I actually did it. I had been threatening to do it for a while but I finally removed my oldest son from our family’s phone plan. Before you judge me, let me explain what happened.
My older two sons can be capricious with the data usage on our phone plan. Most months we are well within our allotted data on the last day of our billing cycle, however, some months we (meaning they) go over. The excuses vary; their Wi-Fi wasn’t working correctly, or they were streaming videos or the data monster came and sucked up all their data. Who knows? But, it makes me crazy. Lest you suggest that I get an unlimited phone plan I must state we have a pretty ample data allotment that I feel should be enough for the four of us (my husband is on a different plan through work). The unlimited plan would cost more than I am willing to pay. Everyone has something that gets under their skin and, for me, it’s data overage charges. I don’t mind spending money on things I think are worthwhile, but I don’t like throwing money away.
Last week we were all in Florida and when we got home I got the dreaded text from Verizon saying we had used up 90 percent of our data with 16 days left in our billing cycle. Although I am not a great mathematician, I realized that we were not going to make it and we would be charged for overage this month. Before I could text my sons, my oldest son (who was the data culprit this time) texted me two words, “uh oh.” He knew he would be hearing from me and thought he was being funny by beating me to the punch. I would have preferred to see the words, “I’m sorry,” or, “my bad,” either of which would have diffused my anger rather than stoking it. I would have loved to see some indication of culpability and remorse.
My son who is 25, lives in Manhattan and is an attorney at a large law firm. This information is relevant because he is old enough to have his own phone plan and he is financially able to have his own plan. We paid for his education and helped him get set up in his first apartment. So why do I feel so guilty? After I got his “uh-oh” text I called Verizon to have him removed from our plan and told him in no uncertain terms that he was out. He seemed to take it well and even confirmed that his law firm would pay for the data portion of his bill. So, it would seem that all was well but when I received the email from Verizon confirming that, “your service transfer request is complete,” I felt like the world’s worst mother.
In my rational mind I realize that I threw him off the family phone/data plan and not out of our family, and I know he realizes that as well. But it seemed like a momentous occasion, one that propelled him further away from us and one step closer to complete autonomy. The phone plan had become another sort of umbilical cord, tethering our child to us. Family plans are illustrative of this generation’s reticence to let go. Is it our fault or theirs; perhaps everyone shares a piece of the blame.
So far, my relationship with my son seems none the worse for wear. He texted me last night asking me for advice regarding a new apartment he’s considering.
I feel better already.
Marlene Kern Fischer is a wife, mother of three sons, food shopper extraordinaire, blogger and college essay editor. She attended Brandeis University, from which she graduated cum laude with a degree in literature. In addition to Grown and Flown, her work has been featured on CollegiateParent, Parent Co., Kveller, Her View From Home, Beyond Your Blog, MockMom, the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Better After 50, and The SITS Girls.
You can read more of Marlene’s work on her site, Thoughts From Aisle 4