By now, The Zone blogosphere is well aware of the ongoing dilemma about what to do with Wizard this summer and the problems with his attitude. By the time WineGuy decided that Wizard could, in fact, go away to camp, it was too late. There were no spaces (or time) left in the first camp session of the summer.
After Wizard sat home and watched television for an entire day — and did some of his summer homework — WineGuy offered to let Wizard work in WG’s office.* The billing and records manager (BRM) has an ongoing project that always needs students to scan charts and input data. Wizard worked a few days in the last ten and was very happy doing so. He was out of the house, working with adults, and most importantly, earning money. In fact, Wizard calculated exactly how many hours he would have to work in order to earn enough money to buy a laptop computer.
As Wizard figured it, he would work full-time for the remainder of the summer to earn all the money. But there were several problems with that plan: (a) BRM does not have enough office space to bring in all the boxes Wizard would need to keep him busy on a daily basis. He works fast, and the rest of the staff has to catch up. BRM could use him three half- to full-days a week; (b) Wizard is a kid and needs to learn how to get along better with kids his own age; (c) Wizard is a kid and should be doing fun things during a school vacation; and (d) Wizard never asked WineGuy or me for permission to have a laptop.
Which brings me to the crux of this post: At what age should a child have his own computer? At what age is it OK for a child to have unfettered, 24/7 access to the Internet?
WineGuy and I do not think that age is 12. Wizard vehemently disagrees. Wizard thinks he needs his own computer to use as a toy (to amuse himself) and for schoolwork and that we could just take it away from him if he doesn’t do his work. He complains that his brothers have so many toys, and he has none. Not true. He whines that the only thing he likes to do are computer games. Not true: he likes to read, play board games, play lacrosse, and watch television. Wizard claims all his classmates have their own computers and some even have their own laptops. Well, he has access to a computer, but I password-protected his and his brothers’ accounts because they fought over whose turn it was. Each child lingers far too long when it’s his turn. Wizard particularly never logs off when he’s told to; we have to hound him for minutes and minutes after his time is up. We (I) have to supervise Wizard closely when he’s working on a school assignment on the computer because he’ll spend an inordinate amount of time surfing the Web for information — and probably plagiarizing it — instead of creating his own work. Every single one of his teachers found him doing this in his or her class last year.
No self-discipline is the major argument against Wizard having his own computer. Irresponsibility is another major argument. Wizard has lost 2-3 watches in the last several years, including a very nice Citizen watch he received from my parents for Chanukah one year. Lost! Poof! Gone with the wind. Wizard loses textbooks, notebooks, and calculators on a regular basis. He leaves a trail behind himself like Pigpen. Wizard leaves pens, pencils, napkins, and assorted trash in his pockets. He doesn’t take care of his laundry until it’s a crisis.
My last major argument is immaturity. Wizard will turn 12 this weekend. He is one of the youngest in his class. Although we haven’t yet had “the talk” with him, I imagine he has a pretty good understanding of sexuality. I don’t think he’s emotionally ready to be exposed to all that is graphic and crude on the Internet. He may think he’s grown up and he may look mature, but inside really Wizard is still a child. He is moody and petulant and spoiled. He needs to mature and learn how to control his mouth and his anger. He is so much like I was as a teenager.
If you’ve read this far, I need to hear your feedback.
*Florida child labor laws have an exemption allowing an underage minor to work for a parent for pay as long as it’s not during normal school hours.