Life Deconstructed: Prying and prowling their childhood


Life Deconstructed

Maria Jiunta Heck

I so miss the days of diaries. And journals. And passing notes. Do you realize these things are completely obsolete? And do you also realize how hard it is to actually snoop on a child in this decade? For God’s sake, I can’t even stealthily pick-up the phone extension to eavesdrop anymore. That was in the day of the rotary dial with curly cord and went by way of leisure suits and Dippity Do.

Listen, I know it’s not popular to admit in the current parental climate of “let’s be friends” but I snoop, spy, pry and investigate every corner of my kid’s lives. In my domain, I feel it’s a right-to-know Motherhood Amendment within the Parental Bill of Rights that I know I signed at the end of 31 hours of labor.

It was easier 10 years ago. Not everyone over the age of 7 years old had a cell phone then, and kids still passed notes in Geometry instead of texting their feelings across the Ethernet. And, listen, if I had to retrieve jeans from the floor and throw them in the washer, then I had the right to read the notes stuck in the pockets. If they did their own laundry, I wouldn’t have caught them doing so much monkey business!

Back then, MySpace was the popular social site and it was harder to “block” nosy parents from reading entries. It’s how I got all the poop. Plus, yes, I did read my daughter’s diary, just like my mother read mine, and your mother read yours, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s mother read hers and Judy Jetson’s mother read hers. If our kids peeled back a corner and gave us a glimpse into their shuttered lives, we wouldn’t have to go to such lengths to gather intriguing intel. Do I really care what they are up to? You bet your password I do.

Once my sons approached the age of missteps and shenanigans, it was much harder to pry the lid off data. There was no note-passing and no whispered phone conversations with a phone connected to a wall outlet. What we have, instead, is stupid Facebook. Trying to infiltrate their profiles on this Armageddon of networking is like penetrating the Pentagon at high noon — almost impossible. But just as I cracked the code of garnering their web-secrets, everyone left Facebook in a cloud of computer dust and ageism. When I asked my kids why they were no longer on this site, my son’s response was: “Mom, only old people use Facebook now.” Huh. He’s right.

So, apparently the big communication tool right this minute is Instagram. I know! It sounds like Instant Grandma, right? Well, I tried but wasn’t granted admittance into their netherworld of photos and secrets. Blocked again. When I complained to my son, he said ,”Oh, Mom. You can’t go on Instagram! That’s a dating website for young people!” He apparently thinks that the change of life includes a change in the gray matter of my brain.

I won’t apologize for being, in their words, “a crazy, suspicious, old lady.” I give myself permission to permeate the recesses of their lives until they’re 21 and/or move out of my kingdom. It’s not a “don’t ask- don’t tell” mentality here at the asylum. It’s more of a “I-need-to-know-every -move-you-are-making” kinda deal. When they fly away and finance their own insurance, rent and electric bill, they will earn privacy.

Until then, I’ll always find my ways, and I can share them with you. I’ll pass you a note at recess.

Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three, a librarian and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life.

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