Today is the last day of school.

As I was getting Little Bit ready to walk out the door, I told her, “Today is the last day you will be in Kindergarten. After today, you will never be a Kindergartener again. You’ll be a First Grader!”

She is so excited about moving up to the next grade.

But, as I said it, I realized – Today is the last day I’ll be the mother of a kindergartener.  My baby girl is growing up.

And, with that, comes a whole host of new challenges and discoveries – for all of us.

But, life is like that – once you think you have it all figured out, they go and change the rules on you. 

Big Girl is wanting to branch out more on the internet.  Which is a scary thought for me.  She wanted her own email account, so I set one up with copious protections.  She wanted her own laptop.  Ammi & PopPop took care of that one – and then I set up a bajillion protections on it (which drives her crazy and makes me happy because I know she is safe)

Now, she wants to be on Facebook. 

Really?image

That one is just a little far out there for me.

Now, granted, the reason she wants to be on Facebook is because she wants to play the games.  But, goodness, that is like opening Pandora’s Box to me.  There are ALL KINDS of things on Facebook that I don’t want her exposed to.  And I’m not sure I’m savvy enough with FB’s settings to shelter her from them.

But, I also know she is savvy enough to figure out how to create her own FB account and if I’m not careful that is what will happen eventually.

So, do I cave and let her have one?

Right now, she plays the games on either SuperMan’s FB account or mine (so if you see me reaching some awesome level on Farmville, that’s Big Girl, not me.) That stopped the requests for her own FB account temporarily.

But, I know it is coming. She’ll be haunting me (again) for her own.  “All my friends have one” is the current mantra.

And my response is the tried-and-true parenting classic “If all your friends jumped off the bridge, would you?”

But, this does bring up the question – when will it be time to loosen those reins just a little and let her try some things?  I can’t keep them in Kindergarten forever, as much as I want to.  I can’t keep them tied to my apron strings (and safely tucked behind me) for the rest of their lives. And, I don’t really want to – not really.  I want them to fly free. I want them to experience new things.

I just don’t want them to run smack into the realities of life that are out there – the weirdos who prey on kids, the inappropriate content that is everywhere and that no one seems to care about – all that stuff will come soon enough. Why should they rush into it?

So, what’s a mom to do?

If you have kids, how are you handling these things? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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6 thoughts on “Moving forward

  1. Totally none of my business, but I think first grade is much too young for FB. I have twin graduating high school seniors and two middle schoolers. My twins joined FB when they started high school. If my middle schoolers asked, I would probably let them join now, with the stipulation that they “friend” me so I can see everything they are doing.
    There are plenty of other safe places for your daughter to explore the Internet without getting into the soup that is FB. My younger boys had a blast on Club Penguin when they were in elementary school. I don’t know much about them, but I’ve heard good things about Togetherville and Imbee. Look around, I’m sure there are plenty more.
    I’ll tell you one story that happened to our family. When my daughter was 14, she started hanging around a chat room related to the book and the musical Wicked. She met someone online and developed a friendship. I took her and a group of friends to see the show. Unbeknownst to me, she had made plans to meet up at the show with the girl she had met online. The short story is that everything was fine; the girl and her parents were both at the show, the two girls are still friends four years later. The long story is that it scared me nearly to death when I imagined what could have happened. We had many long discussions about how you can never really KNOW someone you meet online. When I asked her how she knew that this person was a teenage girl and not a 45 year old man, she said: “I just know.” When I told her that she didn’t know, that people pretend all the time online, she freaked out and burst into tears.
    Sorry to drag on. The Internet is a wondrous place with so many valuable resources for our children, but we can’t even begin to know everything that goes on. I believe I really have to be vigilant to keep my children safe, while still letting them explore the advantages of technology. Good luck with your own efforts.
    BTW, visiting you via SheWrites.
    Susan
    http://2kop.blogspot.com

  2. Susan,
    you are SO right. First grade is WAY too young. Big Girl is going into fourth grade, but I think even that is too young – for exactly the same reasons you describe in your comment. I haven’t heard of Club Penguin. I will have to check it out. Thank you for the recommendation. They have asked to join the Barbie website as members, but at $76 a year for membership, I think that is a little steep.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Age: 18! Okay, I think it was 16 for my now young adult son, and that’s about the earliest I can imagine someone having the street smarts to handle this. Honestly, there are reasons that companies cannot collect information or establish accounts on anyone under 13. Before then, how would any of us have had the reasoning abilities to know one can’t take things at face value, to recognize warning signs, or to extricate oneself from a dangerous situation.
    My older son and I attended a school district sponsored workshop on Internet safety when he was in his late teens. He came right home and removed a lot of personal information from his site–not for himself, but to protect the women and children of the family!
    The presenter had done extensive research and she showed us how fast a predator can track a child down. Here’s one example that really struck me: the cop demonstrating picked a free online ad offering Beanie Babies, with a female name and the remark, “Call after 5.” With reverse lookup, a map to the nearest school, and the school’s release schedule, it took only those three steps for a wolf to be right there, lying in wait for her.
    There are these sites that give younger kids the semblance of a social site, but beyond the safety issues, it’s also a crucial challenge to keep our children reading, creating, playing, and interacting in the real world, and I’m committed to protecting the development of mine! I’m willing to be the strictest mom on the planet, and it’s paying off. I love it that my children excel in ways they never could have managed if their online life had started any earlier.
    A couple years ago, I apologized to my older son about being so overprotective all his life. He picked me up, swung me around, and said, “Thank you for protecting me, Mommy! It worked!”

  4. Gwyn,
    You are SO right. You can never be too careful because I think those of us who are the honest ones are way more naive than we need to be when it comes to safety. I have pretty much decided we will limit Big Girl’s access to FB to only mine or SuperMan’s accounts. That way we know exactly who she is talking with and interacting with and can monitor her activities. She may think she is grown up, but it is up to me to be sure she gets the chance TO grow up!
    Thanks for the advice!

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