Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Keeping Up With the...Benjamins? - Cara Potapshyn Meyers

 The following is a direct quote from a posting on Facebook last week, written by a Mom friend of mine:

“I was just told by my kid that I’m the worst Mom ever for not buying him a new (Nintendo) DS. While that was hurtful, I told him that there is special training for that at Mom School and that I won the Best ‘Worst Mom in Training’ award! The nerve!”

This posting elicited more than fifteen responses from other supportive Moms, including me:

“My son said that there were only 4 kids in school who didn’t have (Nintendo) DS games and he was one of them. I responded by asking him, “Do they have their own laptops like you do (my hand-me-down), and not have to share them with a brother or sister? And do they have their own iPhone to play a thousand different games on (also my cell service though)? He said, Um, no.” So I told him that he was pretty lucky and privileged even without a (Nintendo) DS. That left him speechless.”

I bring this up because my husband and I have been going through this “DS Drama” for a few weeks now. And although the Mom I quoted received quite a few accolades for the creative comeback she quickly thought of, it still is not getting to the root of the problem, nor is it teaching her child where the line has been crossed. This same Mom posted after mine that although she liked my post, her kids were, “So teched out, it wasn’t even funny.” So where is that line?

I wrote a few weeks back about wanting to “fit in” with my peers at age fourteen by having Levi jeans with the leather tag on the back. But that was probably a $20 pair of jeans. Yes, expensive for jeans 30 years ago but not in comparison to a $130+ Nintendo DS, where each game costs between $15-30! There is even a service similar to Netflix called “GameFly” where you can rent games for an unlimited amount of time, but with a monthly fee attached.

My husband and I have been intensely debating this “DS” issue and how to make it purposeful. During this time, with my assistance, but with my son’s own money, he bought an accessory kit for a DS he doesn’t even own yet. I suggested he could temporarily use it to carry his iPhone in, (which he constantly misplaces. More on that in a minute), and his response was, “No, Mommy. This case is ONLY for my DS.” The one he doesn’t have yet. He also has a DS game, this time with my husband’s assistance, but with my son’s money to purchase it. (This kid has been offering and doing quite a lot of extra chores around and outside of the house).

Right now many of you are thinking, “But both you and your husband are in the position of Enablers! You are giving this child what he wants, but in a circumferous way!” Yes, and no. We made a deal with our son that he has to save up his own money to pay for half of whichever DS he wants. At a starting price of $130, that’s a lot of saving. And the cruel part of this is that Nintendo has just released a 3D DS game, which costs close to $300. And guess which kid is going to be one of only four kids in the whole school who does not have a 3D DS game, six months from now? You guessed correctly.

Now, here’s what I don’t quite understand. My son uses my old iPhone, which he plays pre-approved games on. There are probably close to 100 games on this little gadget, so you don’t have to carry (and risk losing) any of the games. Most of the games were either free or close to $.99. Many of them are quite similar to DS games. And the best part? My son’s phone is wirelessly connected to a service I have for my own iPhone, where if it gets lost, I can lock it down so that it cannot be used and even post my husband’s work number on the screen with a message saying, “If found, please call xxx....” Try doing that with a DS!

There is also another concern I have. Children with Auditory Processing Disorder and ADD, like my son, are notorious for losing and misplacing things. I can’t tell you how many mad dashes there have been, on most mornings, looking for my husband’s keys (he also has ADD). I even put up a key holder for him to put his keys on when he walked in the door. He never used it. We use it for dog leashes now. My point is, why give a kid, who is prone to misplacing/losing things, an expensive item, which has styluses which can easily get lost, game cartridges which could easily be lost, heck, the whole DS could easily be lost! But as a Mother who has continually allowed her son to take chances and face the consequences when necessary, I am allowing my son to have his DS. If he has to work to obtain it, he might covet it enough to limit losing all of the little accessories. And he will have to pay for whichever accessories he does lose. And if he loses the actual Nintendo DS, I will comfort his loss, but will not replace it.

It is going to be a few months before my son saves up enough money to buy whichever DS he chooses. In the meantime, we will be working on responsibility. Coming home with a forgotten lunch tote or rain jacket is not conducive to being a responsible person. However, my son didn’t purchase those items himself. We have an interesting test coming up in our lives.

Stay tuned...I am certain there will be more to come!

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