I am the mean mom. The one that elicits groans from my children's’ friends when I politely, but firmly tell them there are no cellphones allowed in my car.
When my oldest turned 10, all of his friends started to get phones and they wanted to flip through the latest memes or text their friends or play music (when the car radio was already on) or play games while not speaking to each other while I drove them to practices, games, and school activities. There was a brief period of time where I allowed this behavior.
But growing tired of feeling like an unpaid cab drive, I started to say no. Every time. There are no phones allowed in my car.
Outside of work, half my time is spent driving kids around to various activities and coordinating carpools with our myriad of working parent friends.
While one can question the life choices that have led me to have multiple children involved in competitive sports, here we are. And here are all their friends who they have made through the same activities.
Each of my children has their own cellphone because they are left at sports activities without us so that I can run another child to another activity. In the event of an emergency, they need to be able to reach us. Same holds true for all of their friends.
By 10, most of their friends had phones.
Because of their schedules, most of their evening time outside of school during the week is spent in the car or at practice. So time in the car, whether it’s just with me or it’s with their friends, is time for social interaction.
Over the years, I have eased up on this rule a little bit to allow an occasional googling of some fact that we’re debating or a song selection. But I’m okay with being the mean mom if it means that the kids learn how to interact with other human beings or exist in a state of boredom for a while and learn to let their minds wander.
The no phone rule has led to some awkwardly silent drives. It has led to several discussions that ended in arguments. Listening to the same music has led us to screaming out 80’s song lyrics at the top of our lungs until we’re laughing so hard we can’t sing any more.
It’s worth it.
My oldest it approaching the age where he will get his driver’s license and though I won’t miss spending so many hours on the road, I will miss the captive audience and the time we spend together. Time that I would have missed by allowing him to bury his face in a phone and ignore me until he mumbles “thanks” as he gets out of the car.