Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Little Boy is Becoming a Man (or, How My Hubby's Laptop Bit the Dust)

My oldest son officially became a teenager yesterday. Yep, the big ONE-THREE. He's been walking around the house with that teen attitude for a while. Funny how his attitude is so very similar to the Terrible Twos. He's whining a lot. He's doing things he knows he's not allowed to do just to test his boundaries and, when he gets caught, he has a tantrum - stomping, slamming doors, throwing his toys, a-hem, I mean stuff (I've recently been informed that he doesn't play with "toys" anymore.)

I know this is a difficult time for him. After all, I turned 13 once. I remember thinking that I'd wake up with a ton of maturity (and some boobs!) I had very high hopes. I thought that I'd feel different, at least. I was sorely disappointed. I can see that he's feeling the same way. He kept saying, "I thought today would feel different. But it's just like any other day." I tried to cheer him up by telling him that, as you get older, birthdays just don't feel as special. I told him it was a sign of maturity.

Anyway, he's been doing more and more adult things lately. When he wakes up in the morning, he stumbles to the coffee pot. He pours exactly 1/4 inch of coffee into his mug, then fills it up with milk and adds Ovaltine. Once his "coffee" is downed, he usually says something like, "Man! I really needed my coffee this morning!" (Do you know how hard it is not to burst out laughing at that?!) He's paying a little more attention to his personal care. And his jokes run more toward the sarcastic and ironic rather than the old knock-knock variety.

Now, I know that kids this age just want to act like the most mature in their group, trying to out-do each other by relating what their parent allow them to do. Sometimes, they're telling the truth but, most of the time, they're telling fish stories. I once overheard him telling his friends that I let him shave. Um... well, I guess if he needed it I'd "let" him! This brings me to the "computer incident".

After watching his little brother for two hours while I cleaned and cooked dinner, I agreed to let him use my husband's laptop for an hour. This was a special privilege - after I got a virus from one of his game site a year ago, I've been making him use the library's computers. I gave him the whole speech about not clicking on pop-ups or going off the one particular site he said he was going to. That's when the crash came from the living room where my toddler was playing. So, I left him to his own devices to go find out what kind of mess I was going to have to clean up this time.

After about 45 minutes, he came out of the bedroom and told me he was done. Apparently his game had ended and he didn't have enough time to start a new one. OK. When my husband turned on the laptop, later that evening, he said it was acting weird - slow, pages kept loading that he didn't click to, etc. Then, it happened: the entire screen turned Pepto Bismol Pink and was covered in tiny little skulls with "Pink P***y" (use your imagination!) written under them. He did the first thing any husband whose wife was in the next room might do: tried desperately to shut the computer down! It didn't work. After about 10 minutes, he finally called me in to help.

After seeing his bright red cheeks (even through the beard) and how he wouldn't look me in the eye, I was really wondering what was going on. I burst out laughing when I saw that pink screen! After regaining a little composure, I was able to get online to at least see where the virus came from. It was an adult site that specializes in computers games. Not my style but pretty inventive, if you ask me. He kept insisting that he had never gone to the site. A little more investigation revealed that the site had been used during my son's little trip on the internet.
It looked like this, only worse!

I wasn't quite sure how to bring this up to him. I mean he's curious, right? I didn't want him thinking I approved of his hitting sites like that (especially on our HOME computers!) But I also didn't want him to feel like he couldn't talk to me about sex. So, I chose to embarrass him. When he got home from school the next day, I sat him down in front of the computer. I knew that he was aware of the problem because he wouldn't look at me. When the pink screen came up, I had him read what it said to me (yeah, just imagine saying that to your mom!) Then I had him explain some of the games he had played to me. After that came the huge lecture and grounding.

The computer was so infected that we had to have someone come take care of it for us - $75!!! My son is now called "Bidderman" until he works off the money we had to spend to get the laptop up and running. What's a "Bidderman", you ask? That is someone who does your bidding. For instance, around here a Bidderman might change diapers, wash dishes, clean the litter box, shovel snow... whatever I want, whenever I ask for it. Attitude plays a huge part in what a job is worth to me. If the trash is taken out immediately after I ask, and it's done with a smile, it might be worth a dollar - putting it off or huffing around while doing it may result in it being deemed a 10-cent job.

So, what would you have done in my situation? This teenage stuff is all new to me. Do you (or would you) allow for more freedom of choice? I am so afraid of alienating him if I'm too rough and strict, but I don't want to be one of those parents who seems oblivious to everything, too.


Stacy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I have learned not to ask my teens. if i know they did it I just say I know you did this, you can deny it all you want but I know it was you and it's not cool. I've informed my boys that porn may excite them and my interest them but it degrades women and makes them think they are not good enough for you because you have to go elsewhere. now i know that statement is geared more towards adults but after all i'm grooming them to be adults so why not instill adult thinking on some maters. I even went so far as to say, perhaps this is something that you and your someday wife might explore together. who knows. but while you are in my house you wont' explore it at all because I'm not ok with you doing it. I've also explained to them, if it's not something you can proudly come up to me and tell me about, if you have to hide to do it (what ever it might be) then it's probably not ok to do/say. Or course there are some things that my teens boys probably, may or may not do that I sure don't want to know about but that's a given. LOL I have said over and over that there isn't a whole lot of difference in how I parent my 3 year old and how I parent my 17 year old.

Alicia C. said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks for the input. I like how you put it - if they can't proudly come up to you and tell you something, then they shouldn't be doing it.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh bless! Has he started puffing out his chest as he walks yet? Kind of like 'Hey! I'm a man!'

As for the porn thing, I explained that it was all perfectly natural to be curious, but to responsible - mild, topless pictures were one thing, but there is some some very degrading,unnatural stuff out there - images that could warp a growing boy's perception of women and sex.

I think you handled it really well - be open and honest. You can't stop them looking - even with parental settings, the little buggers soon work out how to disable them - but you can persuade them to make an informed choice, I think.

Love the idea of a Bidderman - I WANT ONE!

Alicia C. said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

LOL - Check out these pictures. He's not only puffing out his chest, he's walking around shirtless!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Great photos - I just saw them on your birthday post! Lol! You gotta love 'em! :-)

Melissa + Tiffany @ Home Grown Families said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I think you handled it very well!! PORN RUINS FAMILIES!!! It was a big reason I left my husband. It's not curiosity- it's perversion!! Of course there is curiosity. Curiosity is trying to peek into the girls locker room as you walk past...
You handled it well! IDK what I would do if I had boys... :)
We're following you now!!

Bernie said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

You don't think he was upset at waking up at 13 and not having boobs, too? *teasing*
I like how you compare 13 and 2, good comparison. I never would have thought of that.
I like how you handled it. Good job!