So, I accidentally caught Big Kid in an act of -- rebellion? defiance? lying by omission? I'm not sure. I ended up not being as mad as I probably should be, so I don't know which word to use.
Both kids love YouTube videos about video games. I know. It's bad. Videos about video games...I, too, roll my eyes at the very thought. But whatever. During our negotiations in getting permission to watch these videos, I explained that my objections were really with YouTube comments, more than video content.
I think I said something along the lines of, "Those people are serious morons and I don't want you around them." A kind and compassionate explanation. They both agreed and promised not to read the comments.
Yeah, I know. Everyone reads at least a couple of the comments, they are an irresistible train wreck. This whole post should be filed under "Parenting fail #gazillion" since I've lost count.
Then, months later when the issue had died down, I began getting strange google + notifications on my phone. At first I was excited because I thought maybe I finally did google + right and people there loved me, but the links all led to an alias I didn't recognize critiquing videos, movies, music and pop culture. Confused, I read comment chains and, although the subject matter was completely inane (to me), I was surprised at how well thought out and articulate the comments were.
It took longer than it should have, but not very long, to realize it was Big Kid. I'm still not 100% sure if I'm seeing YouTube comments or google + comments or what is going on, but somehow my phone gets push notifications from his account, so I see everything he types.
I wasn't really sure how to handle it because he shouldn't have been doing that, but I was also a little interested in what was going on here, and didn't want to blow my cover since this seemed like a fortunate parental gift, this sneak peek at what goes on when adults aren't watching.
Had he been your typical internet commenter, I would have been more upset. But he just seemed so mature and respectful and the grammar was lovely. The other people in the conversations he joined were also normal-ish...interested in odd things but not the terrible idiots I've witnessed before. Even debates were mild and as well thought out as arguments about gaming consoles can be. I felt very torn between pointing out his infraction and watching to see what would happen.
But one day I couldn't resist and I confronted him about it, not revealing my source.
"I know you comment on YouTube or Google + or whatever," I said. This is my go-to mothering method. I like to drop a bomb of information and quickly gauge reaction and then go from there based on their level of guilt or concern.
He looked back at me, calm but curious.
"I'm not mad but you know you're not supposed to do that." I continued, this time waiting for a reply.
"I don't use my real name."
"Yeah, that's good. What's going on there isn't so bad, I'm just disappointed that you weren't honest with me. Though I will say that I appreciated your language and maturity on the comments I saw. "
He nodded. "You know that wiki I edit?"
I do know about the wiki he edits, although I still don't really fully understand what a wiki even is, but I have seen this and it seems like a harmless hobby.
"That guy has no idea that I'm a 10-year-old. Who would let a KID edit their work? But, man, he needed the help. I haven't lied about my age but I do try to act and type like someone responsible and I would never bring up my age on purpose."
"I just don't want you talking to any weirdos on the internet."
"I just talk in the comments, and edit that wiki. I won't do anything else, I promise."
I trust him.
And I also installed a key logger on that computer and I avidly read those notifications on my phone.