Two things have happened this week that have made me want to shove my babies back in their cribs and stick a binky in their mouths. First, Gracie went to the AR store at her school (which is where they get to spend their reading “points” they collect throughout the quarter) and came home with a tube of glittery lip gloss. And not the chapstick kind of lip gloss that I let her use. Like, real lip gloss. Like, with a little sponge tip on the end and glitter in the tube.
When I picked her up from aftercare, she came sashaying up to me, and announced, “Do you notice anything about me?”
“There’s make up on your face,” I said, dumbstruck.
(I’d like a gold star for stopping myself from saying, “You look like a tiny streetwalker,” which was what almost came out of my mouth…)
“It’s my lip gloss I bought today,” she said, grinning, and then she whipped that lip gloss wand into her back pocket and strutted away to find her backpack. We had to run to the library on our way home that afternoon and I snapped one picture of her lip gloss in her back pocket before I hissed, “Get that thing out of your back pocket!” because she was looking just a wee too big for her cute little britches for a hot second.
The other thing that happened involved Bean and scared the bejesus out of me. Bean had a friend over this past week and they had been playing on our computer for a little while. Turns out, they downloaded a website called Roblox, which is an online gaming website that allows you to create characters and play online games with over 44 million other users. The games do look like something a kid Bean’s age would like. But yesterday when I saw him playing something I didn’t recognize, I sat down and ask him to show it to me.
The game allows gamers to contact each other through private messaging, chat rooms, and live chat feeds on most of the games. So, what looked like a harmless game to Bean, could have been adults of any age trying to chat with him. The game also caught my attention because I remembered seeing the name somewhere on Facebook not too long ago. Turns out, there have been sexual predators caught on the site, trying to lure children through the messaging and chat features. They can also make their characters do questionable things to other characters, if you get my drift…
Thank goodness Chris came home just as I was watching Bean walk me through the website because I don’t think I was prepared to have a conversation like this on my own, especially without any kind of preparation. I mean, I know about internet safety, but I thought it was something we would need to worry about in, like, middle school. I wasn’t ready in just second grade.
We didn’t freak out on Bean. It wasn’t his or his friend’s fault. They were just looking for a new game to play. But we did talk to him about how this game was different from other computer games he plays. We explained that through this game, he could have strangers trying to talk to him and that, just like in real life, it is not safe to talk to strangers. We showed him where the chats were and where the messages were, and I was horrified to find that in the short 48 hours since Bean and his buddy had made the account, Bean had over 50 private messages waiting in his inbox. He said he didn’t even know he had messages and that he hadn’t read anything, and we told him we believed him because we trusted him.
(Note Gracie’s streetwalker lip gloss in this picture.)
And then we said we were going to block the website from his login user (we have a separate user name for the kids to use when they are on our computer that we have set up as more secure than mine and Chris’s user name; plus, we didn’t want them accidentally getting into something important on our computer and deleting or altering anything. Having separate accounts helps us keep our things separate from the kids. They don’t have our password and their own user name is locked down for security, for situations like this…). We explained that he was getting to the age where he and his friends would start to have more freedom and choices, and we hoped we could trust him that wherever he was – at our house, at a friend’s house, at school – that if we said he couldn’t be on he website, he wouldn’t be on that website. He promised and seemed to understand that this was really important.
He went outside to play and Chris and I sat there for a little bit, shellshocked. Maybe I was naive, but I really did not expect this kind of issue at this age.
The world is a scary place when your kids are growing up. I can remember when they were little bitties and the smallest things around the house seemed like death traps. As they got older, I worried about strangers and dangers from outside our home. Now, I guess the dangers are back inside our own house again, as crazy as that sounds. Chris and I are vigilant parents, and I am so glad that we are. I hate to even think about what Bean might have been exposed to had I not sat down with him to play his computer games one day.
So, yeah. I’m going to need my kids to stay babies for the rest of their lives. I want to go back to the days where electrical outlets and metal forks were their biggest threat.
Ahhh… Tiny sparks of electrocution… those were the days…