Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

My 8 year old has a Facebook account! July 13, 2012

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facebook logoYes, the headline is true, to a point.  She HAD a Facebook account, until I found out and shut it down faster than you can say “Sometimes I hate the internet and all it allows”.  The problem unfolded when I received a call from another Mum, letting me know that her daughter had mentioned Sister of a Man-Child now had a Facebook account.  Thankfully the Mum called me and let me know, as she was concerned that she would even have one, and rightfully so.  She also explained she’d expect me to do the same if the situation was reversed – and she was absolutely right.

To be honest I was pretty surprised to hear that our daughter had a Facebook account.  I actually think for the most part she’s a very mature young girl, and also highly trustworthy, so I was genuinely shocked to learn what I did.  So what happened next you ask?    Angry, scary Mummy walked right in to where she was on the computer (again) and asked her “Who set up your Facebook account?”   “Me” she said, looking absolutely terrified.  I immediately asked her for her access details and “deactivated” the account on the spot, with a very teary Sister of a Man-Child beside me.  She got even more upset when the damn password wouldn’t work and we had trouble even getting into the account and I got madder and madder at her and Facebook.  Interesting, they only “deactivate” you, and tell you they’ll be waiting patiently should you decide to come back.  You never get to really “delete” the thing, of course.  So there’s her “signature” already on Facebook just waiting for her when she’s actually old enough to use it.

I asked her how she got around the age issue, and she told me she just lied about it. Now this is where the situation needs further explanation, and where I hold myself to blame.  You remember our problem with her iTunes account, and my fortune (insert extreme sarcasm) in seeing (and hearing) every iMessage she sends to her friends on my iPhone.  We finally managed a work around, which I admit did involve creating an email account for her with perhaps a little white lie about her age so we could have the account in the first place, and then another little while lie about her age to get the iTunes account.  Problem finally solved, however, behaviour also easily mimicked by an 8-year-old.  If she’s seen her mother and brother do it, then it must be okay!  Damn.

I naturally also asked why she wanted a Facebook account in the first place.  She told me she’d been jealous of her friend and how many “things” she had in an online game, and when she saw that she could earn more “things” herself if she simply logged in to Facebook she did just that, creating the account along the way.  Aaaarrrgggh.  They don’t call it “the web” for nothing, it’s a web of intrigue and danger and invitations that little minds just fall in love with.  We then had a discussion about what she’d learned at school about the internet, and all the things she knew NOT to do, and that setting up this account was totally against the rules (both at school and home).  As only an innocent 8-year-old could, she explained through more tears and half breaths (yep, very, very upset) that she had been on school holidays for a few weeks and forgotten about all the school rules.  We had hugs and made up (angry Mummy now forgiving Mummy) and agreed that it would never happen again, and that she could be trusted not to make another error of judgement like that.

We also agreed that she has no more computer access until we go away, and the iPod has also been confiscated for an indefinite period.  I am disappointed in myself to think that our behaviour wouldn’t be copied by my daughter, and I’m also annoyed with myself that I got so angry about it and with her.  Father of a Man-Child would have been much calmer about it (he always is).  He’s definitely the Yin to my Yang and where I am generally the yelling parent he is generally the talking parent (anyone who knows us both will not be surprised by that at all).  At the end of the day I should have been angry with the internet, and the social networks that allow us all (including our children) to so easily create fake accounts and personas, whether for a good cause or not.

So, that’s our Facebook drama.  What do you do to stop the hideous infiltration of the world-wide-web into your children’s lives?   Do you have rules about using the internet, and other devices?  Should I have handled things differently?

It does seem Sister of a Man-Child is getting quite a look in on the blog these days.  Perhaps one day I’ll have to rename it?  And what of the Men-Children you ask?  Well being school holidays, I’d love to tell you how they are, but we’ve seen them so infrequently I barely know.  I think we’ve had ONE meal together as a family in the whole school holidays.  Yep, at 16 it’s just not where they want to be.

As we’re off on a little holiday with Sister of a Man-Child, you may not hear from me for a week, unless there is exciting breaking news about the Men-Children whilst we’re away!  And no, we are not leaving them home alone – what do you think we are?  Crazy?

I have written about the joys of Facebook before.  Can you be Facebook friends with your kids?

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Gaming the old fashioned way? June 24, 2011

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A quite fantastic thing happened the other day.  The men-children, and sister of a man-child and me all sat down together after dinner and played a game.  Not just any game.  It wasn’t electronic, it wasn’t on a PS3 or an iPhone, it wasn’t on the TV or the internet, it was a good old-fashioned BOARD game!!

Now this board game wasn’t old fashioned to me, it was Pictionary.  But my kids had never seen it would you believe (or the men-children might have when they were small but they couldn’t remember it).   And certainly it’s way older than the seven-year-old.  So it was exciting and “new” in a strange sort of way.

We found the game a few weeks back in a couple of boxes we pulled off a top shelf.  It’s amazing what you find post-renovating when you decide to reorganize the house.  The kids had a ball looking at the stamp and coin collections that had belonged to my husband and me as kids.  We even found my old swap cards (who remembers Blue Boy?) and some old footy and collectible cards that had belonged to my father.  (BTW, turns out those old 50’s footy cards are worth about $30 EACH!!!).

So the board games had been sitting in the box on the floor (okay, I haven’t put everything in a new place yet) and I had been meaning to actually get the kids to play some of them.  So on Sunday night I asked the boys if they’d play with their sister and me for a short while (mention anything longer than 30 minutes and you’ll only see dust).

I am delighted to tell you we actually had a lot of fun.  We pitched the men-children against Mother of a Man-Child and Sister of a Man-Child.  That seemed fair, and actually we girls held our own easily.  The funniest thing was playing a game that dates from 1985 – it’s the first edition actually.  There were quite a few words none of the kids even understood (e.g. garter belt, punk rocker, bell bottoms, fondue, Mrs Thatcher), so we would just pick another card.  And I was also amazed to witness the different skills for each of my children and to see who can a) draw, and b) think laterally enough to guess what a doctor’s stethoscope is when it’s drawn very, very badly!!!  And oh, there’s not a competitive bone in their bodies (yeah right). 🙂

I’m not sure if we’re unusual, but how long is it since you played a board game as a family?  Let me guess, on holidays at the snow when they have no TV’s at all (yep, there’s a lodge we stay at where there’s no TV – it’s fantastic), or on holidays in Queensland, when it’s raining and you can’t go to the beach and you’ve watched all the DVD’s and the kids find an odd assortment of board games with missing pieces?  Or you pull out the playing cards for a round of poker or snap?  We used to play games a bit at the beach house, but often with the adults after dinner – it was a ritual of sorts.

I do play board games with sister of a man-child from time to time at home, but after our Pictionary experiment I think we should endeavour to work our way through the boxes of old games on a regular basis.  It was such a nice opportunity to have the kids all doing something together and the family for the matter (if you’re wondering Father of a Man-Child was let off the hook last week, but he won’t be again).   With a seven-year age gap the men-children and their sister don’t have a great deal in common as you would imagine, so I like the chance to do these things.

It’s the stuff that memories are made of for me, and I’m hoping it will be the same for our kids.  I can still remember learning to play 500 when we were about 14 years old on one holiday.  We became so obsessed with it we played for hours and hours, day after day – our parents must have been thrilled at their ingenuity.

So pull out the Monopoly, or Pictionary, or Cluedo and get playing!  I promise you’ll have fun!