Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cellphone Suspicion

I'm becoming very suspicious of cell phones. I know, it sounds a little paranoid, but I have reason to be suspicious.

It started when my oldest stepson got a cellphone in high school. I thought it was a good idea because he was driving so having a cell phone was a safety issue. Plus, I could call him and get him to stop and pick up a gallon of milk on the way home instead of having to get dressed and go back out again late at night mself.

But then things started getting a little weird. First there were the calls at all hours of the day and night and we had no way of knowing who he was talking to unless we asked. Which, if you've ever started asking your teenager any question, you'll understand is an exercise in futility. It used to be that teens had to use the home phone attached to the kitchen wall with a long cord which gave parents 1) the ability to answer the phone and find out who was calling before putting our teen on the line and 2) allowed us to monitor the conversation since the phone cord only stretched so far.

Now, our teen was talking to people we had not prescreened and taking the conversation out of our hearing range. Then there was the texting. Fingers flying over keys while at the dinner table or when we were all watching a movie at home.

"What's he saying? Who's he talking to? What's going on around here!!!"

No teen deserves this level of privacy if you ask me. It just feels wrong.

Then came something I wasn't expecting. BM (birthmom) started calling our son on his cell phone and getting the lowdown on where we were and what we were doing. Plus she was making plans with him without having to go through us. Not that we necessarily have to approve her plans with the kids. But when she calls directly to son and gives "orders" about when to leave our home and where to go at a specific time without talking to us - without even our knowledge that she's calling and giving him parental orders - it can cause problems. Like when our son rounds up his brother and sister at 4 p.m. on a Sunday and says "Time to go meet mom," and My Beloved and I are planning dinner for the family at 6 p.m.

"Wait just a minute, you can't leave. Who said you were going anywhere? You didn't ask us if you could leave today at 4 pm. We've got plans."

That boom you just heard was the start of yet another war between My Beloved and the BM. Who knew the cell phone would become a mechanism of war?

And over the years, this espionage has only gotten worse. Now all the stepchildren have their own cell phones (I bet you can guess who bought said phones. . .) so there seems to be near constant communication at all hours of the day and night between BM and stepkids while they are with us that we don't always know about.

Now I'm not complaining about not having to talk to BM myself anymore. Especially when she would call 3 times a day when the kids were with us for the weekend. But this spy tactic has become especially bad in the summer when the stepkids stay with us full time. BOOM! And those aren't fourth of July fireworks you're hearing.

It's not only intrusive, it's downright creepy. Like having a stalker. Someone else knowing where we are and what we're doing at all times. Someone else giving parental instruction to the kids while they're under our roof. Issuing parental orders that nearly always conflict with our plans. Happens every summer. I guess I should be used to it by now, year 5.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I'm all for open communication between parents and children. I don't necessarily feel the need to talk to my child every single day that she's with her dad during his visitation time. A call every other day is enough for me personally. And I guess I can understand that some parents feel the need to talk to their child every day. But three times a day?! First thing in the morning? Last thing at night? Updates on their movement at all times?!!!

That's called "not respecting boundaries" at the least and "pyscho-ex manipulation" at the worst. Plus, these kids are teenagers. They don't want to report in with parents all day long every day.

Maybe someone could invent a way to limit the number of calls per day a cell phone can receive from a particular number. The technology could be called IB ( Insanity Block). With IB, perhaps I wouldn't be so suspicious of cellphones anymore. Are you listening T-Mobile? Can you hear me AT&T?

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