Yesterday the Blackberry that we had gotten for my son for Chanukah as an upgrade arrived. My son called Sprint to have the phone activated. At some point in the call the man who was helping him asked to speak to me to tell me about the $30 a month Blackberry fee. I hesitated at first but then told him it was fine after he told me that I had 30 days to return the phone.
About 10 minutes later I realized that $30 a month meant that over the next 2 years we would be spending $720 on his monthly Blackberry service. The thing that's so ridiculous about this is that both my husband and I have Blackberries so we should have been aware of this fact when we decided that we would get Z this phone. I started to think about how we could deal with this problem. It's really hard to give up a gift that was given to you but it was clear to me that he could not straight out have this phone, no strings attached.
When I mentioned to Z that I was not sure that he was going to be able to keep the phone I was prepared for him to get very upset. He was definitely disappointed but it was clear to him that $720 was a lot of money. He did offer to work for my husband to help pay for the phone which was very sweet but I was not sure that there was anything that he could do to help his dad at work. I know that if he could Z would happily get a job to help pay for the phone but the truth is there are not that many jobs out there that a 12 year old can do. (I also think that this would not be the best use of any money he earned)
The other option was to use the Blackberry as incentive to get him to do something. My first though was that maybe he could take the garbage and recycling out each day but I feel that kids should help around the house because it's something that all the members of a family need to do. I don't like the thought that his helping out was contingent on something. (he already has "chores" that he does with out any contingencies)
My husband was out with a friend so I knew that I had to wait till the next morning until we could figure out what to do. Later that evening Z came to me and told me that he understood why he could not keep the Blackberry. He told me that he would be willing to return the phone and get one of the phones that would have a free upgrade and no additional monthly fee but he also wanted to get a new ipod. This was an interesting negotiating tactic. His old ipod had been washed by mistake when he had left it in his pants pocket. Josh and I decided that we were not going to buy him a new one because we thought it was important that he learned to take care of his stuff. We gave Z J's old ipod so he would not be with out his beloved music.
I have felt a little guilty about the ipod since I was the one who washed his pants. There was a part of me who felt like maybe I should have been more careful. It was also the second one of his ipod I washed. A few years earlier while cleaning for Pesach I washed his knapsack. I forgot to check one of the pockets and washed his ipod by mistake. (I also washed his phone once but it was a magic phone and still worked after it was washed!) This strategy worked well for him because it tied into my guilt. I thought it was a great idea. Z was going to willingly give up his Blackberry and all it would cost would me was $50. (That was a $670 savings).
The next morning I told J about Z's proposal He also thought it was a great idea and a shrewed negotiating tactic. Z's new ipod should be here by next week.