Two years ago, I sold all my gold jewelry to buy my daughter an iPod Touch for her birthday.
It was nicer than my first iPhone, but she wanted to say she had a phone, anyway, even though she admitted the Touch is shinier and faster and yes, better. It didn't matter: Semantics are what they are.
Six months ago, my husband told me even phones not connected to a plan can call 911. That night, I cleared out my old phone and handed it to her.
I have worked in online publishing in one format or another since 1999. I've read danah boyd. I've talked to friends with older kids. I always knew a day would come when my girl realized she could use those iThings to talk to her friends whether we gave her phone service or not via the glory that is wifi.
I'm sitting here on the couch with her phone and iTouch charging next to me while her father reads with her in bed. She's not in trouble; I'm just enforcing the rule I made in my head three years ago: Once she starts emailing and texting, from 8:40 pm to 6:40 am those devices stay with me.
I've just never had to do this before. I'm flummoxed.
My girl will be eleven next weekend. She asked tonight if I had trouble resisting the siren song of my first smartphone, and I was all, "Well, I was 34 and had better impulse control, so not so much."
I remember, though, the giddiness of having Liz Gumbinner show me Twitter for the first time at a conference and realizing we could totally pass notes in class without booting a laptop and OMG THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.
It wasn't so much the tech I was excited about. It was the friends on the other end of the tech.
So here I sit with my girl's devices, smiling, because no, I don't trust her impulse control to resist texting all night, not this child who inspired me to call a book "Sleep Is for the Weak." But I'm excited for her that she has friends who want to talk to her, that she has something to be excited about. That's part of the human condition, wanting to connect.
It's why I'm writing to you, after all.