Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Online dangers lurking March 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

danger signDuring the week I was reminded about the ever-present threat that the online environment presents with young children.  As you may know sister of a man-child once set up her own Facebook account, at the age of eight, without my permission – trust me it wasn’t around for long!

Earlier this week we received an alert notice from the school, which had been circulated by police, about online paedophiles.  Some young girls had been using a social networking site, and had been encouraged to share inappropriate photos of themselves with an older male who had befriended them.  The girls were the same age as my daughter and living in the area – quite frankly a terrifying thought, and far too close to home for my liking.  The site if you are interested in ensuring your children are NOT using it is (KIK messenger) and the incident was reported because a mother wondered why her daughter was taking naked photos of herself.

As the notice advised, with the increasing availability of WIFI in homes and numerous devices children can use that include a camera, their access to the internet is easy and obviously needs to be monitored closely.  Whilst you can block certain sites, you can’t block ones you don’t even know about!

My daughter had actually set up an Instagram account recently (photo sharing site), telling me about it after the fact.  I checked whom she had befriended and her settings and said it was okay for the minute, although I would have preferred she didn’t have it.  They were sharing photos of cute bunnies and cats, nothing abnormal, and nothing to worry about.  Naturally, at any time I can access her iPod and see what messages are being sent between her and her friends, whether by text or Instagram etc.

However, after receiving the above message from the school, I explained to sister of a Man-child that unfortunately for now we were going to delete her account.  It’s not that I don’t trust her, but seeing she had befriended some older siblings of her own friends, I was a bit concerned that in time she might be exposed to content I didn’t think was appropriate.  As you know when you have a lot of friends on social networks, it’s not always easy to remember who the audience is watching your posts.

She understood (the kids were all aware about the recent police alert to the school), although I don’t think she was very happy about it.  But so be it.  As I explained, my job as a mother is to protect her, and sometimes I will make decisions that I think are right for her, even if she doesn’t like it.  (Oh if only that still worked on her brothers!!)

We have a similar scenario regarding walking to school.  At the age of nine she would love to walk the two blocks to school each morning.  As much as we would love her to do it, we just can’t bring ourselves to allow it.  I did check my own paranoia with a few friends at the time, who were all so quick to say “No”, that I thought I had been too liberal to even consider it for a minute.  Whilst you don’t want to make your children worry, you also need them to understand they are vulnerable.   From memory we allowed the men-children to walk to school at the age of 10, but as they were twins they walked together every day.  As they say, safety in numbers.

Sorry for the serious tone of the post this week, but I think it’s good to share this sort of intel with other parents.  What do you do to block access to the internet by your kids or to monitor their usage?  Are you allowing them to use social network sites and at what age?

Of course technology and the online world has been a popular topic of mine.  Click the links to read the posts:

The technology invasion,

My 8 year old has a Facebook account

Fighting the technology tsunami



Technology – A privacy invasion? July 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

video cameraI love technology don’t get me wrong.  It makes our lives easier on a daily basis, it has revolutionised the way we communicate, and no doubt will continue to make incredible advances that we haven’t even dreamt about by the end of the year (one might have said decade but it moves so fast I have to condense the time frames)!

And just as well I love technology – with two teenage boys who can’t get enough of it, and their sister, a true “digital native” at only 8 years old – it’s very present in our lives.  It’s fair to say Sister of a Man-Child’s use of technology took a quantum leap when Father Christmas generously gave her an iPod Touch last Christmas (Nintendo DS are SO last century)!  As a result, she was no longer reliant on borrowing the iPad, or one of our iPhones, or the Macbook, but had free reign of the App store – she was like a kid in a lolly shop.   Thankfully, the bulk of them are free, and she’s been trained to ask if she can download one that costs money (yes even 0.99c – it’s the principal of it), so it’s relatively under control.

Of course the clever iPod Touch does everything the iPhone does in a wireless environment, except make phone calls.  I mentioned when she got it that having put it under my iTunes account (very logical at the time), I now have the joy of “sharing” all the conversations she has with her friends via iMessage.  Which can be insightful, but also very annoying when you’re in the office and your phone keeps pinging you every time another inane comment from an 8-year-old enters cyberspace!!!

My daughter is now so with the program, she can thumb type faster than me, and create a video on her iPod in about 1 minute flat.  No wonder YouTube has so much content on it – they create it constantly.

Sister of a Man-Child discovered the joys of Face Time too, so you can often hear her and a friend talking to each other about absolutely nothing really, for 30 mins or so.  It’s their version of a telephone call naturally, but you can’t pick your nose discreetly or roll your eyes when it’s on video can you?  I was recently stuck at home for the day, having survived the hideous man-cold that is doing the rounds at the moment (it’s earned that title, it’s not a nice gentle cold that a woman-cold would be, it’s a dead set bastard of a thing that king hits you and bang – you’re out for the count).  Anyway, I had kindly said my daughter could spend the day at home with me while I worked with my germs close by, instead of sending her off to holiday program.

Trouble first set in on the Sunday night – she was reluctant to give up her iPod Touch, and kept wanting to chat to her friend well past bed time.  Alarm bells rang when I noticed the message on my phone between them agreeing to FT (short for Face Time) each other at 10pm!!!!  Thank you, there’ll be none of that, I’ll just take that iPod for the night.  I was pleased to see her friend tell my daughter “Shore (sic) but I think it’s a bit naughty to do that”  – yes it is!!!!

Of course by 8am the next morning they were both up, so what better time for FT.  Next thing you know I am in the kitchen in my PJ’s (after a weekend of man-cold it’s very fair to say I was not looking my best) and I hear my daughter’s friend, and then her mother, saying “Good morning” to her.  What the?  Can’t I even have breakfast in peace?  Nope, it’s like Big Brother in our house.  They’re hearing AND seeing what we’re doing in the morning, and vice versa.  I think not.  I explain to my daughter that she is welcome to share her life via FT to anyone she cares, but that I have limits for our family.  And that means I don’t really want to see the school mums over breakfasts – regardless of how well we know each other.  It’s just a little too invasive for my liking.  But then again, maybe that’s just me.  I admit it, I absolutely HATE Big Brother, and always will. Obviously I am not Gen Y or Z!!!

So that’s our life with technology at the moment.  There are days that I have to tell Sister of a Man-child “no more screen time”, which she knows means don’t touch the iPod, iPhone, or Macbook again today.  So of course she’ll plonk herself in front of the TV – not yet an iTV, but coming soon to a home near you!  Am I the only one who hates this invasion of technology sometimes?  Do you set limits in your house?

I have written about technology before:  Fighting the Technology Tsunami.  It’s an uphill battle!


Sister of a Man-Child: Here comes the Attitude. May 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

OMGIt’s been a while since I wrote about Sister of a Man-Child.  She’s a darling 8-year-old most of the time, and really a very easy going, and thoughtful child.  But sometimes she can take me by surprise, and cause me to reflect on the world around her and just what impact the behaviour of the Men-Children and we as parents have on her, considering she lives in an “adult” world a lot of the time.

Of course, there are other influences in her life also – the media, her friends, her teachers.  I can only guess as to the source of influence for a recent text message I received from her whilst at work:  “I hate my life!”  I kid you not – that’s exactly what she wrote.   I rang home immediately in case she was seriously suicidal, only to find out that a small incident had occurred with her brother/father and she was basically having a sulk.  I am confident she learned to be a drama queen from the countless Foxtel/Disney teenage shows she watches – some saccharine sweet, but clearly some not quite so.  Most of them drive me insane and I regularly demand they be turned off.

I totally blame these shows (and also the Men-Children) for her latest outburst.  Upon learning we were going out for dinner and she would need a babysitter (admittedly we had an unusually busy week and I had been “out” every night at some function or meeting) she declared at the dinner table “Are you serious!”  (insert indignant tone of voice).  I was gobsmacked to say the least, and immediately angry, and said she was NOT to speak to us with that attitude again.  Cue tears – suddenly a small 8-year-old girl not a teenager with attitude!

She also recently started walking around the house, saying to me BTW, blah blah… not “By the way”, but literally “BTW”.  When I asked her why she was talking in abbreviations, she said she liked it.  Hmmm.  Just like teenagers like it.  You may have noticed that “OMG” and  “LOL” are not acronyms any longer, but “words”.   I said please talk to me in proper English and save the text language for the iPod/iPhone thanks.   I really wonder what we’re breeding some days and whether or not our children will be able to write or speak using correct English.   Was I being too mean?  Was she just experimenting with language?  Or am I right to nip this in the bud?

When it comes to her brothers, Sister of Man-Child doesn’t want much from the Men-Children – just their love and a little attention from time to time so she doesn’t feel like an only child.  It’s so rare that they are nice to her, that the other day she came running in to tell me that they had BOTH been really nice to her, and that she was SO happy.  She even asked one of them why he’d been nice to her four days in a row.  I have made a point to let them both know how she feels, so they might begin to realise what impact they have on their sister’s feelings, and how easy it is to earn her adoration and make her feel wonderful.  It takes such a small effort on their part to be nice to her, I hope they think twice about it and change their behaviour towards her.

As I say often to my daughter, just wait until you’re 15 years old.  Your 22-year-old brothers will be VERY interested in you and your girlfriends, and probably fighting to drive you everywhere and even chaperone you to parties.   Bring it on I say!

You can read more about Sister of a Man-Child here:  A Princess Tale


Back to School!! February 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

twins at schoolAs our unusual “summer” enters its final month, the kids this week returned to school.  And we returned to the daily grind of making lunches, 6am rowing starts, music lessons, and countless loads of washing every week – I haven’t missed it I can tell you.  Nor the peak hour traffic that results!  Whilst there was no excitement evident amongst the men-children as they headed back to school, I know they were happy to return and catch up with their mates after a few months off.  And they’re both pretty pumped about a big year of sport in Year 10.  (Let’s hope it’s also a big year of study for both of them!)

It seems every newspaper carries a mandatory image of twins or triplets or even better quads in school uniform, as they head to school for their first prep year.  It reminds me of our own front page photo of the men-children some 10 years ago (that’s it pictured for you) which was pretty exciting at the time, and really is a great moment to have captured for posterity.  I still remember the boys wearing their school uniforms home from the store, such was their thrill at owning one.  And of course the pride I felt whilst blinking back tears as we stood in the prep classroom and launched them on their school journey.  No less joyful was repeating it all 7 years later with our daughter.  They are moments you could relive a thousand times over and each would be as wonderful as the first!

In contrast to the boys, Sister of a Man-Child’s excitement was palpable at entering Year 3.  She even sent me a text message yesterday when she got home “Hay (sic) mum first day of school great.  Thumbs up”, complete with thumbs up images!  Now before you think our 8-year-old daughter has a mobile phone, not quite.  For Christmas she was lucky enough to get an iPod Touch (as a modern-day alternative to the Nintendo DS).  Whilst most people would think she would use it for music, it comes with so many other features she’s barely had the earphones on.  Why would you when it also has countless games free from the App store, a camera better than mine, access to YouTube, and most importantly the ability to text (via iMessage) and use Facetime with other iPhone/iPod users.  The ONLY thing it doesn’t do is make phone calls – seriously.  So when Ruby’s in a wireless environment, she’s practically got her own iPhone.  A “Digital Native” in the making!

emoji imagesShe recently found some friends with iPods or iPhones, and now they’re madly texting each other and doing Facetime.  The only issue is that Ruby doesn’t have her own email address, so she’s using one of mine.  As a result, all her messaging appears automatically on my phone too.  It was fascinating to observe the conversation unfold between three young girls, and see them helping each other text and use Facetime.  And then installing Emoji (an app for texting icons).  Now they seem to send each other hundreds of smiley faces and other images.  Although the other morning I was sitting at work with a stream of messages (complete with sound notifications) going off at my desk which got a little out of hand.  I ended up joining the conversation and asking them to stop, which took a while because we had to convince one of the girls that it really was the “Mother” texting.  Not surprisingly, we have now banned the use of the iPod before school and not until after homework is done in the evenings – like all fun and highly addictive “toys”, good in moderation.

So back to school and back to the routine.  And back to family meals which are a nice change, especially since during the holidays we rarely had both men-children at home for a meal.  No doubt the novelty will wear off quickly!! 🙂


Mother of a Man-Child: Bereft of Brain Cells? October 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 4:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sometimes I wonder about my men-children, and whether or not their brains have completely departed their bodies temporarily.  The say that the effect of the raging hormones in teenagers bodies can have certain physiological impacts, such as partial deafness (actually I think that’s a long-term male condition called “selective hearing”), or that gangly awkwardness you see in boys whose limbs are growing faster than they should, and they develop an uncoordinated gait.

But in recent days, Man-Child I and II have shown apparent signs of complete dumbness that astounded me, and then reminded me that for all their claims of being a grown man they’re still children after all, growing up in a different era to me.  I will amuse you with two such instances.

On a recent holiday, Man-Child I and II were thrilled to discover our very luxurious holiday rental was complete with flat screen TV’s, Bose surround sound systems, and their own home theatre room in the basement – complete joy for all as the boys had their own space (quickly dubbed “the hole”) and they could play as much music and watch as much TV as their hearts desired without nagging parents interfering.  The system was even better due to the ability to plug-in an iPod or iPhone and enjoy their music on tap.

When we returned home and I unpacked the beach towels from Man-Child II’s bags (in the event they would otherwise remain there wet for the next 2 months turning mouldy), I found some A/V plugs that didn’t look familiar at all.  I innocently asked where they might have come from and received the first response “I don’t know”, and following a look that said “do you think I’m stupid” he admitted he’d taken it from the rental property, because “it was right at the back of the cupboard and no-one would even know it was missing and I wanted to connect my iPod at home”.  Naturally, I explained that was theft, and that he could visit the post office the following day and mail it back to the agent with a short note about it’s accidental removal.

Whilst I’m annoyed and disappointed about the theft, I had to chuckle when I told him to take it to the post office and mail it.  Man-Child II (yes he who would have you believe he should be allowed to go anywhere and everywhere because he’s so grown up) asked how he should post it!  He literally had no idea what to do.  I explained that you buy a stamp with your money to cover the cost of mailing the item to QLD, and place it in the letterbox.  So it got me thinking – is it really because he’s stupid, or completely non-observant, or is it that most 14 year olds don’t ever use that form of communication, being the millennial generation, so he has had virtually no experience posting letters – that old-fashioned form of staying connected?  In hindsight, the latter is probably true.  So I took it to the post office and spent the $1.20 for mail (I wish it had been more to teach him a good lesson)!

It seems Man-Child I isn’t much better.  Having asked me to arrange a doctor’s appointment for an earache recently, I explained I could do that but we’d both be at work, so he’d be on his own (it being school holidays).  So I left a note on the bench before work with details of the appointment, rang my husband to ensure he had seen the note before he left for work, then rang home later and told Man-Child I what time the doctor was, and to wake up his brother in time for the appointment, and even sent Man-Child I a text message – in short covered every conceivable base.  So guess what happened?  He missed the appointment!!!

It seems Man-Child II apparently did tell him to get up, but Man-Child I being half asleep didn’t even listen, so slept on.  Man-Child I then rang me 2 hours after the allotted time to ask when I was coming home to pick him up and take him to the doctor, because that’s what I always do!!!  Good grief!  Suddenly they don’t seem so independent do they?  I then had to beg for another appointment as naturally they were booked out by then, and I told Man-Child I to get on the tram himself or ride his bike to the doctor.  And not to worry about paying as I’d fix them up later.  Clearly we have a way to go to educate our boys to be independent, and capable of operating in the adult world.

So when they tell me yet again that they’re grown up and “nearly 15” and should be allowed to do anything they want, obviously we share a very different perspective don’t we?