The Tale of A Cracked iPhone…And A Very Angry Mom

November 15, 2012 in Parenting,Teenagers

The Cracked iPhone

Here’s what happened: Middle Dude cracked the glass on his iPhone. It was an accident, sort of.  Let’s see, where do I begin?

Maybe with the fact that the friggin’ phone was a mere two months old.  Or, maybe that I never, ever should have bought an iPhone for a 7th grader.  I’m not even sure how I let that happen.  His first cell phone was lost, after he let some “friends” screw around with it, with all of them denying they had it.  My son was left with the battery and the back cover of the phone.  The phone itself never materialized, even after my son tried to retrieve it from the “friend.” I did not replace that phone right away, but made him suffer phone-less for several months as a consequence of his carelessness.

When he was due for an upgrade, we went to the store and he begged for a smartphone.  I was amazed at how limited the options were for plain old phones now.  Verizon had maybe five models of regular phones on display and the rest of the store was filled with smartphones.  In my warped mind, I decided that everyone has smartphones now, and if Middle Dude was going to get a smartphone, of course it would be an iPhone.  We are Apple devotees – we’ve got everything from the iPad to the MacBook Pro to the big ol desktop, and the big daddy of them all – Apple TV.  We are all Apple, all the time.  Miraculously, my husband agreed to a smartphone, so that night we ordered the iPhone 4 online from Verizon because it was a mere $99 as the iPhone 5 was weeks away from being released.  My son was bummed he was not going to be able to talk to Siri on his phone, or that he couldn’t brag to his friends that he had the new “5”, but still, he was pretty psyched to have his very own iPhone.

Meanwhile, Big Dude, 2 ½ years older than Middle Dude, still had his plain old Samsung phone, but that suited him just fine.  He rarely sent texts or called people.  His cell phone was usually stored in the bowels of his backpack.  He could care less that his younger brother was getting a new iPhone.  One time we bought Big Dude an iTouch as a present and he asked that we return it.  No interest whatsoever. Plus, he had already lost his phone twice, so there was no way I was putting an iPhone in his forgetful hands.

Conversely, my twisted brain justified that this was the right decision for my 12-year old, who was mature and responsible and who constantly sent texts and used his phone to the full extent.  I insanely convinced myself that Middle Dude NEEDED an iPhone if we were going the smartphone route. For the first two months, he took care of it pretty well.  Occasionally, he’d forget where he placed it in the house or forgot to put it in his backpack before school, but for the most part, he was a good caretaker for his iPhone.

Until a few days ago.

I met him on the sidewalk walking home from school and he was tossing his phone in the air and catching it.

“Don’t do that, you could drop it,” I warned.

To prove me wrong, he tossed it higher…and caught it.

“Please stop that, it’s going to break,” I warned again as I raised my voice.

He tossed it waaayy higher, and you can guess what happened next.  The phone slipped through his fingers and it crashed onto the sidewalk. When he picked it up, the screen was shattered.  He was lucky we were in public, right outside a local store where all of his school buddies were buying snacks.  Had we been at home, I can only imagine the string of obscenities and screaming that would have spewed from my mouth.  Instead, I said in halting breaths, with the utmost control:

I. Cannot. Believe. You. Just. Did. That.

I repeated that phrase over and over, to keep my surging anger in check. The fact that he defied me was infuriating.  He of course felt miserable about what he had done.

I know what you’re thinking.  Phone insurance!  Yes, of course we have insurance on the phones for our two accidental-prone dudes.  While Big Dude’s cheap-o Samsung phone can be replaced for an easy $45, the iPhone is a whole different ballgame.  $169.99 to replace a lost or damaged phone.  The cheapest alternative I could find is to take the phone to Radio Shack where they will replace the cracked glass for $99.  A little more palatable, but still, it’s an outdated iPhone 4!

We haven’t decided what we are going to do yet. We do know he needs a phone, as he walks home from school and I want to be able to reach him at all times, though clearly he doesn’t necessarily need an iPhone. We do know he will NEVER toss any phone in the air again. He has pleaded with us to replace the glass and he will pay for it out of his bank account, which has a few hundred dollars in it from birthday monies.  But, we don’t want him to get off that easy.  He has to earn a phone back.  That means lots and lots of chores around the house.  This could actually be fun (for me).  Middle Dude will definitely feel the consequences of his actions and learn a lesson.  In the meantime, he is using his cracked iPhone.  Yes, it still works. I just hope he doesn’t cut himself on the shattered glass while texting his friends.

I can’t help but berate myself for buying my 12-year old an iPhone in the first place. What was I thinking? I know it was a bad parental move, so I know that both Middle Dude and I have learned our own lessons.

What would you do about the damaged phone?

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Janine Huldie November 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Emily, this is my worst fear, when my kids realize they need a phone. As it is Lily calls my iPhone hers! and we too are a family of Apple freaks, lol. So, I could totally relate to you on that. If they could fix the screen, I would probably say go for that, because at least you can save a few dollars (I know not much, but still something).


ohboymom November 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Thanks Janine, yes my younger one uses my phone all the time. My son has loaded all kinds of apps onto my phone too! I’d say hold out as long as you can until you gift your girls with their own phone..although girls are probably more careful with that kind of stuff than boys…


Stacy Harris November 15, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Your kid is sure lucky he was in public. If that was my kid…… yeah – not so sure I could have held my cool. I don’t think it was a parenting fail on your part to get him an iPhone. After all, smartphones are almost the only thing you can get these days. However, I do find it ridiculous the cost you have to pay to replace a damaged phone. Seriously… for all the money you put into the insurance every single month, why do you even have the insurance. When my husband broke his phone it cost us 100 bucks to use the insurance. To make matters worse, we sent the old phone back. This was at the end of last May. By August, they still hadn’t recieved it. They put an additional $150 on our bill and then turned our phones off for being over our limit. So, we had no choice. If we wanted our phones on, we had to pay the money for a phone we already sent in. Nobody could figure out what happened and nobody could confirm the package even though they did confirm we sent on because there was one with our name on it. Didn’t matter. Just last month we finally got our money back in our account. Just ridiculous. Now – we realized our daughter’s phone (she’s in 5th grade) isn’t working. We kept thinking it was because she just wasn’t paying attention or using it. But we called her several times the other day and it didn’t show one missed call. So here we were all angry at her. But now we have to go through the same thing again. I told my husband to take a picture of the UPS man holding the package. I am not getting charged again!

Oh yeah – did you by any chance check ebay or craigslist to see if you could find a cheaper replacement? Sometimes people are getting rid of their old phones because they are updating and they don’t need them. Or maybe someone would have a different phone that would work with Verizon – like a blackberry. Sure – it might be outdated, but I bet he will learn his lesson.


ohboymom November 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Thanks Stacy, and I agree about the insurance. My husband doesn’t think it’s worth it and he’s probably right. Your story is crazy! What we may end up doing is giving my son my iphone 4, which I’m still using now but when I’m due for an upgrade, I’ll get the “5” and he can have my old “4.” But, he’s still going to have to earn my phone too.:)


Cari Lorine November 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Oh. My. God! I would have been so mad! My step daughter is 13 and is absolutely begging for an iPhone. She got her phone for her birthday last year and has wanted an iPhone since. Granted, I think boys are probably a little harder on “toys” than girls are. Whew! I admire you, Emily. I’m not sure what I would have done. That’s $100 I would have hated spending.


ohboymom November 15, 2012 at 7:19 pm

I agree Cari, we haven’t spent the $100 yet…definitely going to make him wait, and wait, and wait…


Kelly November 15, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Poor both of you! I can just imagine how angry you were when that phone hit the pavement!

I have recently heard myself saying this a LOT:

“Why does no one listen to me until the “thing that is gonna happen if you don’t stop that”…happens? No one hears me until the predicted error has been fully realized. Grrrr.

I have the 3 girls…do you know how many cell phones I’ve been through? WOW me either! Lots! I would for sure make the child pay for the mistake from the old savings account and the “now let that be a lesson to you”….it really hurts when it’s their money! Sorry Emily but I think I can empathize with this one…not just sympathize:)


ohboymom November 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Thanks Kelly, I’m glad to know you’ve been there too. It’s always reassuring to know my kids are not unique with losing or destroying items of value! I appreciate both your empathy and sympathy!


Stephanie.Sprenger November 15, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Arghhh! That is so painful! Props to you for keeping your cool. Those “I told you so ” moments of parenting just KILL me!


ohboymom November 15, 2012 at 8:37 pm

So true Stephanie, so so true…I just wish my “I told you so” moments were not so expensive too.:)


Cyndi November 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I still have one of those dumbphones. Call me frugal. I don’t even treat myself to a smartphone. If my imaginary kid broke one two months after me getting him one? Oh, honey, they’d probably call social services on me. Not really, but still. I’d be so mad, I’d probably tell my kid that fine, you don’t care if you break it? Then BUY it. Pay for everything, cuz I’m done. That’s probably harsh, but my parents did that to me. But you know what? I still have my TI-81 calculator from high school (I graduated in 97) and I’ve only ever owned two cell phones in my life. Not saying theirs was the best way by any means…I probably have some undiscovered issues, for sure. 😉 I love technology, but I’m frugal to the extreme and wait until the need arises to upgrade. That being said…you’re so awesome – I would have blown my cool.


ohboymom November 16, 2012 at 2:55 am

Cyndi, I totally get where you’re coming from…my father does not own a cell phone. I always joke with him that he must be the only person in the entire country without one. And he too is someone who loves technology (and owns many Apple products), but he just doesn’t see the need for a cell phone. I appreciate your praise and believe me if we weren’t in public, I would have blown my cool!


Julia November 16, 2012 at 1:47 am

Our daughter got a smart phone when she was only ten, mostly because I knew an Apple product would word seamlessly with all the other Apple stuff in our home and I couldn’t be bothered with tech questions on a different kind of device. So I’m lazy. And pressed for time. I think you’re smart to make this a teachable moment. A long teachable moment. Hope it goes well and keep us posted!


ohboymom November 16, 2012 at 2:56 am

Thanks Julia and I agree with making this a long teachable moment, although just today he said he doesn’t mind using his cracked phone. As long as it still works, he’s happy. My teachable moment may be passing me by..:(


Roshni November 16, 2012 at 6:42 am

You were not wrong to get him an iPhone…as you said, he is mature and responsible most of the time. But then, we forget that they are still kids and do stupid things! Like Big A! He had a book fair at school and asked for money to buy books. I gave him a $20 and asked him to keep tabs on the change! I fully expected him to buy a book and that’s it! Instead, he bought one book and then all kinds of crap (pencils, erasers etc) worth about $11, and gave me back 49 cents!! Sheesh!!


ohboymom November 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Ah yes the old book fair switcheroo…my kids have attempted the same trick. That’s why I always escort them to the book fair if I am able so that I can monitor their purchases. Not that I don’t trust them or anything! :)


Rich Rumple November 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm

My father always made me do without when I was younger and broke something. I did the same with my kids. They’re doing the same with theirs, for the most part. Yet, we never had phones, and my grandkids do, so times do change. I’d make him pay for it out of his savings. Only if he experiences financial loss will he appreciate it and be more careful. At least, that’s my thoughts. Good luck!


ohboymom November 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Thanks Rich and I do agree with you that only if they experience the consequences (which in this case is financial loss) will he learn from his mistake.


Aprille November 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I ran over my iPhone with my car, and had no insurance for it. I took it to the Apple Store and they replaced it for free. no joke.

I only have a two year old…but I kinda think that maybe a smartphone for a 12 year old is a bit much. But you live and learn. And who knows what kind of gadgets they will have in 10 years when my son is 12. LOL


Aprille November 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm

10 years ago I didn’t even have an email account! My parents had JUNO. lol


ohboymom November 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Aprille, I have heard of the Apple Store replacing phones for free and believe me, we tried. I think they would have if we had the Apple care plan or something like that, but no such luck. As for when your son is 12, I have a feeling smartphones will be the ONLY alternative or perhaps even outdated by then!


Melanie November 17, 2012 at 4:27 am

Your middle son has a lot of guts…that’s for sure. My word, I was holding my breath reading this…if I ever had a child of mine do that I don’t know what I’d do. I probably would punish them for months and make them buy their own phone (or at least half of it) after they’d suffered with chores around the house. At least like you say – you can get something out of it. Boys…
To this day my Dad still teases me about my first cellphone that I dropped in a cup of hot chocolate. This was me trying to balance it on top of a mug one night. He didn’t see. I didn’t say. He took it to the phone repair shop, and the technician told him about the hot chocolate. Will never forget that, and I get upset if my phone has a little scratch on it. Maybe that’s just girls?
Good luck for the weeks ahead! At least out of all this I hope you get an extra pair of hands around the house for a while and a chance to put your feet up! :)


ohboymom November 17, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Thanks Melanie, I definitely plan to put him to work! (And that’s preety funny about the hot chocolate mishap…:))


Melanie Shebel November 17, 2012 at 5:03 am

Ouch! I’m sorry to hear about the phone! If it’s any consolation, my sister cracked her iPhone and paid about $125 to get it fixed. Less than a month later she cracked it again. And those phones don’t just crack… the screen totally busts!


ohboymom November 17, 2012 at 9:42 pm

You are so right about that — those screens shatter! My high schooler told me all the kids walk around school with cracked iPhones and iPads so at least I know my kids are part of the trend! :)


Michelle Liew November 19, 2012 at 5:38 am

Hi Emily, I would be so mad and not get him a new phone, but I know you’d need one to contact him…..since he’s offered to pay for the glass, I’d let him work for that gradually just so that he’d learn the lesson to treasure the things given to him. Kids do put us in a spot!


ohboymom November 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Oh yes they sure do Michelle! I agree with having him work to pay for the repair — seems to be the consensus. Thanks for weighing in!


Heather April 20, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Smartphones are just so fragile, that’s so disappointing to hear it got cracked so quickly! I hope the repairs are fast and relatively inexpensive! Thanks for sharing, perhaps this will at least serve as a warning to other parents of iPhone users.


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