Why I Let My 8 Year Old Have an Email Account

My son had been pestering me for weeks.

“How old do I have to be to get email?” “When can I get an email account?” “Can I get an email account now?” “How about now? Am I old enough now?”

Every time he would ask for an email account, I would ask the same questions.

“Why do you want an email account?” “Who is so important to an 8 year-old to email?”

Why I Let My 8 Year Old Have Email

His logic wasn’t rational.  Like wanting to be able to email me to let me know where he was.  While in our house.  Or “texting” us from the bathroom while we’re in a store so that we know he’s okay.

Because knowing someone’s taking a dump is high on my priority list of information needs.

My son had recently been bequeathed my husband’s ancient iPod touch, which was nothing more than a glorified Minecraft machine. It has no 3G or 4G network, and the only access to anything cool is by the WiFi network in our home. In order for him to email us, he’d have to be in our house with us.  Which doesn’t make email the most efficient method of communication when he can’t find his baseball mitt.

After many, many, many requests, and some decent proposals and reasons why, my son’s questioning broke me down and I agreed to let him have an email account.  The persuasive arguments that won me over were the ones that appealed to my soft side. He wanted to be able to keep in touch with his cousin, his aunts and uncles, and his grandparents.

Having our family spread out all over the country, how can I say no to that?

I didn’t embark on this lightly.  My husband and I set down some very strict guidelines. I had to have access to his password.  I was going to monitor all of the emails coming in and going out from his email address. He wouldn’t be allowed to click on any link he received without asking. And he wasn’t allowed to email anyone that wasn’t in our family without asking permission.

Once the rules were put in place and agreed upon, we registered his email address and got it set up on his iPod and my retired laptop.

And then the emailing began.

At first, he just emailed me and my husband. They were simple one word emails, like “hi!” and “awesome!” and grew to short sentences like “i love you!”

But once he really got the hang of things, his emails became an extension of himself.

I began to see his humor.  To see his wickedly fast wit, getting all the jokes we’d reply with and volleying equally funny ones back to us. To see his knowledge of when it’s most effective to use ALL CAPS.

And then he started taking photos of all of us and sending them to our inbox.

Quick little snapshots that I thought he was taking for the fun of hearing the shutter. But he quickly became adept at tweaking those head shots in whatever app he could find on his phone.

The day he sent me this photo from his iPod was the day that I fully embraced him having an email address:

8 year old email

That’s me. Smiling at him. And my son adding his own artistic flair to what would otherwise be a pretty boring photo. He could have typed “Gina” or “Mommy” or “Loser.” But he chose “She…” And I love it.

Pictures like this give me added insight in to what’s going on in that small but mighty brain my son has. It sheds a little light on how he sees me. And that is always more warm and pleasant than how I see myself.

Months later, the novelty has worn off a little, and the volume of emails being sent and received has trickled off a bit, but my son still enjoys telling folks he has his own email account.

More importantly, he loves being able keep in touch with family on his own.  Grandparents are sending him short emails about things they think are interesting. His cousin sends book recommendations that she thinks he should read, like their own private book club. My son gets to establish his own relationship with family independent of his parents, and he loves how that makes him feel.

I know there will come a day where we will have to more closely worry about what he’s using his email address for. But for the time being, I’m just going to enjoy getting pinged by my son, telling me that he thinks I’m awesome.

Mammaries of the way we were…

Seeing as how I’m approaching 40 in a few months, my OB/GYN thought it was a good idea to get a baseline screening, so I had my first mammogram last week.

Fun times, right?

Got the ole gals slapped up on a little shelf and squished in a machine so they could take a look at my mammaries.

It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Well, I really didn’t think it was going to be that bad to begin with, but I thought I’d have to be trapped with my boobs in a vice for quite some time.

Wouldn’t you know it, I was in and out of the office in less than 10 minutes.  Easy peasy.

The worst part happened before I even got in the car.


Earlier that day, I had warned my two kids that they were going to have to accompany me to a doctor’s appointment that afternoon.  They wouldn’t be allowed in the room with me, so before we left, we’d need to gather some books or something to keep them occupied so that they wouldn’t either charge the scan room every ten seconds or destroy the waiting room.

As vague as I tried to be, my daughter just kept heckling me.  “What kind of doctor IS IT?“  “Why can’t we come in?” “How come you don’t feel comfortable with me in the room while you’re completely naked, with your boobs and your pride crushed like a bug?”

Thankfully, my husband was able to rearrange things at work to take the kids off my hands so I could get my mammogram in peace.  The plan was for my daughter and I to pick my son up at camp and meet my husband at the parking lot of my doctor’s office to do a quick hand-off.

The thought process being that it would save me the humiliation of having to bring my children in to view yet another awkward lady appointment.  Because I still don’t think my daughter has recovered from accompanying me to my yearly gynecologist appointment a month ago.

Scarred. For. Life.

So, I picked up my son in his classroom and we’re walking out the door with a bunch of other families who are waiting to say goodbye and thanks to the camp counselors.  And just after my son says “Thanks!” and gives the male counselor a High Five, my daughter blurts out

“We’re going with my Mommy to her doctor’s appointment so she can get her boobies flattened like pancakes!”

Cue red cheeks and nervous laughter.

Lesson learned.  Be careful what I divulge to the kids.

Actually, this latest story is not the most embarrassing that’s every happened to me concerning my chest.

My now-husband and I had been dating for a little over a year when we went to visit his family up at a lake to celebrate the summer.  The entire family was there:  grandmothers, great-aunts, uncles once removed, teenage cousins.

It was a super fun day.  We took the boat out on the lake a few times, enjoyed some tubbing, and had a great lunch out on the patio.

As I reached down to pick up something off the ground during lunch clean-up, I heard a SNAP!

Then I felt a breeze.

The clasp to my bikini top had busted and sent all the cloth covering my girls flying like a slingshot.

In my panic, I just flailed and screeched and tried to grab a nearby towel.  My sister-in-law quickly came to my rescue, but not before every relative of my boyfriend had gotten a good look at my boobs.

I was mortified.  The ladies in the family came to my side and escorted me in to the house, where there was a vigorous search for a sewing kit.

It was then that my boyfriend’s mother told me her own personal tales of humiliation and costume malfunctions.

Sadly, after breastfeeding two children for a total of 32 months, there ain’t nothing really left to see now if that scenario had happened today.

It’s probably why my mammogram took a millisecond.



What to expect when you’re expecting the tooth fairy..

This morning will be the last time I see my 7 year-old’s mouth like this:

tooth fairy

Because in just a few short hours, the dentist will “wiggle” those two bottom teeth loose.

Wiggle? Really?  When I was a kid, the dentists weren’t so flowery and dainty about the vocabulary.  My teeth were pulled or extracted. The harsh verb fit the rough-sounding action, right?

My son is probably the only 7 year-old I know who hasn’t lost a tooth yet.  And now, his adult teeth have broken the skin and started coming up behind the two baby teeth which aren’t budging in the least.  Not even a little bit.  Not even a little of a little bit.

Apparently this situation runs in the boys of my family. One of my brothers had 19 out of his 20 baby teeth removed.  19!  The poor kid never really got to feel the anticipation of having a tooth shimmy a little, then a lot, then finally come out while eating corn on the cob.

And now, I worry that my son might suffer the same plight.   I told my son that the tooth fairy comes either way, so he doesn’t seem to be too worried.

tooth fairy

The bonus to all of this?  I’m spared the gruesome experience of watching those teeth dangle by a thin thread for days on end.  Because even just thinking about that makes the hair raise on my forearms.

This dentist appointment has been in our calendar now for a couple of weeks, which has given my son lots time to build up excitement and anticipation about the Tooth Fairy’s upcoming visit.  Not to mention that we’ve had last feasts of corn on the cob, apples, ribs, and anything he can sink his front teeth in to.

It has to be weird for my son to know the exact day the Tooth Fairy is coming.  But I guess it’s like the work of any other one of those characters from Rise of the Guardians.  Though I do wonder how kids would behave if they knew the day Santa Claus would deliver presents was a bit of a roulette wheel.

Now that the Tooth Fairy’s visit is approaching, there’s been some debate about how much the Tooth Fairy brings for this sort of thing.  Originally, I was thinking $5 for the first tooth, $1 for every other tooth thereafter.

But now?  Now that the teeth he’s had for six years, the very first teeth that showed up on those adorable baby gums, the ones that changed my baby in to a pre-toddler will be yanked with the aide of nitrous oxide from his mouth?  Now I’m thinking the Tooth Fairy needs to up the ante a bit.

So, today we head to the dentist.  Going in is a young little boy and coming out is a toothless kid.  A KID.  I will try as hard as I can to share in my son’s excitement at losing his first teeth.

And steel myself from wanting to succumb to collapsing in a crying heap at the thought of the last parts of my baby falling away.

80′s Song Or Something Kids Say?

80's song

Last week, as the kids were knee-deep in a standoff, my daughter yelled something at her brother that gave me pause.

“You can’t touch this!”

Immediately, I felt the impulse to shuffle from side to side in a pair of billowy satin parachute pants.

Which got me thinking.  I know, that’s dangerous when it happens, but hear me out.

As a child of the 80’s, those songs were my anthems.  My battle cries.  The soundtrack to my middle- and high-school years.

And now, decades later, my kids say so many things on a daily basis that sound lifted right out of the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie.  You could probably supply a preschooler’s daily vocabulary solely on 80’s song titles.

For instance:

80's kids

“Don’t Stand So Close To Me”

A request from Sting, or a preschooler who values personal space?

“Can’t Touch This”

A cry for personal property retention or a memorable and catchy tune from M.C. Hammer?

“We Didn’t Start the Fire”

Billy Joel song, or denial that any wrongdoing from young hands has taken place?

“You Spin Me Round”

A hit from Dead or Alive, or the constant request to get grabbed by the arms and twirled around?

“Need You Tonight”

The quintessential nightmare plea or an INXS song?

“Don’t You Forget About Me”

Have you heard this in a Michael Anthony Hall movie, or at drop off from your 4 year-old?

“Pretty in Pink”

The way a little girl feels draped in head-to-toe fushia colored garments, or the theme song to the movie of the same name by the Psychadelic Furs?

“Bring Da Noise”

Rally cry from rap legends Public Enemy, or rally cry from a bounce house full of toddlers?

“Here I Go Again”

The declaration just before your toddler repeats his “you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him” head butt, or a light-rock ditty by Whitesnake?

“Catch Me I’m Falling”

A bubbly pop song from Pretty Poison, or the warning yell from your over-adventurous kid on the playground?


Perhaps as you read these, some other gems came to mind.  If so, I’d love to hear them! It’s pretty fun to think about, and once you start, you can’t stop!  Drop them in the comments and let’s make a new list.

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Parenting Amnesia: What I can’t remember about my daughter…

parenting amnesiaMy daughter’s sound-activated monitor goes off at weird times throughout the night.  Most of the time, it’s just a fluke.

Perhaps I tossed the comforter the wrong way, interrupting the reception.  Or maybe my daughter has moved loudly.  Or I’ve farted.  Or she’s farted.  Or there’s a sudden solar flare.  Who knows why, but it’s rarely because she’s up and needs assistance.  9 times out of 10, it’s nothing.

Still, even knowing this track record, I get startled when I hear her monitor go off.  My chest gets that familiar nervous feeling I used to get when she was a baby and I’d hear the crackle of the monitor.  The one that signaled an end to my “nap” and the beginning of a long night.  It was later replaced with a sense of dread, thinking “what illness or nightmare is waiting for me?”

All of this got me thinking that I can’t even remember what her cries were like when she’d wake at night as a baby.

Were they needy? Angry? Whimpers, or full-on she-devil screams?

I can’t remember. It’s funny how your mind blocks all that out after only four short years.  I can remember a handful of really bad moments where she was screaming at the top of her lungs.  But the like-clockwork sounds of her readiness to eat?  I don’t recall what they were like.  You would think, after hearing them for over a year, I’d have them committed to memory.

She was not an easy baby at first.  She was intense.  Not colicky, but a girl that, from birth, knew what she wanted and what she didn’t want.  Meaning, most of the time, she wanted Mommy, and those who were not Mommy were not allowed in her inner circle of comfort and trust in the wee hours of the morning.

And while I remember a couple of moments when she seemed like the most unhappy baby in the world, when I think back to her infancy, what comes to mind now is how happy she was.

Was she really? Am I suffering from Mothering Amnesia Disorder (a.k.a. MADness)?

Or is it that she’s just so bubbly now that it has replaced any kind of negative memory I have of her?  That her Big Girl verbal requests when she needs us in the middle of the night are far more welcome than the screeches she’d utter as a baby?  That I’ve grown so accustomed to this preschooler who has long since outgrown her initial clingy-ness that the other memories are irrelevant?

Really, it doesn’t matter. I’ll take these happy memories over the frustrated ones from her first year any day.  I’m comfortable not remembering what those cries sound like.  They’ve been replaced with giddy laughter and nightly secrets of “I love you.”

And these sounds?  I want to remember them forever.