My friend recently told me that an 8th grader got in-school suspension for sending a nude photo of herself to a boy. The kicker is that not only was she naked, she was fingering herself. The boys, all well versed in federal child pornography laws, did not share the photo and therefore the only one in trouble was the girl herself. When I heard the story, I thought, how do they even know what that is?
“They know. You are kidding yourself,” my friend told me.
“Not my son”
“Your son. My son. They know”
So I went home and I did the only sensible thing- I checked our computer’s search history. It was a mile long of YouTube videos of sneakers and football. Then I remembered: my son is smart. He knows how to search “incognito.” That was a waste of an effort.
I can tell from the smattering of pimples on his forehead and cheeks that he is in fact going through puberty. My younger son has announced that he doesn’t want to go through puberty because he doesn’t want a hairy penis like his brother. I guess that with hairy penises comes an interest in girls and in today’s internet society, that means looking at photos of girls. Naked. Probably with their hands in places that would shock.
What did I expect to find and what was I going to do with the information any way? I don’t really want to know. He doesn’t want to tell me either.
Growing up, I never told my mother anything. Notwithstanding the time that I had my wisdom teeth removed, my boyfriend (now husband) was never allowed on the second floor of the house. I never told her about my first kiss, my first anything. I drove myself to the gynecologist and got birth control and filled the prescription without a word. Thinking back, she probably got the information from the health insurance provider, but never discussed anything.
I knew about the mechanics of sex from my mother. She gave me books, I read. Going to a Quaker school, we had excellent sex ed. My older brother filled in the blanks. But, we didn’t have internet porn or digital photography. We certainly would never have taken a photo of ourselves, driven to the photo shop in a strip mall, had it developed and given it to an unsuspecting guy.
I am sick of parents who want to be friends with their kids. I don’t need more friends. I have plenty of friends.
The lack of boundaries doesn’t help kids. Boundaries help self esteem, fosters independence, self reliance and resiliency. My job is to make sure that my son knows not to forward the photo. I have to teach him how to treat girls (and everyone) with respect. I have to make sure my daughter has the self esteem to never take the photo in the first place.
My kid doesn’t need me as his friend either. He has them, too. In fact, he has the kind of friends who show him photos of classmates going to third base on themselves. What more could a kid need?
This author has chosen to remain anonymous so that her son doesn’t bust her for writing this.