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Stalking Your Teenager

Pamela's Column for Pacific Publishing
May 2008


I have a sign that I put up on the front of my house every Halloween. It says ‘You Can’t Scare Me, I Have Teenagers.” While this statement has proven true on many occasions, it’s also true that the only things that can scare me are my teenagers themselves. Sometimes all they need to do is come up to me and ask me for money. Or tell me they have a girlfriend.

Ok, it’s not so much they tell me they have a girlfriend as I stalk them online to find out what’s going on in their lives and then discover the girlfriend. Myspace, Facebook and other social networking sites on the Internet are virtually (Get it? Virtually? Ha!) gold mines of information that your teenagers won’t willingly give you.

Oh sure, experts tell you to keep the lines of communication open between you and your teen. Sit them down, talk to them, have dinner with them, ask them questions. These experts have never seen an actual teenager in their natural habitat.

“So how are things going, son?”
“Grunt”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“Grunt”
“Ok. Um, that sounds good. How is school?”

This time the grunt was followed with a shrug. Progress! I’m getting verbal as well as non-verbal clues. The hard part is translating this into useful information. This is where stalking your teen online comes in handy.

If your teen is unaware that you are computer savvy, then you’re in luck. This means they might not have made their profiles on Facebook or Myspace private. You can read their thoughts, find out about their likes in music and film and people.

A word of warning here: you may discover things you don’t want to know. You know, like your child is a Super Delegate and is about to vote for Hillary despite being pledged to Obama. This is the stuff of nightmares.

Or you could do what I did and find out that despite your many warnings, pleadings, exhortations and ultimatums, your 18 year old daughter went out and got herself a tattoo anyway.
Did I mention that your teenager can put pictures up on their profiles? Why yes, yes they can. Some of those pictures will curl your hair, if you still have any after having raised them to this point.

I was looking through my daughter’s Facebook, as well as her friend’s and discovered a picture of her where her shirt was up a bit and showed her belly. You know, the belly that I used to tickle. The belly I used to blow raspberries on. The little belly that I kissed and loved and…hang on. I need a tissue.

Ok, where was I? Oh yeah. Her beautiful perfect little tummy. It’s been defiled. Right there online I saw a tattoo on her right hip.

Now the problem I had was how to let her know I knew without letting her know just how I knew. Once they find out you’re stalking them online it’s like getting downwind of a herd of antelope in the Serengeti. They’ll race off in the other direction and you’ll never again be able to get close enough to draw blood. I mean that in the nicest possible way of course.

So the next time we were in the same room together, something she tried very hard to avoid, I watched as she reached up into a cupboard for a glass. This caused her shirt to rise up and since her sweat pants were already hanging dangerously low on her hips, the tattoo was there for all to see.

“What’s that?
“What’s what?”
“Right there on your hip?”
“Nothing”

And just like that, the lines of communication were open. It was like a virtual floodgate had been breached and words came gushing out.

If you consider seven words to be gushing.
“I’m 18 and I can do what I want”

I think I’ll stick to learning about them online.

Comments

  1. They don't know you've got a blog, of course.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How my heart bleeds for those poor children. I see they have written about you at "mymomisaninterferingoldtrout.com"
    And please desist from provocative headings. My local constabulary say that I mustn't do that anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes Dave, they do know I have a blog. They also know I keep track of them online. It's all good. For the most part.

    Vicus, my heading wasn't provocative unless of course you were coming here for tips on how to stalk someone else's teenager. If that's the case then I'll going to have to revise my opinion of you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I laughed... I cried... this is one of your more brilliant posts! Thanks Pammy!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Pammy, I came here yesterday and read this post. It's brilliant, but I refrained from commenting because, well, you know my views on bringing up kids - and to be honest does it matter. Your kids are doing fine, so in the end I think the important ingredient is LOVE.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Awww Kindness, you're so sweet. Vicus could take lessons from you. Then of course he wouldn't be that potty-mouthed-curmudgeon that we've all come to know and love, would he?

    Tommy dear. I thought you'd stopped reading my blog. Yes, you're right, love is important and there is plenty of love here. I have four pieces of my heart walking around outside of my body.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a hoot. I know the feeling. My almost 21 year old just got her first (and we can only hope last) tattoo. Of course she hasn't shown or told us, but her sister knows and had to announce it. sigh. I'm sooo glad she's not living here -- at least I don't have to deal with it every day. What is it about tattos???
    Anyway, wanted to let you know I've tagged you on my blog. Wanna plaY?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Could you give me the web addy .....

    ReplyDelete

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