Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life Lessons

A few weeks ago, Flowering Buttercup was helping serve dinner at a church function and accidentally dropped her iPhone into a bucket of drinks.  There was just enough standing water at the bottom of the bucket that the phone came out with some noticeable side effects.  

The damage was pretty insignificant, but to a 16 year old who knows her phone better than she knows her sisters, and who relies on it for everything in her life, the damage was severe.  Only one speaker was audible.  Her music apps were all "messed up."  And the volume control no longer adjusted the volume of her calls (as if she ever actually CALLS anyone??)  
She tried the rice thing.  You know, that method of drying out your iPhone by submerging it in a container of dry, white rice.  Apparently that's supposed to absorb all the moisture inside the phone.  It didn't work.
She tried Googling information and asking all of her friends how she could fix her phone.  And finally, two days later, as a last resort, she asked her parents.  

Let me tell you why we were last on that list.  In April, while I was in Hawaii visiting my mom, my Android died.  The Scout Master convinced me to cross over to the Mac side and just get an iPhone.  He said our phones (and therefore our schedules, calendars, and lives) would finally be compatible which would make life so much easier for everyone.  As usual, he was right.  I was instantly in love with my new iPhone and raved about it when I got home from my trip (and showed everyone all those beautiful Hawaii pictures that I had taken with my PHONE!)  Flowering Buttercup was sold and knew that her life would only be complete if she also had an iPhone.  (She sometimes gets confused about the things I have waited 42 years for and the things she is entitled to at 16.)   
She already had a perfectly adequate little phone and we were very hesitant to give in and let her have access to social media, the internet and YouTube 24 hours a day, right from the palm of her hands.  But the thing about Flowering Buttercup is that she knows what she wants.  And when she knows what she wants, she makes a plan, and she gets it...every time.  By May, she had talked to the Verizon guy about the cost of upgrading and talked to her dad about the monthly cost to own a phone, and then saved her money until she was able to buy one herself.  She paid for her own iPhone, the protective screen cover, and the blingy little case that protects it.  She also manages to come up with $30 on the 1st of every month to cover the cost of her data plan.  (That is seriously a mystery to all of us because she doesn't have a reliable source of income.  The deal is, if she doesn't have $30 by the first of the month, she has to give us her phone.  Somehow, at the eleventh hour of every month, there is a call to babysit or a birthday check or money from the sky, and she is able to pay her bill and thus keep her phone.  She is convinced that this is because she pays her tithing every month.  I'm sticking with that as a very valid explanation.)

Initially, when we set up her data plan, the Scout Master requested that she also pay for insurance protection in case of droppage or breakage or accidental death/dismemberment to the phone.  She, very confidently, stated that insurance would be an unnecessary expense because she never loses anything or breaks anything (that's mostly true.)  So she opted to discontinue the insurance after the initial 30 day period.  And that plan worked out great until two weeks ago when she dropped the phone into the bucket of water.  

She didn't want to have to admit to us that she had actually broken her phone and that she would now have to replace it at her own cost because she no longer had insurance.  When she finally did tell us, the Scout Master and I were secretly happy that she would be learning a nice little life lesson from all of this...potentially lots of them.  The benefits of having insurance.  The cost of being over confident.  The patience that comes from having to settle for a less than perfect phone.  We shared her frustration over what had happened, told her how sorry we were that the rice didn't work, and then sat back to watch the lessons unfold on their own without a single lecture from either of us.  Oh, the contentment...

The next day, I picked Flowering Buttercup up from school and she was positively bubbly for the first time since the phone accident.  During a conversation she had had with a friend earlier in the day, FB realized that she had only owned the phone for 6 months!  Her friend pointed out that iPhones come with a one year warranty!  So she could just walk into the Verizon store, tell them what happened, hand them her phone, and get a brand new, perfect one in return.  I explained that it didn't always work that way, that sometimes you have to take responsibility for your actions...whether accidental or not, and that if we actually went to the Verizon store they would explain that to her.  

So we did.  

And guess what.  

She told them what happened.  She handed the cute Verizon guy her phone.  He tried to reset it.  It didn't work.  He placed an order for another iPhone to be OVERNIGHTED to us.  We would receive it by the next afternoon!  hooray

So much for life lessons...

Instead of comforting her as she learned a hard lesson, I had to spend the 10 minute drive home listening to her say things like, "I love Verizon." and "See, Mommy, everything always works out."  and "That was so easy.  I wish we had gone right to the Verizon store instead of living with this broken phone for a whole weekend!" and "did I mention I LOVE Verizon?"  ugh...

When she finally took a breath, I reminded her that just because we can have everything, doesn't mean we should.  And that just because the Verizon fairies made everything work out this time, doesn't mean they can always do that.  I don't think she heard me.

So the life lessons didn't go quite the way I had planned.  I'm not sure if she learned anything this time, but I did.  I learned that I have a daughter who is resourceful and determined and doesn't settle for anything.  Those are great qualities that I'm sure will transfer into other great things in her life, bigger even than the miracle of an iPhone.  I learned that it's better not to be too overly delighted when your children experience challenges in their lives.   Although I would like them to learn all the hard ones while in the comfort and protection of this house, it's probably not going to work out that way.  And I learned that it's better just to celebrate with them when great things happen, and be available to pick up some pieces when they don't.      

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