This is Number 3’s phone.
I’ll get to the significance of the photo in a minute.
First, it’s important to know a few things.
Number 3 is in 8th grade, and he just got his first phone about two months ago.
I believe he may have actually been the last person in his grade to get one. I held out until he went on the 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. this past March.
He mainly uses his phone to text his friends and watch stuff on YouTube — mostly swimming vlogs, UFC stuff, and a few podcasts. He’s not really that in to social media.
He does take the phone to school with him.
Middle schoolers are allowed to have their phones in school in our town. That is a whole different issue, and one that I don’t agree with.
But that’s a topic for a completely different blog post.
I suppose I could forbid him from taking the phone to school. But there are battles I am willing to fight right now, and that is not one of them.
Number 3 has a free period every day at school. It’s called ELT — Extended Learning Time.
Basically what we called study halls back in the day.
This is a time for kids to get extra help from teachers. I think kids who are in chorus or band meet during this time.
If you aren’t in chorus or band then some teachers require kids to read during ELT. Other teachers will let the kids do their homework.
Number 3 has a teacher who allows him to work on his homework during this time.
But since he got a phone, he’s been spending most of his ELT time on that.
And he had an aha moment yesterday.
Yesterday Number 3 brought his phone to school, but he put it in a different pocket of his backpack than he normally does when he left the house in the morning.
And he didn’t remember that. So he thought he left his phone at home.
Since he thought he left his phone at home, rather than wasting all his valuable time screwing around on his phone, Number 3 spent his ELT time working on his homework.
And he got all of it done before he came home.
Number 3 has a pretty busy schedule right now.
He joined the middle school track team which practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 to 4:00.
He has swim practice every day after school, and he has to leave between 4:15 and 4:30 to get there, and he gets home around 8:30.
So he doesn’t have a whole lot of time after school on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and he doesn’t really have any on Tuesday and Thursday.
But doing all of his homework at school gave him some free time before he had to leave for swim practice.
And he liked that.
Every night by 9:30, Number 3 has to put his phone in my office. That’s the rule.
Then he gets it in the morning after he wakes up.
This morning I happened to be doing something on the computer with his phone charging right in front of me, and I asked him if he wanted it.
“NO!” he said to me.
“You don’t?” I asked.
“Yesterday I forgot I had it and I got ALL of my homework done. If I bring it to school I’m just going to waste time on it. So I’m going to leave it at home.”
I was floored!!!
And I was super happy that instead of engaging in a power struggle over the phone or lecturing him about how he was wasting lots of valuable time on it, he figured this out all on his own.
The message and lesson is so much more powerful that way.
I have to admit that I NEVER thought he’d come to this realization on his own and then have the self control and discipline to actually leave the phone here.
But he did.
And I have no idea how he’s gonna ultimately turn out.
But as I sit here looking at his phone left voluntarily in front of me,
at least I know that today he took one giant step in the right direction.