Cell Phone Contracts. Do This for Your Child.


The Evil Spawn doesn’t have a phone.               Cell Phone Contracts for Your Child.

She has two parents who work, eat, and sleep technology but she doesn’t have a phone.

Why?

One, she doesn’t have a job.  So how would she pay for it?

Two, she is twelve going on thirteen going on forty, but up to this point her parents (mainly mom… and mom is always right) don’t think she is emotionally ready for a phone.

Sure, she would know the technology portion forwards and backwards, but we weren’t sure if she was ready with the emotional responsibility that comes with putting a computer in her pocket.

There are mean people everywhere, but owning a phone just gives them more access to our kid.

It’s a big world out there and we weren’t sure if she was ready to carry it around in her back pocket.

Lastly, our daughter goes from home to school.  School to home.  There are phones available everywhere she is located.

I’m not one of the parents who believe my child will always be safe and never in danger just because she has a phone.

Do phones help with safety?  Maybe. 

But mostly they are status symbols that occassionaly make the child’s and parent’s lives a little less hectic.

In 2014, cell phones (and all technology) is wonderful.  I wouldn’t want to be without it.

But I also don’t want my daughter growing up in a world in which that’s all she knows.

One day she will have a phone.  Probably a very nice phone.

And we will pay for it.  She can pay us back once that job I spend every day dreaming about comes her way.

And when she gets this phone, it will come with rules.

My money.  My rules.

I will start with these 18 from Janell Burley Hofmann.  She’s a genius.  And a good mom.

An open letter to her son Gregory on her blog:

"Merry Christmas!  You are now the proud owner of an iPhone.  Hot Damn!  You are a good and responsible 13 year old  boy and you deserve this gift.  But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations.  Please read through the following contract.  I hope you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it.  Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.

I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

1.  It is my phone.  I bought it.  I pay for it.  I am loaning it to you.  Aren’t I the greatest?

2.  I will always know the password.

3.  If it rings, answer it.  It is a phone.  Say hello, use your manners.  Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads "Mom" or "Dad".  Not ever.

4.  Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 pm every school night and every weekend night at 9:00 pm.  It will be shut off for the night and not turned on again at 7:30 am.  If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.  Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

5.  It does not go to school with you.  Have a conversation with the people you text in person.  It’s a life skill.  *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.

6.  If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes in thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.  Mow a lawn, baby sit, stash some birthday money.  It will happen, you should be prepared.

7.  Do not use technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others.  Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

8.  Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

9.  Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room.  Censor yourself.

10.  No porn.  Search the web for information you would openly share with me.  If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.

11.  Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public.  Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being.  You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

12.  Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts.  Don’t laugh.  Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence.  It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life.  It is always a bad idea.  Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.  And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.

13.  Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos.  There is no need to document everything.  Live your experiences.  They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

14.  Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision.  It is not alive or an extension of you.  Learn to live without it.  Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.

15.  Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff.  Your generation has access to music like never before in history.  Take advantage of that gift.  Expand your horizons.

16.  Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

17.  Keep your eyes up.  See the world happening around you.  Stare out a window.  Listen to the birds.  Take a walk.  Talk to a stranger.  Wonder without Googling.

18.  You will mess up.  I will take away your phone.  We will sit down and talk about it.  We will start over again.  You and I, we are always learning.  I am on your team.  We are in this together.  It is my hope that you can agree to these terms.  Most of the lessons listed here do not apply to the iPhone, but to life.  You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world.  It is exciting and enticing.  Keep it simple every chance you get.  Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine.  I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.  Merry Christmas!

xoxoxoxo
Mom"

 


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QR Code Birthday Cake.


The Evil Spawn just turned 12.Happy Birthday Ashton.

She’s a nerd and I use this term with respect.

She’s a great nerd (she prefers geek).

For her birthday, she wanted a QR code cake and a QR coded scavenger hunt that led her and her friends all over town.

They went to all of her old haunts.  From her first babysitter to the dentist’s office where she lost her first tooth. 

The clues led them to the grocery store where they had to figure out how much money we have spent on Buddy the Dog’s food in the last four years.

They even visited their 2nd grade teacher where they had to recall the order of the planets from their very first big school project and recite them to her in order (funny what they forget).

They had a blast even though they have evidently forgotten everything they learned in 2nd grade.

It’s good to have a school technology coordinator as a mom.

Go ahead, scan the cake with your reader.  It works.

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Apple Has What You Need. Even Before You Know It.


Apple Has It Figured Out.The Evil Spawn gets my technology hand me downs.

This is good for both of us.  She gets something new and I get something brand-new.

She is generally very appreciative but she would prefer the newest and latest Apple products.

She has my old iPad.  She has a very early version of the iPod (squirrels run it).

Evidently, these are no longer cutting it.

She wants to upgrade. 

Why?

Because she says she’s the proud owner of iCrap.

iCrap?

Yes, she says old is iCrap.

She is the perfect age to be Apple’s perfect customer.

She’s grown up on Apple.  She doesn’t remember Dell, Commodore, or Mattel (classics my friends… classics).

She’s a loyal customer.

Very loyal.  She drinks the Apple Kool-Aide.

She doesn’t question them.  If they make it, she needs it.

They have the perfect business model.  Apple doesn’t make products to fill demand.

They create products to fill needs we didn’t even know we had.

Who knew we couldn’t live a productive civilized life without iPads, iPods, and Mini iThings?

They did.  And now she does.

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Bad Grade. Bad Dad. Bad Deal.


Here is the deal.Bad Grade.  Bad Dad.

Raising a teenager (preteen… criminal… whatever) is a lot of work.

Being employed in the same school building as the above mentioned teenager/nut job is fun.

And a complete total nightmare.

Here’s why.

Our school district has a new student managment system. This allows parents to track their children’s grades on a daily basis.

Or in my case, a fourteen times a day basis.

Our school district also employs the Tech Queen of our house as the official technology grunt (if you are a technology grunt you will know exactly what I mean… and you should stop reading this blog and get back to the list of 1,014 things you need to get done by tomorrow that should have been done three months ago).

This week all of this nearly collided in a confusing ordeal I like to call "I’m Going to Her Classroom and Punch Her in the Throat!".

Now, I know violence is never the answer.

But to review, she’s a teenager.  Or at least is headed down that awful path.

My troubles (and hers) started when the Tech Grunt was sitting at her desk surrounded by roughly 14 people with questions and 6 computers.

Basically, her area of the school looks exactly like the control room at NASA.

If they had more computers.

Turns out she was having trouble with the new student management program, so much to my surprise big changes were on the way.

Meanwhile, in the actual control center of the school district (my office… which isn’t really in control of anything, but I like to think we are) I was checking the Evil Spawn’s grades.

When I logged on I immediately saw she had flunked a test.

Much to her surprise, the superintendent was about to storm into her classroom and read her the riot act as she sat quietly at her desk reading a book and dreaming of a day when the annoying superintendent would no longer be working in the same building in which she attends school.

I really do know my behavior isn’t approriate, but come on… an F on a test?

We can’t have this.

At least we can’t if she’s going to continue to live in my house and eat all of my food and enjoy the 5,000 TV stations I provide for her.

Plus, she can’t get into vet school and support her elderly parents if she can’t pass 6th Grade Literature.

As fate would have it, she didn’t really flunk this test (but there will be others… and mark my word I will be there to haunt her).

The Tech Grunt had gone in and manually added this "test" grade because she was working on the new system and needed a guninnea pig student with a bad grade.  Notice how I misunderstood the word "test".

So to review, the grade (test…fake…whatever) was added, I was angry (and clueless), the Evil Spawn was in danger of not living to enjoy pepperoni pizza at lunch (which isn’t bad by the way), and the Tech Grunt was disgusted by my anger directed towards what up to this point has been a very nice little girl.

I may need a new job.

Or counseling.

Or at least a heads up on what are real bad grades and fakes ones.

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Two Full-Time Jobs is Two Too Many.


For the last month or so, I have been largely absent from this blog (sure I’ve posted the occassional video that interested me or made me laugh until I nearly wet myself).It's a Delicate Balance.

I’ve gotten a few emails asking why.

Well, at my age you get to laughing really hard and before you know it you’ve accidently….

Oh, you were wondering why I haven’t blogged more.

My bad.

There are a couple of possible reasons.

One is I always promised myself when I ran out of things to say and I started to struggle with what to write, I would stop immediately and blow the blog up.

That day is not yet here.  But I hope it’s soon because I do enjoy an explosion.

The real reason I haven’t been around is I’ve been a bunch of other places.

School.  Home.  Game.  School.  Home.  Game.  School.  Home.  Game.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention sleep.

In the world of school administration, late July and early August are busy.

Really busy.

This has been compounded by the world of Teenage Evil Spawn (I miss carefree Little Girl Evil Spawn… although I was not a huge fan of Baby Evil Spawn).

Her world is busy.  Really busy.

When she was born, I don’t recall the doctor telling us how incredibly time-consuming and expensive her existence would become after the age of 10.

Actually, the only thing I remember the doctor saying is "Don’t worry, she won’t break."

So far, so good but there have been a couple of close calls where she cracked.

What I have learned as a parent is children require a lot of attention

Games, clubs, events, church, parties, school, 4-H, friends, sleepovers, movies, camps…. the list could go on and on.

Basically, my role in all this is to be there.  Or get her where she needs to be.

I’m like Secret Service without the ability to talk into my wrist.

My parent job isn’t brain surgery, but it does cut into my "Me" time (and it is all about me…).

All of this doesn’t sound too taxing, but it does eat up time like nobody’s business (actually it’s my business and it used to be my time).

This coupled with my day job as a school superintendent, has forced me to put the blog on the back burner this summer.

But like most years, summer is winding down so I’m sure my schedule will slow down.

I’m not sure what this says about our society when I know my schedule will be easier once my full-time job picks up again and I’m working 60 hour weeks.

But I sure am looking forward to it!

Have a good school year.

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Let Me Tell You a Little Story About the Grossest Hotel Room Ever.


Actually, it’s not a story about a seedy hotel, but that doesn’t matter.Much Cleaner.  I Mean Much Cleaner.

You are here for the gross part and I’m not about to disappoint.

Let me start at the beginning.

The Evil Spawn was wrapping up her summer season of softball, so we had one final trip. 

I say summer season, because next year starts in about 8 minutes because June 2013 is just around the corner and we’ve got to get these girls practicing (sarcasm alert!).

Since we had this one last tournament and we were tired of living in No Tell Motels, we had the ingenious idea to rent a house.

It would be fun.

It would be close to Lake Michigan.

The whole family together.

It would be like a vacation, except for the fact that 14 hours a day we would be sitting in lawn chairs at some faceless softball field in 197 degree heat.

Actually, it’s fun.  Except for the part where your underwear starts sweating.  I hate that.

One would think a person’s underwear would dry out in extreme heat, but it’s just the opposite.

But, I digress.  We rent this house and it seems like a great idea.

I probably wouldn’t have done this 10 years ago, but now with the interweb it’s just so simple.

Pictures online.  Reviews by other God fearing kind-hearted folks.

What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out a lot.

The pictures didn’t exactly reflect the level of disgusting that wrapped itself around the house like a thick winter coat on a chubby 4-year old.

Turns out people who rent their homes for money don’t use the word "filthy" or the phrase "should be condemened" when they are trying to make a buck.

I should have realized we had a problem when cockroaches met us at the front door.  And they were on their way out.

The look on my wife’s face as she was sentenced… I mean walked in to this rental property was disturbing.  She looked like a teenage girl in a horror movie when the phone rings and the call is coming from inside the house.

She was scared.  And rightfully so.

The highlights were as follows:  old food in the refrigerator, a mysterious hair attached to the TV remote, enough trash hidden under the raised cabinets to start your own dump, and a cat in the corner of the bedroom.

Actually, it wasn’t a cat.

It was a dust bunny in the shape of a 47 pound cat.  I swear it growled at me when I reached down to pet it.

I was afraid to turn on the lights.  Not because I didn’t want to see more dirt, but because I was frightened to touch the light switch.  There was a layer of something on it that reminded me of a petri dish.

I could go on and on, but it gives me the willies and I feel like I need to save part of this story for my therapist.

And as a favor to all of my loyal readers, I’m not even going to tell you my theory on the mystery hair.

My wife tried in vain to find a hotel room for us to stay in, but they were all booked.  Turns out Priceline and William Shatner couldn’t save me on this night.

So I went with Plan B.

I slept in my clothes.

I did survive the night, but then I had to use the restroom and shower.

Honestly, in my 44 years on this Earth, I don’t recall feeling dirtier after a shower than before.  And I grew up in an era where you showered after high school PE.

Something positive did come out of this experience (besides the partial refund).

I have a whole new respect for my wife’s fear of portapotties (she can’t be the only one who would rather explode than take one step into these plastic boxes of infection).

Actually, now that I think about it, I would have been better off sleeping in a portapotty.

As an added bonus it was our wedding anniversary.

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Life in a Sentence.


The Evil Spawn did something wrong.It's Always Someone Else's Fault.

I point it out, nicely and politely (it’s my story… so I was very nice and very polite).

She says "It’s your fault."

I said "But you did it."

She responds "I know.  It’s just no fun blaming yourself."

And that my friends sums up society as we know it.

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Youth Sports Spelled Backward is Stressful.


Or maybe it’s stropshtuoy.Stress Makes Me Old.  Older.

No matter how it’s spelled, it’s way more stressful than I ever imagined.

I coached for a long time.

Some people would say way too long (by some… I mean all).

As a school administrator, I’ve had to throw my share of over-zealous parents out of games for griping at the referees and coaches.

Or both (and honestly, if you’re about to be tossed out of a gymnasium in front of your peers you might as well yell at everyone).

My assumption was these people were insane.

Who gets so caught up in a child’s game that they have to be removed by a mild-manner kind-hearted person like me?

I was wrong.  We are all insane.

At least when it comes to watching our kids.

It’s in our genes (in my first draft I spelled this "jeans" which is actually funnier).

It’s easy to lose perspective when your child loses.  Or fails.  Or doesn’t get to play.

I’ve known for a long time that The Evil Spawn’s childhood would not go smoothly.

I anticipated visits from the local police.  Long chats with the District Attorney.

Neck tattoos.  Numerous piercings.  Fake IDs.  Boyfriends 35 years older than her.

I knew there would be late night car chases.  Liquor store robberies.  And various other crimes that I hoped would always be misdemeanors.

After all, what kind of father would I be if my only daughter was committing felonies?

What I didn’t count on was the pain and suffering of watching her grow up and being effected by the decisions of other adults (not in law enforcement).

Coaches.  Umpires.

Evil, evil people.

No one told me at the hospital when she was hatched, how challenging this time of her life could be.

I had no idea the pain and suffering one has to go through while sitting in a lawn chair watching her attempt to hit a softball (by the way… there is NO WAY that first pitch was a strike!!!).

Life is bound to get simplier when she is 16.  Or 17.  Or 18.

It will won’t it?

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Easter Bunny Stopped By. Streak Continues.


Another holiday. 

Another acknowledgement to all that is good in the world.No One is More Surprised Than Me.

Our floppy eared friend showed up.  And she cleaned up.

The Evil Spawn continues to believe.

I sensed a slight hesitation, but not a word was said.

This would be year number 11 if you are keeping score at home.

This process has lasted longer than I ever could have imagined.

Only 260 days until Christmas.

Will she make it?

I hope so.  Because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

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My School Tested for a TV Pilot.


This blog has given me a lot of unexpected benefits.Sadly, I Remember TV's Like This.

Free trips.  Fame for Buddy the Dog.  A cool nickname for the Evil Spawn.

The occasional free t-shirt (maybe the greatest benefit of all).

But this week may have been the oddest experience of all and I have this mediocre blog to thank for it (or blame).

My school interviewed for a TV show.

Yes, a TV reality show.

This goes against everything I hold sacred and pure.

I am the last remaining person in America who does not want to be on television.

I’ve never understood why people feel the need to be on tv.  I find the need for fame a little disturbing.

People (especially young adults) seem willing to do anything and everything to get themselves on television.

I don’t get it, but realize I’m probably in the minority.

But as luck (good and bad) would have it, people seem to stumble upon me when they Google for educators.

A production company did just that a couple of weeks ago.

They contacted me and asked if we would be interested to going through some pre-interviews with the possibility of being on a reality show about high schools.

My first thought… of course not.  What type of idiot wants to be on tv?

But then I thought, what the heck.  Maybe this is my entry into movies. 

Or maybe even better.  Maybe, just maybe, my dream of remaking Three’s Company will actually happen (if you are under 40… click the link).

So several members of our staff were interviewed by producers.

And it was odd.

Really odd.

There is no chance they will be making a tv show about us.

Why?

I think we are way too normal.  And we are far from normal.

But "reality" tv is exactly what I expected.  I don’t think it is "real" at all.

I think they want people who they can mold in to characters.

They are looking for big personalities that can be encouraged to be even bigger on tv.

I’m okay with that.  I’m just not that.  And my school isn’t that.

I still think there is a tv show about schools that needs to be made.

But it’s not about fights.  Or gangs.  Or wacky teachers.

It’s about good students.  And committed teachers.  And all the good things that happen in schools every day in small towns all across this country.

It would be about kids and families who are doing the right thing in a world that gets more complicated by the day.

I would watch this.  But once again, I realize I’m in the minority.

One benefit to not getting a TV Pilot… I now consider myself an out of work actor.  So if you need me, I will be waiting tables at Applebees’s.

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.