Jun 15, 2010


My eleven year old son is mad at me. He's the only one of his peers who isn't allowed to have a Facebook account. I can handle him being annoyed with me about this, it's simple to me. I won't let him lie about his age and claim to be thirteen. That just seems wrong.

It's very clear-cut. In fact it's just about the ONLY clear-cut thing to me these days. When he's thirteen I'll sign him up myself. I have an account. I have nothing against it, and can see how it could even be a useful, if not insanely hovering, way to keep track of him, see what he and his pals are talking about, and so on and so forth.

A few months ago I sat with him to help him sign up for Facebook and it kept refusing him. Eventually I realized it was because he was too young. We tried to sign him up again, and I just kept looking at the birth-years it was offering. Having him claim to be born in 1996 was just so wrong to me.

I'm not always this clear on things. I don't have a firm stance on teeth-brushing (once a day is fine? skip it? no problem), movie ratings (I took him to see R-rated Kick-ass a few weeks ago and we both loved it), and we have very few limits on television--even just let him watch this (particularly brutal) season of 24. And in many ways I'm more permissive than many of these other moms. He's been riding the subway independently since he was ten, and did I mention I took him to see Kick-ass?

I've always enjoyed letting him be as up on what's current as he wants to be; I'm happy to send him out into the world able to keep up with water-cooler conversation. His love of Yu-gi-oh, and his ability to hold his own in a conversation about it, is what firmed up a bunch of his friendships on the first day of kindergarten, when he went off--painfully shy--to a brand new school. In theory I'd love him to have a Facebook account so he could communicate with every other boy in his class who has one. His email box is always full of new invitations to join. He can't believe I won't let him.

And I can't believe I'm the only hold-out. I'm universally undecided about things, and easily swayed.

I have a friend who feels like tattoos are the devil (I don't) and would much rather have her daughter pierce her belly button than ever ever get a tattoo. This baffles me, and reinforces for me how wishy-washy I tend to be about certain things. In my mind the piercing is so much more drastic. But tattoos or piercings? I don't know how I feel about them. And in reality, I'd probably be fine with either one.

But lying to join Facebook? I'm clear on this. I've let him order things online where he's had to check a box saying he was 18--because it was a one-time purchase and he was just the one at the keyboard handling the transaction. But claiming to be two years older to enter into this whole Facebook thing just seems drastic. He'll probably be on Facebook for the rest of his life. It's a longtime relationship, not a one-off like a movie or a pair of sneakers. I had a shtick at one point about how he'd be aging himself by two years, and that that would just be a crazy thing to do since those extra two years would just follow you online--forever (college applications, job interviews). It does occur to me though that you can probably change your age as often as you change your profile picture or your status. Maybe that's what all his friends will do (will the people at Facebook notice that some kids stay thirteen for two or three years?) Still. It just seems wrong.

And all of his friends are doing it? What are all of these parents thinking? Some of the most hyper-worried overly protective moms I know are allowing their eleven year olds to claim to be thirteen? Seriously, I'd love to know why. And not because I'm freaky-prudish about things because I am not freaky-prudish about anything. I'd just love to know how they justify it. I'm very curious to know how I--of all people--am the single unflinching parent out here. I am never THAT parent.

In order to join Facebook you have to be at least thirteen. Sorry kid. You're not.

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