Beat This

At the risk of ruining my street cred, I’m going to tell you the truth: I don’t have an iPhone.

I’ll pause here, so you can judge.

{whistling out of tune}

Shall we go on?

My family has what the phone companies now refer to as “basic phones” – slidey phones with a teeny keyboard. We text and make calls with them. Well, CC and I make calls, but the kids only communicate via text. #3 once texted us from the bathroom when she was throwing up in the middle of the night. We didn’t get the message until morning.

The reason for the lack of smart phones is purely financial. Right now, braces and getting everyone back to school fully supplied are higher priorities than being able to check email in a public restroom or block pedestrians by looking up movie times while walking around the city.

I don’t look at the cell phone bill every month. Because we block all data and have unlimited texting, it’s always pretty much the same.

Eventually though, I do look at a bill and discover that #3 has managed to send 18,749 texts IN ONE MONTH. I am not making this up. She’s thirteen. I’m astounded, impressed, and appalled all at once. Thank god for unlimited texting. Still.

I immediately go around my workplace and tell every single person and then post it on Facebook.ย Everyone, even teenagers, agree that it is A LOT of texts. More than twice what even the most prolific texters produce.

When I get home I call #3 into the dining room. I sit her down with a pencil and a piece of paper.

Me: Did you know that you sent 18,749 texts last month?

#3: {mouth drops open}

Me: Let’s pretend that you follow the rules and don’t text in school.

#3: Ummm, okay. Sure, let’s do that.

Me: And let’s pretend that you sleep eight hours a night and aren’t texting boys at two in the morning.

#3: {looks guiltily at floor}

Me: Take away the time that you’re playing sports and eating dinner and that leaves how many hours in a day?

#3: {adds and subtracts figures} Sometimes four and sometimes eight or a little more on weekends.

Me: Let’s just call it seven per day. Now, how many free texting hours would you have in a week?

#3: 49?

Me: Good work! How about in four weeks?

#3: {scribbles} 196?

Me: Okay. Divide your total number of texts sent by your total number of available texting hours.

#3: Wait, what?

Me: 18,749 divided by 196.

#3: Can I use a-

Me: No, you can’t use a calculator.

She does much scribbling and eye rolling, but I am holding her phone hostage, so she is motivated. It hasn’t stopped buzzing since I took it.

#3: 95.6 something.

Me: You’re sending almost a hundred texts an hour! Don’t you think that’s too many?

She lights up with one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen on her.

In this moment I know everything I have been trying to do has backfired. She’s so proud of herself. Here is an achievement that far surpasses what any of her friends have done. Nobody can touch this.

I stand my ground. I am nothing if not tenacious. I summon up all my follow-through and channel my own mother’s voice as best I can, and say the only thing I can come up with. I hand her back her phone and say, “Make it less.”

And she has. The numbers still come in well over 10,000 but they are, in fact, under 18,749. She was without a phone all summer because it was broken. She texted it to death.

Her 18, 749 texts pale in comparison to stories like this, but it’s still quite an accomplishment.

How many texts do you send in a month? What battles have you lost with your teens?


52 thoughts on “Beat This

  1. That is a lot of texts! That is exactly why My 13 year old step daughter doesn’t know that we have unlimited texting! LOL We have AT&T and they have this program called “Smart limits” and I think I pay $5 extra a month for it.. She has a set limit of texts she is allowed to use per month. You can also set the times she’s allowed to receive texts. Which is good to prohibit that 2am texting with boys! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Eldest son managed to run up a bill of over ยฃ570 in one month, the phone company said that although he had unlimited texts he’d abused the offer…. he’s now on pay as you go and I don’t pay!
    That’s some pretty serious texting going on there!

    1. Holy crap! That’s a lot of money! That’s like what, a million dollars American? ๐Ÿ™‚ How old is he? When’s the right age to kick your kid off your family plan?

  3. wow, that is a lot of texts! I send maybe 5 texts per week (sometimes less) and I’m also a weirdo who doesn’t own a smart phone. Partly cost but mainly because I have a terrible habit of dropping my phone (butter fingers) and sometimes that happens to be in my coffee or the basin when I’m washing my hands. ยฃ5 phones are easy (i.e cheap) to replace!

  4. Wow! That is truly impressive, and I love how you made her do the math (I was going to have to do it myself, if you hadn’t, but I should’ve known I could count on you!). I can’t share any kid struggles, but it’s definitely a struggle to tear my husband away from his smart phone sometimes (we can’t afford iPhones either, we just get new phones from Verizon every 2 years)! And yet, he still has an opinion about what I’m watching on TV… It’s one or the other, pal!

  5. Over 18,000 texts is quite a feat. Well done, #3.

    My only issue is that you felt the need to drag long division into this. That qualifies as cruel and unusual parenting, right?

  6. I can only imagine the trouble I would have gotten into at 13 YO with a cellphone! I get into enough at 50-something with an iphone! ๐Ÿ˜‰ BTW, GREAT parenting! Such restraint! I wonder where you learn stuff like that? Rock on, Julie Baby! โค

  7. I don’t have an iPhone, either. Just an LG that pretends to be smart by having internet access and a touch screen/flip qwerty keyboard. And I send about 1600 texts a month. Sometimes it’s boys at 2am.. I think that’s a lot. 18,749 is sort of insane. My little sister, who is 13 years younger than I am, used to actually sleep with her phone in her hand. I remember thinking she couldn’t possibly be cycling through sleep stages properly if she was anticipating texts that way. I didn’t say anything to her because I’m her sister, not her mother. But you? With your “Make it less” forcefulness? AND making her do math at the same time? Totally sounding more and more like a mom! Hope it worked!

  8. How are her thumbs? When I first started texting a lot, my thumbs became temporarily mishapen. With 96 texts per waking hour, I figure she’s disfigured. Perhaps vanity may help here. Point out that no man will ever marry a girl with text-deformed fingers. (or buy her some nifty white gloves to assist )

  9. LOVE your blog. I stumbled across it through another and it’s great!
    When we first had unlimited texted when I was in HS I sent 5,000 a month. How does she manage 18,000 good grief?! haha

  10. You do realize that after almost three months of no texting, she’s probably gonna run it up past 18,000, right? Just be prepared. And buy me Subway. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. You’re allowed. I’ve found that with people our age, we consider 5000 to be on the high side of the right amount. She did like three and a half times that. It boggles my mind.

  11. O. M. G. This is a major concern. I’m not sure we have unlimited texting plans over here. YIKES! I do have a smartphone (a grown-up phone, not an iPhone) myself and my oldest daughter gave all the kids iPhones but as yet they have no sim in them. I should do some research.

    18,749? I think I’m about to faint.

    Question: How did we manage without texting when we were teenagers?

    1. My sister and I spent hours and hours on the (land line) phone. We constantly pestered our parents for another line and they wouldn’t budge. Then they limited our phone calls to five minutes. We were outraged!

  12. This is hilarious. I’m a stepmother of a 13 yo girl as well. Her phone is prepaid and we tell her to keep it for emergencies but the reality is that when she first gets new credit, she talks for hours (including calling me each afternoon to while away the time while she’s bored on the bus). By Day 3, she’s either run out of credit or lost the phone in the depths of her room (or both). She can, however, maintain chat conversations with 20+ friends on Facebook all at the same time. How she manages it boggles my mind.

    1. That’s how all the kids except for one spend their money. Yes, I too am boggled by how many simultaneous conversations they can keep going. I struggle with Tweetdeck! Thanks for reading & commenting!

      1. Same here! Half an hour on Tweetdeck and I’m freaking out at all the little bird calls. Clearly, our kids’ generation has taken multitasking to new levels.

  13. OMG – my 8yo son just asked for a phone yesterday and my 4yo can already use my iphone better than I can. It’s terrifying! BUT, I do have to put in a plug for the iPhone – if nothing else, the GPS feature can direct you to all the liquor stores in a 10 mile radius. Handy!

  14. Holy crap! That is crazy!

    No iPhone, no smart phone. I have a prepaid phone because we don’t use the cell phone very often. I text maybe 5 times a day, tops. So that’s about 150 a month. And I don’t know how to use Tweetdeck either.

    I am a dinosaur.

  15. WOW! 18,749!!!
    Well there was a time when I could chat with about 15 people on facebook, gtalk, yahoo messenger etc at the same time. And send like 500-700 texts a day. Sometimes upto 1000. But then texting was cheap. Now they’ve altered the plans on my network so i am considering changing my network. But I don’t think I’ll go back to 500/700/1000 texts a day. By the way even I don’t have an iphone. But i can access internet so it’s good. I don’t mind not having an iphone because my phone is all i want and need apart from new and cool. ๐Ÿ˜›

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