Anna Spargo-Ryan is an impatient but well meaning mother of two living in Melbourne with her extremely handsome dog. Anna writes on life, love, loss and chocolate and tries to maintain a sense of humour about it, but is occasionally overwhelmed by soft words and hand holding. The rest of the time, you can find her saying things on Twitter or on her eponymous blog
If you have a daughter you have to read this post
My kids are dastardly computer savvy types. They sit on their laptops and look at photos of horses and play the same kinds of awful Flash games that are also my occasional secret shame. Their computers are fairly tightly locked down (I've blocked my own blog from them!) but they like to use the internet for research.
Like, for instance, the "research" I found my seven-year-old doing the other night. From afar, she looked studious and focused, and at first I assumed she must be learning about different types of horses or deep space or the feminist movement. But as I drew closer, she flicked out of the window. As I invented that move when I was googling (or as we said then, Alta Vistaing) things I shouldn't have been as a teenager, I went straight for her browser history.
She started to cry. Little embarrassed tears welled up and dripped on to the keyboard. She pleaded with me - don't look, I wasn't doing anything, I was just looking at My Little Pony videos! Being the smug parent, I looked anyway. I was gleeful in my anticipation.
As she choked back her shame, I saw her recent search.
"How do I make a boy kiss me?"
I felt my self-satisfaction come crumbling down. My little girl was in love.
When I was seven, I had a big crush on a boy called Simon. He was new and his eyes were like incredible opals. I had no idea what to do about my stolen heart, and no one to ask. I couldn't ask my friends, because they were kids and didn't know anything about these types of adult feelings. I couldn't ask my teacher, because he would tell Simon and then I could never show my face in the classroom again.
No, I did what every love sick seven-year-old girl does: I stole a Dolly magazine from the library and asked it all of my questions. Why doesn't he like me? What do boys want their girlfriends to do? How long until we can get married?
How do I make him kiss me?
And like every seven-year-old girl, my mum found me reading my stolen Dolly magazine and looked for the pages that were the most tear stained, while I stood silent and panic stricken. Don't look, I wasn't doing anything, I was just reading about NKOTB!
Obviously, learning about how to force someone to fall in love with you is easy. There are resources aplenty on the subjects of how to know they like you, how they make fun of you because they want to be close to you, how you can tell you'll get married one day because they cross their legs towards you instead of away from you. But where are the references for how to help your love stricken child?
So, having discovered my daughter's secret, and with her knowing that I had discovered it, we stared at each other for a few minutes while the elephant in the room thundered around us. It wasn't like catching her nicking biscuits or telling her cousin he was a doodle head. This was the new media equivalent of finding her diary and "accidentally" opening it to the page with all the secrets on it. I knew too much. I had to protect her from the dangers of falling in love. I had made my snooping bed and now I had to lie in it.
"Lily," I said, "what was that video you were looking at?"
"What video?" she said, chewing on her fingernails.
"The video about how to make someone kiss you. Is there someone you want to make kiss you?"
She screwed up her soft seven-year-old face. "Gross, mum." Her eyes darted left and right. "I was only looking it up so I knew how not to let someone kiss you!"
I let the lie sit comfortably between us until she ran off, at which point I turned the internet security up to a million and went to my own desk to Google "how to stop anyone from breaking your kid's heart ever."