Practical Dad

Plan 9 from the Kitchen

Cell phones can be wonderful tools, but several other parents and I have noted they can be impediments when in the hands of teens.  The problem that we've all noted is that while the kids can be in almost instantaneous communication with one another to plan something, anyone's different thought, idea or issue is immediately brought up to the cell-linked hive mind and innumerable alternative plans are spun to the point that ultimately, either nothing occurs or what happens in no way resembles the original plan.  Not to say that the "old days" were necessarily better, but with only one line to a house and the pain-in-the-neck nature of plan changes, a plan that was generally agreed upon was maintained. 

The term Plan 9 or Plan I came into being in this household when several months ago, I watched Eldest run the gamut in the kitchen.  My wife and I were puttering in the kitchen when Eldest entered and announced that she and several friends were going to gather for something or another.  Shortly after she entered, her cellphone noted an incoming text and when she read it, she reported that somebody had asked if someone else could come - and naturally, that led to the question of how the newb would be transported and who could do so.  As she plunked in a response to the hive-mind, I glanced at my wife and commented that this was going to be Plan B.  Eldest finished her texting and was in the process of putting down the phone when another came in with someone else tossing out a question, which led to another furious round of texting and a quietly dry Plan C commented to my wife.  By now, there was a full-fledged exchange of texts from the hive-mind and my wife and I slowed down to watch the process.  I was now standing at the kitchen island nursing a cup of coffee and as Eldest would remark upon the newest response, I'd remark that this was Plan D...wait, now here comes Plan E...whoa, someone else has some input for - wait for it - Plan F...nah, that's not gonna work so we're onto Plan G...okay, so it looks like we're set for Plan H...nope, Plan I.  My wife handled it more gracefully than me since I was openly laughing as I remarked upon this trainwreck of a social gathering.  Eldest finally harrumphed with a nasty glance in my direction and left the kitchen and to this day, I don't know if they managed to round the bases to Plan Z. 

The upshot of this is that first, Eldest frequently makes her hive-mind plans out of my presence.  Second, we've learned that there are liable to be changes in the plans between when they're made and when the car leaves the driveway.  Knowing that the hive tries desperately to bend to the needs of the members, changes can occur and our request is that we apprised of significant changes, such as final destination or time of return; we also reserve the right to veto anything that we deem necessary and yes, I've kept the prospect of a physical location check on the table. 

When a teenager leaves the house with friends, you can never be certain of where they're actually going to wind up or what the final plan is.  Especially with this hive-mind generation, plans seem to change in a heartbeat and you can only lean upon faith and what you've taught them as you've raised them; that there are such things as respect, limits, consequences and ultimately, right-and-wrong.  There can be legitimate changes in plans that entail acceptable deviation and it's our job as parents to work with that.  But ultimately, they need to know that the cellphone connects to home and once that call is made, the constant changes will stop and gel into a firm plan for the remainder of the gathering.

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