Teaching Responsible Technology – Should a 7-Year Old Have His Own Cell Phone?

Teaching Responsible Technology – Should a 7-Year Old Have His Own Cell Phone?

Originally posted on Moms Magazine

The other day my 7-year old son got off the camp bus and told me some of the other 6 and 7-year old campers had their iPads and cell phones with them on the bus. I knew where this conversation Cute boy using a mobile phonewas ultimately headed so I did what any self-respecting parent of a 7-year old who is begging for an iPod Touch of his own, and who is desperately trying to teach her child that there is more to life than hand-held devices, X-boxes and laptops – I changed the subject. The next morning at the camp bus stop a good friend whose children also attend camp mentioned hearing that some of kids had their iPads and cell phones with them on the bus. No changing the subject this time.

We were both puzzled and agreed it wasn’t about these kids having their own iPad or cell phone (that’s their parent’s personal choice); it was about them having these things on the bus, in front of our kids – and using them responsibly. Talk about peer pressure. And I can only imagine the conversation in the home of one of these children if they happen to leave the iPad or cell phone on the bus, or it gets stolen. Will the parent be upset with the child or themselves?

I’m not against having my child or any other child use technology or even have their own devices – far from it, nor am I one to pass judgment on how others parent their children; heaven knows I’m not perfect. I just believe there is a time and place for said devices and summer camp is not one of them. The parent camp handbook agrees with me too, but I guess some parents skipped that page. I also know there will come a day when I’ll need my child to have his own cell phone — it’s just not right now.

Believe me, I’m not perfect. There are days when I succumb to the technology temptation my child possesses and give in to him just to have a conversation with my husband or get something done (guilty as charged), but at 7 years old, he’s not carrying around a cell phone or owns his own tablet, and he’s certainly not in charge of when he gets to use one of these. In fact, he’s currently in week 2 of a 3-week suspension from using the iPad for not following the rules and quite frankly, life has been pretty enjoyable.

Yes, technology has forever changed our world and that includes how we raise our children. Again, there’s no right or wrong answer to how much technology you should expose your child to, and at what age. The Internet is full of studies favoring one side or the other. In the end, it’s a personal decision. But, it is up to us, as parents, to teach responsible technology, for nothing more than our child’s safety and understanding.

And every so often, we need to unplug from everything and just let our kids be kids. There’s so much for them to do and experience beyond technology. For example, last night, since we’re still in technology lockout at our house, my son and I played cards. Yep, good old-fashioned, Bicycle playing cards. He taught me a card game he learned at camp and I taught him Black Jack. Now that’s what I call parenting!

Please share your opinions and thoughts on the use of technology with young children!

 

Conquering the Fear and Celebrating the Milestone

Conquering the Fear and Celebrating the Milestone

Originally posted on Moms Magazine

One of the biggest achievements in a child’s life is conquering the fear of something they believe they’re too scared to do. This includes, but is not limited to: walking, potty training, going to school and riding a bicycle. One of the biggest achievements in a parents’ life is conquering the fear to accept their child is actually doing something not only the child thought they’d be too scared or never do, but also that we as parents are too scared to have them do it. This includes, but is not limited to: walking, potty training, going to school and riding a bike! So when these achievements are made it’s probably impossible to decide who is more excited – or still fearful.

Image 2When it came to teaching my son to ride his bike, I was convinced this was going to be a long process that would include lots of bumps, scrapes and bruises and in the end, who even knew if he’d learn to ride. And that’s exactly how it played out. We purchased his lime green bike (his choice) with training wheels three summers ago, when he was 4 years old, and it was my dream he’d be up on two wheels by summer’s end. That dream quickly faded. If he rode the bike more than five times, I’m exaggerating.

bike2The following summer we took him to a free bike-riding lesson for kids where they took the training wheels and pedals off with the guarantee he’d be up on two wheels riding by the end of the class. We definitely got what we paid for as we left without him even trying. To be fair, there were several kids who conquered their fears that day and rode off on two wheels; not ours.

Conquering the Fear

This summer, at age 7, I guess it was just his time. After several attempts of “practicing” he was just ready to get on his bike and ride. The pedals went back on and he got out of his own head and the next thing we know, he’s riding (and I was freaking out)! Once he was up he said to me, “Mommy, something just popped in my brain and I was ready to ride!” Gulp.

I’m not sure who was more proud – him or me? And he’s gaining so much confidence with every turn (once he can push off and get going). Here’s the irony, as he gains confidence, my fear increases. Is he going too fast? Will he know to get out of other people’s way? Will he be aware of his surroundings? And the big one – If he falls, will he get back up? For this last question I can tell you, yes he will and he did. Of course, that didn’t stop me from running to his rescue. But I was at the ready with bandages and Neosporin to clean him off, and a big hug encouraging him to shake it off and get back on.

IMG_8120Now we’re faced with a bigger problem – he’s outgrown his bike! It has been three years. So in celebration of this huge milestone and of conquering the fear (his, not mine – yet), we purchased him a new lime green bike (still his choice) – with 6 speeds, two handbrakes and a kickstand. This hasn’t totally allayed my fears but the overwhelming pride I see on his face when he gets on that bike helps make it a little better for me. And when he falls (which he has — several times) he quickly jumps up to let me know he’s okay and just keeps on riding. Can you imagine what I’ll be like when it’s time for him to drive a car!

 

Help! I Need an IT Consultant Who Makes House Calls!

Help! I Need an IT Consultant Who Makes House Calls!

Originally posted on Moms Magazine

businesswoman looking at the camera

businesswoman looking at the camera

Being a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) can be a blessing and a curse. When I tell people I work from home they think that’s the coolest thing ever because I can set my own hours and not be tied to a desk all day, not to mention having the flexibility for raising my son and schlepping him here and there. Most days this is true but every so often it would be nice to have the “noise” of others around you and not feel so alone. Don’t get me wrong, peace and quiet is great for focus and getting things done more efficiently but how efficient can one be when the technology they rely on craps out and no one is there to fix it?

I’m now entering Day 5 of trying to solve the mystery of why I’m being locked out of my personal blog – Judy-ismsBlog.com while in the walls of my own home. I think I’ve spent about 15 hours over the phone with every person/company associated with my computer and website. How’s that for efficiency?

It makes no sense because the only place I’m unable to access this website is over my own Wi-Fi network. I’m serious. Go ahead; try clicking on the site for yourself. You’ll soon see it load and notice that the last entry (before this one) was back in January. That’s right, I’ve been dealing with this same issue for the past 6 months (and 5 days). By the way, if you must know, I’m posting this entry from a Starbucks using their Wi-Fi. Yes, I’m being a true poser today!

I’m sure if you’re reading this and are a technology expert you’re saying one of the following things:

  1. It’s a hosting issue – wrong. I can access the site from anywhere in the world (including Bermuda, where I was last week).
  2. It’s an ISP issue – maybe, but they won’t take the blame and tell me it’s a router or computer issue. I won’t mention the name of my ISP because I’m a professional – but I will tell you they’re a very large company who unsuccessfully merged with a large digital company back in 2000 which was called, “the biggest mistake in corporate history.” If you couldn’t tell – I’m not a fan.
  3. It’s a router issue – maybe, but I just purchased a new router and that didn’t help as I still have the same issue. So glad I spent that extra money.
  4. It’s a computer issue – wrong. I was on the phone with my computer tech support for about 4 hours one night and they essentially restored my computer to its factory settings and rebuilt it over the phone. You guessed it, I still have the same problem. They even bumped me up to the highest priority of unsolvable issues technician. Still won’t work.

This is why I need an IT consultant who makes house calls – or a therapist! I do not speak computer lingo and don’t even know what half these words mean – this is so not my area expertise.

So the next time you meet someone who tells you they work from their home, envy them if you must, but don’t automatically assume they’re the luckiest person around. Instead, remember the last time your email or website went down and all you had to do was call your IT department. Uh huh, who’s lucky now?

I wonder if Starbucks would mind if I just moved my office here.

 

 

 

Superman of the Subway – An Extreme Random Act of Kindness

Superman of the Subway – An Extreme Random Act of Kindness

bsubwayIt was a normal journey home from school yesterday for Jack and me. We walked to the subway station with his friend, Lisa, her sister and mother, and waited on the platform among all the other school children and their parents and caregivers. Jack was so excited that the “B” train came first because for some reason he and Lisa love the “B” train. Jack and I typically exit the train at 72nd Street, as it’s closer to where we live but lately, he has asked (pleaded) to take it to 59th Street, the next stop. This is Lisa’s stop and he likes to ride with her. Who am I to come between friends?

As the train rolled into the 59th Street station we gathered all our stuff and began to exit. Now Jack is a seasoned subway rider and prides himself on knowing all the different lines and stations. In other words — he’s obsessed with subways. One thing we taught him early on about riding the subway is to stay away from the platform edge and when entering and exiting the train, be mindful of the gap. Unfortunately for Jack he suffers from an inherited condition from his mother’s side of the family called, “excessive talking.” So on this day as he was exiting the subway he was chatting up a storm with Lisa and wasn’t mindful of the gap and yes, his foot and leg got stuck.

As he screamed out the words, “Mommy, my foot is stuck,” not only did I have an out-of-body experience and go into superhero mode to pull him to safety, the entire platform came running to his rescue. Right as I grabbed him and pried his little foot free, his shoe fell off and hit the tracks. He got very upset because these are his brand new, favorite shoes.  As I was comforting him and telling him I didn’t care about the shoe because it could be replaced, out of the corner of my eye I see a man jumping out of the tracks with the shoe in his hands!

The Shoe!

The Shoe!

Now I’ll be honest and say that once I knew Jack was safe, for a nanosecond I thought, “Damn, his new shoes.” But that was a passing thought because I really could have cared less about the SHOE. And while I’m grateful for this man’s random act of kindness, I’m horrified at the thought of what could have happened. I sincerely thanked him and told him he really didn’t need to have done that since it was so dangerous and he simply looked at me and said, “I’m a father and the same thing happened to my son.”

The whole experience was truly mind-numbing and I can’t stop thinking about the what-ifs.  But since everything turned out OK – I’ll choose to think about the Superman of the Subway that saved my son’s shoe and pray he will retire his cape and NEVER jump onto the train tracks again.

50 Life Lessons I’ve Learned Over the Past 50 Years

50 Life Lessons I’ve Learned Over the Past 50 Years

50 life lessonsToday I hit the half-century mark. Wow – that’s a big, ginormous number! I remember being in high school and calculating how old I’d be in the year 2000 (36 for those wondering or who aren’t that fast with math). I also remember thinking that 36 was a huge number too – funny how that’s not the case now. As I do a little self-reflecting today I thought I’d share 50 life lessons I’ve learned over the past 50 years. Only time will tell if I make it to the Today Show’s Smucker’s 100th Birthday list (and honestly, I’m not really sure I want to), but for today, I’ll celebrate this milestone with sense of pride, nostalgia, some aches and pains – and a big sigh of relief that I’m still here to enjoy life, because there’s still so much more I want to do!

50 Life Lessons I’ve Learned Over the Past 50 Years — (In no particular order!)

  1. Filter before speaking (still working on this one!).
  2. There are a lot of things in life you can’t change – hair color is not one of them. (Thanks, Mom!)
  3. Conquer your fears and try something out of your comfort zone – unless it will land you in jail or on America’s Most Wanted.
  4. Go to at least one major sporting event in your life.
  5. Perms are generally a bad.
  6. Before you do something crazy, ask yourself, “Would I do this if I were sober?”
  7. Women should understand and play at least one sport.
  8. Love may mean never having to say you’re sorry – but if you really pissed off a loved one – say you’re sorry!
  9. NEVER say never.
  10. Being a late bloomer has its advantages.
  11. The most important accessory you should always wear is a smile.
  12. Be a positive example to young, impressionable minds – especially your children – they watch and learn from you.
  13. Learn how to do something in the kitchen – even if it’s boiling water!
  14. Visit at least 10 states and one other country in your lifetime.
  15. Stay in touch with friends from your childhood – they will always remind you of the person you were and the person you wanted to become – if you’re not there yet.
  16. You can choose your friends, unlike your relatives.
  17. Appreciate your parents every day – even if they’re no longer here. You’ll understand why once you’re a parent.
  18. Pay your taxes – and your parking tickets.
  19. Serving on a jury is a fascinating process, but pray your fate won’t rely on it one day.
  20. Don’t drink and drive (and today add texting); it’s not worth it.
  21. Failure is not a sign of weakness, just fail fast and don’t make the same mistakes twice.
  22. Send a thank you note when someone does something nice for you.
  23. If given the opportunity, move out of your hometown – you can go home again, if you want to.
  24. Bad fashion styles from the 1970s and 1980s are still bad fashion styles when they come back around (can you say bell bottoms and shoulder pads?)

    Judy & Celia

    My angel in heaven.

  25. We all have angels in heaven, and some of them even share your birthday.
  26. Understand the difference between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now!
  27. There are two types of people in the world: those who know and those who want to know. Be the one who knows, but don’t be a know-it-all.
  28. If you don’t have anything nice to say – tell your best friend because they’ll probably think it’s funny!
  29. Big boobs will get you free drinks. (I’m not proud; well sort of)
  30. NOTHING IS EASY!
  31. Your life will be tested time and time again and you’ll never know your own strength until you have to use it.
  32. You can wear white before Easter and after Labor Day – especially in Texas or Florida.
  33. Take responsibilities for your actions and don’t pass blame for something you did in the first place.
  34. Things typically happen for a reason and if you can’t figure out why – the reason is probably not yours to understand.
  35. Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.
  36. Mother-Daughter relationships are complicated.
  37. Bad things can and do happen to good people; a book with the same title won’t make it better.
  38. The only thing constant in life is change – embrace it.
  39. You’re never too old to reinvent yourself.
  40. G-d’s last name is not dammit (something I thought true my entire childhood).
  41. Hug, kiss and tell your kids and spouse/partner you love them every day.
  42. Believe in Love, no matter how old you are.
  43. Indulge in some sort of extravagance at least once a year – you deserve it.
  44. Karma is a bitch – and things do come back around.
  45. Respect your elders – they’ve been around the block a time or two and you can probably learn something from them.
  46. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  47. A child’s laughter will always make you smile.
  48. Don’t become a “Jack of all trades” and a “Master of Nothing” – pick a lane.
  49. Tell the truth, but learn the art of diplomacy.
  50. Carpe Diem #RIPRobinWilliams.

Here’s to the next 50 and learning more along the way!