’re a great person in that regard. I am definitely interested to know how this pans out.

  • Gus&Otto says:

    These are such challenging and difficult decisions. School choice should be simple, but it’s always complex, and always problematic.

    Ours kids got phones when they were in grade 7. I wanted the kids to have them, my wife didn’t. In grade 7 the kids had to start taking the city bus to school and the school was 3km from our house. I wanted them to have phones in case they got in trouble, we needed to reach them, or what not. They weren’t fancy phones by any stretch, but they could text and call.

  • I can see both sides of getting your daughter an iPhone. On the one hand, I see TODDLERS with a newer iPhone than I have so I can see why she feels she should have one at her age. The price issue makes getting one the way to go. I would definitely go over some rules before you even agree to get it for her. Like it gets shut off/muted for homework or at meals and if her grades suffer or she doesn’t listen when you are talking to her because her nose is in her phone, she loses it for a day (or longer).

    The school issue sounds so scary. It’s hard to know if you’re doing the right thing because you think the other school will be better but you won’t really know until she’s going there. It would be nice for your daughter to be at school with her friends and hopefully they’d be a good influence on her. Does she only have one more year of middle school before high school? Can you wait until summer to decide? Things may change by then.

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