[This is Emilia. She turns 12 next week. She is awesome]

When to buy the Phone?!?

My oldest daughter Emilia turns 12 next week, as we inch ever closer toward the teenage years. For her birthday, she asked for two things.

#1 – The best steak in town.
#2 – A phone. Not a hand-me-down phone but an awesome new phone.


I’m excited about the steak part. This originated from our travels in Thailand last winter. Emilia seemed to always gravitate to the most expensive thing on the menu when we were eating out. Her eyes were always immediately drawn to the $30 steak, as opposed to the $3 chicken nuggets. (The answer was always no.)

This became a constant source of tension between us, until finally when I was able to articulate why I was saying no. (See above price of steak).

Eventually, we struck a deal. In exchange for eating cheaper on our travels, I would reward her with the best steak in Boise for her birthday. We’ll go all out and spare no expense, I told her. But she had to stop looking for the most expensive item on the menu at every meal and instead order reasonably and frugally like the rest of us. She happily agreed to those terms.

The best steak in town is quite a debatable subject. I’m sure many of you have your strong opinions on the matter. But for me, the choice is as much about the experience as it is the steak. So we are taking her to Barbacoa. She has never been there. The unique environment and wild décor will be perfect, plus they do the hot rock steak that cooks right in front of you. I know that will be a home run as far as impressing her. All four of us are looking forward to the evening.

However, I’m not looking forward to the phone. Amanda and I decided years ago when our kids were little that they could never “play” with our phones. It wasn’t that we were against them being on devices, it was that we were strictly against them being on our devices.

Amanda and I both conduct a lot of business through our phones, so we’ve been consistent with this rule since they were toddlers. Hence, they never ask to play on our phones, nor have they ever picked them up.

Emilia has proven to be a pretty responsible kid. We gave her a hand-me-down phone that barely works a while back. Primarily so we had a way to contact her for emergencies and other unique circumstances.

Emilia has earned greater accountability with a phone. She is still like any other kid and she can spend too much time staring at a screen. But she stops when we ask her to without too much fuss.

Still. I’m dragging my feet. I assume I’ll feel the same when she is old enough to get a driver’s license.

Amanda and I discussed it last night. We’re moving forward with the phone purchase. We’ll hand it over at the steak dinner. But we made a list of operational rules, policies, and consequences with which she must agree before accepting the gift.

Maybe I’m taking some of the fun out of it, but I’m a Dad, so that’s part of my job, right? With great electronics comes great responsibility. That’s a saying, right?

I’m fairly confident that Emilia will handle this increased responsibility well. As far as the teenage years that are just around the corner, the driver’s license and all that will come with it, well, let’s just take this one step at a time.