Our household is suffering from what I can only guess is a common problem with similar-aged children these days: the disappearing charger. I consider my tweens to be little adults in training. They are just beginning to learn the organizational skills and sense of responsibility that will be required if they are to care for themselves one day. It should come as no surprise then, that trusting them to keep track of expensive devices and their accessories should be a road fraught with difficulty.
One particular area of teaching accountability is a constant battle: keeping track of cell phone chargers. Our family members all use the same ones, as do most of the kids’ friends. The problem first came to light several years back when they were the proud new owners of iPod Touches.
After one really fun girls’ weekend in Manhattan with their cousins, we found ourselves with our first charger-shortage. The giggling group of girls had played with their various electronics between activities in the city. It wasn’t until we got home that I realized we were several chargers short.
I went ahead with what I thought would be a quick fix; I bought cheap replacements from eBay. I chose bright colors so they couldn’t be mistakenly taken again. No one told me the $5 chargers that take a month to arrive from China only work once or twice before becoming completely useless.
So back I went to Apple, the company that has the unique ability to make all of its products indispensable and completely necessary. I spent approximately $40 each on a few replacements. We labeled the universally white chargers to avoid confusion, but the trend towards disappearing chargers continued.
When a group of tween friends descends on our house for a sleepover, I should plan ahead and hide all of the chargers before they arrive. Unfortunately, these gatherings are often impromptu and I’m busy. Before I know it, it’s too late.
The charger crisis hit rock-bottom last week when I came home from a long day at work and found our designated charging area completely devoid of chargers. One tween had left for a sleepover and the rest of us were unable to charge our devices. We don’t have a land line anymore and my husband is on-call for work 24/7. The baby was crying for Curious George which she watches on a (now dead) iPod during primetime television, so that the rest of us can watch something other than PBS Kids.
I was livid. Steam was coming out of my ears as I called the tween with my last 5 percent of battery.
“How could you take them all?” I screamed. “Your sister bought hers with her own money for goodness sake!” What followed was a long-winded defense about not knowing she had already packed one when she took another, and swearing that none of her friends had taken the third one.
My mood lightened the next day when my tween-offender surprised me with a rare act of selflessness. She asked her dad to drive her to RadioShack on the way home from her sleepover. Despite the fact that she has difficulty even speaking to her close-in-age younger sister without contempt, she spent all of her money to replace her missing charger. When she got home she presented it and apologized to all of us.
Somehow, in the future, these girls will learn to take care of their (and our) possessions. That day, a small victory towards taking responsibility was won. I’m still hiding my new charger in my bedroom though.