Dear Dave

Friday 13 March 2009

Geeks before their time

Dear Dave,

Glad to hear Daisy's over the chickenpox and Sam's recovered from the stomach bug.

It's obviously a shame that Sam's now covered in spots and Daisy's started throwing up but, honestly, you were probably expecting this eventuality. (I know I was.) Good luck. Another year or two and you'll be able to look back and laugh...

Would you believe that someone told me recently that parenting only gets harder as the children get older?

It really wasn't what I wanted to hear.

Apparently, the amount of physical labour required in caring for them goes down but the other stuff becomes more difficult. Sometimes they behave like adults and they can be dealt with as equals; other times, though, it has to be remembered that they're still children and they don't have the experience or sense to make good decisions themselves. Finding the balance is not so much treading a fine line, it's more like battling through a constantly shifting war zone.

On learning this, my only consolation was that I don't have to worry about it for a few years yet...

Then again, what do I know? When Fraser got stuck in one of his DS games last week, I told him I'd 'look the answer up on the computer'. I didn't go into any of the details and I spared him words such as 'online' and 'internet', so as not to overtax his young mind. I fully expected him to be thrilled when I obtained the information he required and to act like I'd produced it with the wave of a wand.

More fool me.

He took it all in his stride and barely remembered to say thank you. Then, three days later, he came out of school and said, "What do you think I looked up on Google Images today?"

I did a double-take for two reasons:
  1. I hardly dared imagine what he'd managed to find on Google Images.
  2. I didn't know my eight-year-old had heard of Google, let alone been let loose on it.
As it turned out, he'd merely been ogling Pokémon cards but I remained concerned. Even assuming the school has all kinds of blocks and filters set up to protect pupils from unsuitable material (and that's a BIG assumption), we don't have any in place at home. I realised I was suddenly in a world of parental locks and warnings about dodgy chatrooms - a world that I hadn't expected to encounter for several more years.

I felt the need to check I'd heard right. "You've been using Google at school?" I queried.

The children ignored me as always. Lewis turned to Fraser and said, "The last time I used Google, I looked up the National Museum of Flight."

My brain exploded. He's six.

Then the pair of them had an argument over whether it's easier to Google by going through Internet Explorer or Firefox.

Needless to say, I found this all deeply troubling in so many different ways...

Yours in a woman's world,


PS Marie wanted to wear her Santa outfit to nursery today. Since March isn't a particularly traditional time of year for Santa outfits, I was somewhat reluctant. Nevertheless, she was adamant. For once, I decided to be a spontaneous, fun-loving parent and not worry about it. She skipped happily into the playroom and I shrugged off the confused looks from the staff.

It was only later I remembered that today is photo day...

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