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.

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