I am the future Edward Snowden’s mother
Back in the wonderful 1980s, when I was in junior high, my parents realized that computers were going to play a major role in everyday lives. They promptly signed me up at a place called “comp u serve” and I diligently learned to program Apple 800s. Flash forward several decades, and I would classify myself as an average computer user: I’m not going to win any awards, but I manage to function in today’s world, and semi-successfully stalk my older stepkids online via social media sites.
In trying to ensure my little one, now five, stayed ahead of the game, I taught him how to play a few educational games on my iPod when he was two, then moved him up to his own kid’s tablet and now a laptop. We’ve had a few issues along the way, like when he started deleting apps on my phone, to make room for his apps, but in general, no problems. He was four when he did that. Maybe that was a sign.
As with many five year olds, one evening, out of the blue, he says, “Oh no! I got into BIG TROUBLE today with Miss Nancy.” She is the director/owner of his after-school care program (and formerly his daycare). This is the equivalent to going to the principal’s office. As far as I know, this is a first offense. I blank my face of emotion, though my heart starts being a bit faster, and ask what he did to be sent there. With a gleam in his eye, he responded, “I downloaded a bunch of apps on the Nooks at school!”
It takes me a few seconds to comprehend. I knew he used the e-readers there, and he had explained the various books and apps available to him. “So, how did you do that?” I ask, rather surprised they had internet access. “Well, usually we can’t, but my friend (names omitted to protect the guilty) showed me how to flip this switch and then it came on!” Hmm…. this sounds sketchy. I have a different brand of e-reader, so I’m not sure what this means exactly. I encourage him to continue. “So I clicked on the ‘e’ and the internet opened. I wanted to download a Cartoon Network app, but that’s a big word so I put in ‘CN’ because that’s what the TV has in the corner, and you know what? IT WORKED!”
My mind is spinning, trying to keep up with a 5 year old’s thought process.
“OK…” I say, dreading what comes next. “What did you do then?” His smile broadens, as he looks at me conspiratorially. “I found that app I keep asking you for, you know the one that costs money? I clicked on it, and it DOWNLOADED!” I close my eyes briefly. “Then, what?” I say, almost a whisper. He informs me his buddy picked his favorite app, which also downloaded. He face suddenly falls. “That’s when we got into trouble,” he says sadly. I look at him rather expectantly. “The apps started showing up on EVERYONE’S Nook, and someone told the teacher. The teacher got Miss Nancy, and she asked who did it.” I ask if he admits to it, and he looks around, nods slightly, and then says, “Well, I admitted to it when everyone started pointing at me.” Little narcs, I think. I tell him he made the right choice. “We had to go to the office,” he says, very matter-of-factly. I nod, concurring. “She told us we were never to go on the internet again. Those two apps costed her six dollars,” he says solemnly. It’s SO hard not to laugh. I’m trying to match his expression. “OK, well, I think you and your friend made a bad choice, but it’s always important to tell the truth and then not repeat it,” I tell him. Wow, that sounds so lame, but he’s five and he buys it. “I’m sorry. Can I play Skylanders?” he asks. “Sure,” I say, “but only for fifteen minutes.” He smiles and begins to excitedly tell me about Shroomboom’s most recent upgrade. I smile and shake my head and hope I can keep him out of prison.
(This was written over a year ago, but I never published it. I showed it to one of my friends, who encouraged me to do so, even though many people have forgotten about Ed. I haven’t.)