My parents had it easy… well, easier than I do, anyway. Now, I know that I have caused my parents an unnecessary headache or two. Like the time my little brother and I felt the need to smash coffee creamers all over the bathroom floor of an S&S Cafeteria on the way home from a family trip. Or the time I snuck a nudie magazine to middle school.
Ugh! Re-living my childhood mistakes are always so much fun. But this article isn’t about me, it’s about my kids and their embarrassing childhood mistakes!
My parents, and your parents for that matter, never had to deal with the technologies that we have to deal with. Sometimes when parenting, when I get stuck, I may call my own parents to ask what they did with me in xyz situation. The problem is, I never had an iPhone, or a tablet, or an X-Box with X-Box Live so I can game with my friends and random strangers. We also never had the internet. So now, with all this new technology, there are all sorts of ways my kids can get into trouble. And I’m left to figure it out on my own with a huge opportunity for it to end badly.
My youngest son, No. 4, doesn’t like to play with the educational, age-appropriate tablet that we got him last Christmas. Noooo. He likes to play with his mom’s tablet. His favorite thing to do on her tablet? Download apps. Every now and then he might actually play the app. But, for the most part, he just likes to download. Once in a blue moon, he eventually downloads an app that ain’t free. Not cool!
My daughter is actually the most responsible of the three (insert females are smarter than males comment here, ladies). The biggest problem we have with her and today’s technology is the internet spoiling her childhood innocence. She loves to Google stuff. But she’s not looking up inappropriate things. She just likes to know how things work.
For instance: She loves Taco, our Elf on the Shelf. Last month, she decided to Google “Elf on the Shelf.” What pops up on Google? A Pinterest page titled “Elf on the Shelf Ideas,” of course, along with several other pages like Buzzfeed with ideas. There’s even a website called elfontheshelfideas.com. The best one? The page offering the 12 naughtiest Elf on the Shelf moments. We’re not talking elf getting into the marshmallow bag kinda naughty, either. But, like I said, No. 3 is the most responsible of our children. So maybe she didn’t look at any of those pages. Or maybe she did and is a great manipulator and is just going along with it all (insert women are the best manipulators comments here, guys).
Finally, there’s my oldest son, No. 2. This kid has an unhealthy obsession with electronics. iPod, tablet, laptop… you name it, he’s got to have it. We did the whole “make good grades and you can have it” thing and, wouldn’t you know it, it worked! His grades drastically improved this school year so, he got a tablet/ laptop for Christmas that his face is now glued to. Constantly. Well, when he’s not playing Black Ops or texting on his phone, of course.
The thing is, he kinda needs this stuff. He uses the tablet for school. Well, sometimes. Most of the time he’s… well, there’s no telling what he’s doing on that thing. The phone comes in handy when his football practice runs late and if he’s at a friend’s house or something. But the thing is, our wireless provider was running a special when we got him the phone. So, he got an iPhone, which is not just a phone, it’s a gateway to all things unholy, all things forbidden, all things that I wish I had at my fingertips as a pre-pubescent boy.
You see, for the ladies reading, young boys have one mission in life: To see a woman in her birthday suit. When I was his age, I had to sneak down the gauntlet — through my parents’ room, around the corner, into the bathroom and dig to the bottom of the magazine stack to catch my first glimpse of a naked woman. Quite the daunting task, lemme tell ya! First, you have to work up the nerve to even step foot in the parents’ room (which doesn’t seem to bother my kids at all, but that’s another column for another day). Then, you had to make it through what, as a kid, was the equivalent of running through the “Wipeout” obstacle course… and completely worth it!
Now my son can do it on any of the many devices floating around the house, his school, his friends’ houses, etc. Yes, there are parental blocks and such. Those are now my son’s gauntlet. And when a kid has all these things at his disposal, it doesn’t matter what kind of blocks or passwords you have on it. Eventually, he’ll figure out a way around it.
Finally, there’s the X-Box. I have long passed my gaming days. I got way too distracted by my 20s to keep up with the advancing stages of gaming. So I know very little about them. I also am not super familiar with the whole X-Box Live thing. I was reminded during the Christmas break how it works, though. No. 2 was being kind of punished, a light punishment, but a punishment nonetheless. So, he had to go to bed at normal school-night bedtime. Vicious and cruel, I know!
Well, I was leaving for my trivia night when I poked my head in his door to remind him to go to bed at normal time. He answers back with a kind of quick “yessir.” So I ask him to tell me what time is he to be in the bed? He answers quickly again “9.” So I ask him, “Do you remember why you’re going to bed at normal time?” He answers, somewhat reluctantly and quietly. So I answer him back, in my loud, authoritative dad voice, “Don’t get upset with me, I just want to make sure you know why you’re being punished… yada yada yada,” Then, I hear why he was so short and reluctant with me: I hear his friends talking through the speaker of his gaming chair. They just heard our whole exchange. I just singlehandedly embarrassed the crap out of my son. Perfect. Damn you, technology!
Parenting is hard… unless you were our parents. Our parents should totally thank us.