Reality Bites Again!

Parenting a teen was never easy.  I know how I was.  I also remember how my mother was.  Therefore, I try to be more understanding than my mother ever was with me.

In this day and age with the internet, cell phones, and all the other cool gadgetry of this century, parenting is an even bigger task.  You no longer just need to teach your kids their ABCs and manners.  You also need to teach them safety – both out in the real world AND online.  There are many TV shows that show you how kids react to a stranger with free ice cream or a lost puppy.  There are no TV shows that show you what can go on online.  Luckily I am very experienced with computers and the internet.

I don’t use a keystroke logger, or any software on my computer to keep tabs on my daughter.  I hope I have taught her well, and also by example.  I know that not everyone is as they claim to be.  I know that people can, and do, airbrush pictures (I have had someone pull that on me many years ago!).  Now with social media sites, cellphones, webcams, and all the other goodies, it’s even easier – just pick a picture of someone you like and you can claim it’s you!

I have met many online friends in real life over the years,  and this was in the days before social media sites!  This was from the days of IRC (Internet Relay Chat).   Some I have travelled to meet.  Others were travelling and in my neck of the woods.  And then there were the local friends.  I even met my daughter’s father online.  We were just friends for years before we ever met in person and felt a connection.  Even he wasn’t completely honest with me throughout the years, so I have a lot of experience with things that make you go hmmmm.

My daughter loves playing on RPG sites for teens.  Like me, she doesn’t use her real name online.  Sorry, she has a real psycho grandmother who we want no contact with, and have already used the threat of a restraining order to get rid of her.  Online stalking is even easier.

At my daughter’s young age, she has already dealt with the death of her father and family having cancer.  She had an online friend with cancer who thought it was a great joke to say he was dead.  Then she had another online friend who she ended up talking to daily on the phone for hours.  He too decided to play dead.  Except with him, I figured it out and had enough info about him to prove he was full of shit.  A few months later this kid came back from the dead with some off the wall BS story that everyone BUT my daughter believed.  That same day she learned that her friend, the cancer survivor, wasn’t dead either.

WTF?  Why would teen kids lie like that?  I believe in karma.  Don’t even lie and say you were sick or the car broke down, or it will really happen.  Lie about death?  Oh, hell no!

My daughter cried and grieved for her friend who died from cancer.  She was a mess for 3 weeks.  I finally had to do a Moonstruck, “Snap out of it!” with her, because everyone was losing patience, and my daughter was a puddle of shit during that time.

Now to officially confirm that I was right about one supposed friend (who I always thought had a few screws loose), and that he never died either… here we go again!  Luckily anger took over and my daughter was stronger in the end.  She learned a lesson from it all.  Those 2 friends will never have the opportunity to type or talk to my daughter again.  She wants nothing to do with either of them, and who can blame her?

I warned my daughter once again to be careful with people online because you just never know.  So my daughter finds a new RPG site for teens to play on.  She makes a few new friends on there.  There’s one boy in particular…  He asks no questions about my daughter’s personal life.  She asks none about his.  I finally questioned it.  Even online, you want to learn about a friend, don’t you?  She thought it was odd too.  She finally started asking questions.  She’s not like that with her other online friends, whether they’re boys or girls.

Questions got answered, and questions got asked.  The story that was unfolding was too weird to be true.  This 17 year old boy in the UK was disowned by his parents because they blamed him for his brother’s death (long story short, as he put it).  He lives in his own flat on his own, and works.  I find it odd that this lad has the money for a VIP membership on this RPG site since I can’t afford it after paying bills.  How does he manage to pull that one off?  I also have better ways to spend my money – which can upset a teen, but she knows she gets what is affordable when she’s deserving.  The VIP thing really sets my daughter off now.  How does he afford it?

The kids exchanged pictures via email.  This kid is skinny, but cute.  Odd.  It doesn’t fit with his description of being anti-social.  The picture is too dramatic.  On top of which, how does this kid work, or anything else, when it seems like he’s always on the RPG site?  That is something else my daughter was pondering.  Plus she finds it odd that he has a laptop, but no webcam, or even a microphone so they can chat.   Friends in the states she can not only chat with online, but also on the phone.  Friends out of the country she can chat with via a webcam or a microphone.  Not with this kid… odd!  Even the kid thinks it’s odd too.

My daughter asks him if he can cook.  Not only can he cook, he can cook ANYTHING.  Really?  I’m a good cook and I can’t cook everything!  Very odd.  The hairs on the back of my neck are getting set off, but I don’t want to alarm my daughter.  I was just feeling sorry for this kid.  How can parents disown their own child?  Then I slept on it.

I realize my daughter has his email address.  I know he told her he thinks Facebook is boring and that he doesn’t have a Facebook page.  Really?  How many teens DON’T have a social media page?

Not only do I have his email address, but it’s is his first and last name and date of birth combined.  Dumbass!

I start my search before I even get my coffee.  I don’t know where in the UK to look.  I remove the gmail part of his email address and searched with the full name and DOB part.  BINGO!  He’s on Youtube.  He’s doing a card trick.  Funny how his hands and fingers are really fat.  It doesn’t mesh with the really skinny kid we got a picture of.  Ok, no big deal.  There’s a video of his mum and brother, and another of just his brother.  I guess his brother isn’t dead after all.  I notice there’s a city listed on Youtube for him in the UK… back to Facebook we go!

I know I can’t find him by his email address, but I did find him by his name and location in the UK.  Holy shit!  Not only is his brother still alive, but he still lives at home.  He’s not 17.  He’s 19 going on 20.  He’s not cute.  He’s not skinny.  He has a lot of friends on FB, so he can’t be terribly anti-social, can he?

So now it comes down to telling someone you know they lied and you didn’t like being lied to.  It’s expected that he’s going to deny it.  It doesn’t matter.  The truth is known now.  It wasn’t what he looked like – it’s that he lied.  My daughter thought he was a nice person, but she just can’t handle people who lie about who or what they really are.  She would’ve and could’ve continued to be friends, IF only he hadn’t tried to pull a mega scam about himself.

I’ve taught her well I think.  I just wish her life didn’t have to be so painful.