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So. Being fourteen and a high school freshman means one is old enough for one’s own computer. With one’s own internet connection. To do one’s own research and schoolwork, natch, but also because the world if full of smug Protoss on Starcraft 2 who need to be ganked by your righteous horde of bulimic, death-phlegm Zerg.

In my house, it is not old enough to have said computer in one’s room. Yes, even with Surf Watch.

I don’t know if you know this—probably not, Beloveds, for you were all I am sure gently reared and remain delicate in nature—– but APPARENTLY someone has been very busy putting PORNOGRAPHY on the internet. I KNOW, RIGHT???? I am not, I think, old enough to have a computer in MY room, either.

Today’s porn— so I hear— is not like the misty, innocent porn of yesteryear…

Ahhh! How well I remember middle school, four seventh grade girls meeting up in the second floor ladies room, huddled around a Playboy in the last stall on the left. We went flipping past all the boobies because, presumably, one day we would have those for ourselves, all the way to the back, where the girl who had filched said mag from her father’s not-so-secret secret garage stash said there was a picture of a nudist colony.

The picture was about the size of a standard wallet photo, maybe an eighth of a page, and the central figure was an uber curvaceous blonde lady. But. Off the side. Full frontally facing us. There. There he— there IT—-was.
We all stared, jostling for position, at a grown up actual naked young man with grown up actual naked young man parts. Small picture, yes, but my goodness, what an educational 4 x 4 millimeters.

I emerged from these shenanigans mentally unscathed— and more importantly—uncaught. But there are things on the internet I have HEARD ABOUT but have been very careful to NEVER NEVER SEE. I know, OH HOW WELL I KNOW, that there are things you can NEVER NEVER NEVER UN-SEE. *shudder* Never. Never-never.

Don’t get me wrong. I trust my son. He is a good kid with a modicum of common sense. But sometimes the chance to see boobs > goodness and common sense.

Don’t get me wrong in other ways; boobs are nice things, really, in and of themselves, but when placed naked on the internet, boobs tend to have links to things that CANNOT BE EVER UNSEEN.

At the same time, I don’t really want another computer desk and a bunch of rowdy Protoss ganking going on IN MY OFFICE. Trying to write a book here, presumably. One hopes.

So I went to Ikea and found a teeny little tuckable desk unit and we made a technology corner in the den, which is open to the kitchen, which is the heart of the house. And when I look over there at what is UNDENIABLY a WORK SPACE for a fully viable HUMAN BEING, I know something awful and wonderful and inexorable and bitter-sweet has begun—no, has been secretly going on for years now.

My little kid is becoming a young man; my son is growing up.

14 comments to Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

  • sillyme

    now Maisy will want her very own one. And since there’s no more room in the den hers should just go in her room. She will need a desk for it too. And also maybe a bigger room. 😉

  • My ten year old inherited his dad’s Alienware when he was 7 and his dad needed to upgrade his computer for the razing of the Horde for work. It was a veeeery nice computer for a 7 year old’s purposes, which did not include any graphically dense games, but he remained wholly unimpressed. It was his DAD’s computer and could not magically become his just because I said so. That computer is no longer working, but still, lo these three years, remains ever his dad’s computer.

  • DebR

    It is distressing to me how quickly kids DO that – the growing up thing. I was looking through some photo albums with a visiting friend on Wednesday and one of the albums included some photos of one of my nieces (my brother’s daughter) as a sweet-faced, tow-headed, big-eyed toddler and it felt like it should have been just a couple of years ago that she looked JUST like that. But that very day she was turning 22 years old and was spending her birthday in freakin’ AFRICA with her FIANCE and a group of fellow COLLEGE students on a mission where they are helping to plant gardens and fruit trees and build playgrounds and other Good Things. She’s so beautiful and smart and compassionate and I’m so proud of her but seriously…SERIOUSLY…fiance? college?? Africa???? When did all that HAPPEN?? HOW did all that happen??? Should’t she still be a big-eyed toddler, safe at home and playing with dolls?? Gaaahhhh!!!

  • Brigitte


  • Ah, yes. My 15-year-old was telling me just yesterday that it would be so much more convenient for ALL of us if his computer, which currently resides in our den facing out toward the room where everyone can see what’s on his screen, could be moved to his bedroom. My response: “Maybe when you’re in college.”

  • linda j

    I’m fortunate that when my oldest was going through “that phase” we only had internet through the library. There are all sorts of warnings all over the computer stations about violations of law if certain images are viewed in public… That helped.

  • linda j

    I just received my arc of Coming Up For Air by Patti Callahan Henry that I won from the link you posted on FB. I had forgotten about it completely. I just don’t win stuff like this. Thank you I can’t wait to read it.

  • Scottsdale Girl

    My nieces have always been 5 years old. I refuse to let them get any older. I was shocked when one of my 5 year old nieces posted on Faceboook that she was finally getting her first car. When did they change the driving age law? *sigh*

  • Yup. I’m with you on the no-computers-in-rooms thing, at least until they’re significantly older. It’s not even the things-they-cannot-see that scares me so much as the pictures-they-cannot-unshoot-and-unshare. I am not a fan of webcams for this very reason.

    As for Sam, aw, happy he has his computer and safety. Maybe he can locate an app that will slow the growing-up process?

  • Jessica

    I know, I know! I don’t have kids, but my niece just turned 14. Apparently the kids at school think it’s funny to say, “Hey, go to such-and-such a website when you get home!” and my niece, who normally is very bright, decided that, yes, she should go to that website. She got home and no one was there, so she hopped on and went to the website. Luckily there were not things there that she could not unsee, but there were LINKS to things there that she wouldn’t have been able to unsee and things that she shouldn’t be reading about other people. My sister threw a fit, and I reminded her that she now has a TEENAGER in the house, which is much different than a little girl, and teenagers tend to give in to peer pressure now and then more than hotheaded, mouthy little girls. My niece is still hotheaded and mouthy, but she’s also the T-word, so…

    *sighs* Why is it that my niece is still 6 in my mind until I talk to her on the phone or see her? We had her at our house for several weeks after all the fallout at home, and while I love that she’s obviously going to be a wonderful young lady, she’s just growing up too fast.

    (They now have a few things on the computer to not allow no-one’s-home-at-the-moment time by herself on the computer, just in case someone gives her a really bad link idea.)

  • Don’t worry. He’ll see all the boobies and never-to-be-unseen things on somebody else’s computer (and there’s ALWAYS somebody else, with a smart phone or a laptop or something), but at least you’ll have the solid knowledge that it’s that somebody else’s technology that caught the virus that spammed the world and can’t be deleted from the machine.

    I know these things. We have a 21-year-old. He’s become an expert on viruses. I don’t ask.

    And Sam will do just fine with the wierdness and nakedness he sees, because he really is a good kid with an exceptional mind. And I bet he even understands why his computer’s in the den.

    But yeah, Maisy’s gonna want a computer AND a phone, and right now is not nearly soon enough, please-and-thank-you. Have you reached the protesting stage of the Phone War yet?

  • My 14 year old son has his computer in almost the exact same spot. Right next to the one that belongs to his 18 year old brother. It’s not that I don’t trust them, because I DO! It’s that I don’t trust the internet, or every one of their friends, or impulse . . .

  • edj

    I heartily applaud your common sense. We don’t let the kids have computers in their rooms either. (actually we currently all share a somewhat decrepit laptop, but that will change someday) And we have a password so they can’t get on when we’re not here. Is it perfect or totally foolproof? No, but it’s still smart.

    And aren’t teens fun? I have three and I love them, most of the time.

  • You know, I do have a 14y/o daughter who is beyond lovely and beautiful as well as sensible and remarkably intelligent (if I do say so myself)(if you don’t believe me, I have pix of her all over my FB profile & I talk about her on there OFTEN, go! look!) and we will be visiting cousins in GA soon. Sounds like she might be a good match for a sweet, sensible boy.

    Now, am I a Southern mama or WHAT? How embarrassing. Actually, my whole intention in commenting was to compliment you because I have not been brave enough to get my sweet SugarPlum her own computer yet. I really do trust HER, yet I do not trust the scary random pedophiles pretending to be sweet 14y/o boys like your sweet Sam. Alas, my dear girl is doomed to share the behemoth desktop computer with her younger brothers. At least until she guilts her Daddy into getting her a laptop for Christmas or her birthday. And she undoubtably will. He has much to feel guilty about, PLUS she has that whole SOUTHERN, passive/aggressive, martyr act down to a TEE. I’m so proud…..