As many of you know, Sean is now a 10-year-old boy and as such, I have had to learn to lengthen the leash, to give him a bit more freedom.
I have had to carefully calculate how much to lengthen the rope by the severity of the consequences that could befall any unfortunate decision he might make in this new space and then recalibrate and test the rope again just to make sure.
When he was little it was much much easier. I could allow him to roam to the other side of the playground where I could see him. I could let him ride his bike in the cul-de-sac where from the windows of the house I could see him. This arrangement was a win-win for both of us. He felt un-tethered and I felt tethered. He got to practice freedom and I got to practice letting him have a little freedom in laboratory conditions.
But now Sean is ten and lengthening the rope to allow him to go across the street or around the block seems like nothing compared to the internet. The stakes seem higher, but maybe they are not. Maybe they are just different stakes.
So, yes, I have of course done all the prudent things to lock down the internet, and we have had frank discussions about the dangers of the internet and made clear to him what he can and cannot do on-line, and why. But still. Nothing is fool proof and I am always on high-alert on this front.
So the other day, I told him that whenever he watches anything on Amazon Prime that I get an email, and that is true. I didn’t really know that until I got an email the other day from Amazon reporting that someone in our house had watched Square Bob Sponge Pants.
Let me say here, that Square Bob is not evil, I just don’t think he’s all that worthy and I have discouraged that he be viewed as such. So when I brought up the Amazon Big Brother email with Sean, Square Bob was really all I had in mind. And for all I know, AD had watched it. Although, I might have to rethink my marriage vows if that were true.
So when I told Sean about the Amazon email, he looked down at his shoes and said, “Well. Then I guess you know my secret.”
Opportunity knocked. At this point, I had not mentioned any specific show.
“Yes. Yes I do,” I lied as I dangled my unbaited fishing line in the water.
“I’m really embarrassed,” he admitted.
Now I was starting to wonder if maybe he had watched some other sort of lurid shape of pants, not square, and I panicked just a bit.
“Well,” I said, and then paused not for dramatic effect but because I could not think of one thing to say.
“I know,” he sighed, “Power Rangers.”
And then he scrunched up his nose like he had eaten something green, like a vegetable.
“It’s a baby show, I know, but I like it.”
“You know,” I said, “You can watch Power Rangers if you want. There is nothing wrong with that. I’ll be honest, I still love Captain Kangaroo.”
I reminded him that he knows what is acceptable and what isn’t and that we trust him.
And I also reminded him that Amazon would be sending me an email documenting his viewing whereabouts.
Like Ronald Reagan, I will trust and I will verify.
And then I may or may not have left the impression that anytime he does anything anywhere I get an email.