My six-year-old was home from school having a supposed ‘sick day’ when she asked me if she could play on the computer.
“Only if it’s Mathletics or Reading Eggs,” I told her.
Like most parents, I know my daughter better than that, and her version of ‘okay’ generally means ‘whatever’ or ‘I didn’t hear you but I’ll pretend I did’ or ‘I’m agreeing with you to avoid a debate but I’m going to go do the opposite as soon as you turn your back’.
“I’ll do a spot check,” I said. “If I catch you playing something else there’ll be no more computers or iPads for the rest of the week.”
Ten minutes later, I walked towards her for the impending ‘spot check’ and she slammed the lid of the laptop shut so fast that the resulting gush of air blew her fringe upwards to reveal an unmasked look of guilt on her face.
I lifted the computer off her lap (which was actually more like a tug of war game) and I flipped the laptop lid open. My eyes widened. My jaw dropped. I froze.
The screen was covered in graphic porn.
Images of lesbian sex flashed at me.
Men’s erect penises pointed at me.
Now I felt like the one needing a ‘sick day’.
I looked at my daughter. “What are you doing looking at this?”
“It just popped up. I reached for my water,” she said, turning sideways to mimic lifting her water bottle off the table, “and when I looked back it was on the screen.”
I tilted my head. “Are you sure about that?”
I clicked the History tab on the toolbar:
The next listings may as well have read your-daughter-is-a-big-fat-lier.com
the poo song
the bum song
My heart pumped so hard I could hear the pulse in my ears. I took a deep breath and sat down next to my daughter for a calm, ten-minute conversation about the dangers of the Internet, child appropriate content… Our discussion went well. She seemed to understand the brevity of her actions. She showed remorse. Then I announced, “No computers or iPads for the rest of the month.”
She shrugged flippantly and said, “You’ll forget.”
Hot blood rushed to my head, not only due to her disrespect, but because she was right, I would bloody forget.
I took another deep breath, turned on my heels, laptop under my arm, and I sat down to Google a tekkie company to put child restrictions on all our devices. Now all my daughter can access online is Mathletics.com and ReadingEggs.com
Funnily enough, she hasn’t faked another sick day since.