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The cellphone ban
The dad who banned cellphones at his teen’s party is a modern-day hero, says Jennifer Crocker.
A while back my son spent a weekend at my sister’s home in Montagu. She reported back, with a certain level of surprise that she came upon the two of them lying on opposite couches in the lounge talking to each other on MXit.  I also found it a bit odd. My son, when I questioned, looked at me like I was mad:  ‘Mom we were in the same room, but there were other people on who we were talking to as well.’ Okay so that made perfect sense in a weird way.
Don’t get me wrong I have no personal issue with my children using MXit, they know the rules of safety and I am not part of the ‘oh my goodness if my children use social networking they will be lured into slave trade in a seedy mall’ brigade. It’s just that like all things I believe it has its place.

And that place is not under the table with food being eaten with one hand while a weird glow emanates from beneath the tablecloth (okay I lie we never use a tablecloth), nor on the way to school when I am delivering a seminal lecture on the importance of working hard.

So, it was with great joy and mirth that my son handed me an invitation to a friend’s party. It was a chatty well-written invite and it had a wonderful PS added to it. It basically said, ‘Do not bring your cellphone with you, if you do my father will drag you down into the pits of hell’, or it might have said ‘will throw your cellphone into the pits of hell’. It went on to say that said father didn’t want a bunch of teenagers all staring at their cellphones while at the party.

I whooped with joy, I practically phoned the dad to congratulate him. After all if you have gone to the trouble of organising a party and a guest list has been drawn up then it seems only reasonable to me that the guests at the party should be in-the-flesh ones not virtual ones.

The joy and hell of the cell

Cellphones are a mixed blessing in my life. I don’t like the fact that my son, who is now is high school, is allowed to have his phone at school as long as it is turned off during school hours. This is not because I don’t trust him to keep it off. I sort of do, mainly because I think that the fear of having the phone taken away from them will inspire them to keep to the rules. But it is very handy to be able to get messages after school hours telling me exactly what time rugby practice will end.

I know that lots of people have very strict rules about where to use cellphones, and here are a few of them that I think are important:
  • you may not be increasing the size of your thumbs texting (should that be txt’ing?) during any form of worship
  • at family meal times around the table you need to put it away (a friend of mine was mortified at an evening dinner party to see a greenish glow emitting from his daughter’s lap)
  • when you are being shouted at by any parent you should be paying full attention;
  • if I take the trouble to come and kiss a child goodnight it had better not tell me to wait while finishing up a conversation.

Oh, and for some reason teenage boys quite often seem to end up tossing their lifelines into the toilet. I am too scared to put forward a reason why this might be, but it seems to me that taking calls, or messaging in the bog is out of bounds. If, however, such a boy does lose control over the phone and it gets wet, take it apart immediately and immerse in dry rice, this will dry it out and it will hopefully be restored to rude health. I know, we’ve had to do it.

At the end of the day my real admiration for the banning of cellphone at party rule, probably lies in the fact that my son was unable to phone me and ask me if I would mind fetching him half an hour later than the stated end time. Hmmm wonder if that was the real reason for the father’s dictate?

What are your not-negotiable cellphone rules? Could you ever do what this dad did?

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