Hank: Hey, why does she got ice cream?
Me: (frustrated) Because she is my karmic retribution and therefore never stops talking and I need her to be quiet for this conversation and if I have to listen to Frozen songs one more time I will burst a blood vessel.
Pai: Feel better?
Me: (deep breath)
Pai: So, what happened?
Hank: Mom looked at my YouTube browser history and she saw that I have been watching inappropriate videos.
Pai: What kind of inappropriate?
Hank: Grand Theft Auto videos.
Pai: And is that all?
Hank: (sheepish) No.
Me: Hank also watched a series of parody videos, about ten, where all cursing was bleeped, but all were way too mature for him. Kinda BuzzFeed-Ish about dating and dating apps and college and parties. The comedy was super sarcastic and just no. (shaking my head at Hank disappointed) No.
Pai: Hank, did you know the videos you have been watching were inappropriate?
Pai: And you chose to watch them anyway?
Me: What I want to know is what you thought you had to gain? What was the payoff? Was it worth it to watch those gaming and parody videos? You know I check your history. I have told you that. Did you think I wouldn’t find out? Be honest.
Hank: (mumbling) I was going to delete the browser history.
Me: Come again?
Hank: (speaking clearly) I was going to delete the browser history.
Pai: Henrique José, you forget I have a masters degree in Computer Science. I could have put things into place that would guarantee that deleting the bowser history would have made no difference. I could have been spying on you. Did you think of that?
Pai: And do you want to know why you didn’t think of that?
Pai: It is because you trust me and up until today your mother and I have trusted you. When there is trust between people there is a greater level of freedom. When trust is broken it is one of the hardest things on earth to gain back. You have broken your mother and I’s trust and you have admitted you were prepared to lie to us. This is a first. This is a big deal.
Hank: (calm, hanging his head)
Pai: We have given you a TON of freedom on the internet.
Pai: But now you have proven with your actions and with your intentions that you cannot be trusted. We are disappointed in you. How do you feel? I think your mother’s question is important. Was it worth it? Was watching those Grand Theft Auto videos worth it?
Hank: I don’t know. I don’t think so.
Me: Why did you do it then?
Hank: Because I wanted to? Because I didn’t think it was a big deal?
Me: Even though it is a hard and fast rule in this house: No Grand Theft Auto? I don’t like the premiss of that game: stealing and violence. I know you always say you wish you could get out of the car in your other driving games and you could in Grand Theft Auto, but you get out of the car to steal and beat people up and all sorts of other violent acts.
Hank: (trying to dig himself out of the hole he has dug) And finance. You get out of the car to complete missions to take care of your finances. A lot of the game is about fiscal responsibility.
Me: Don’t make me pray right now, Hank. (eyes closed, hands raised in surrender) Don’t you even begin to get smart with me, mister. I will show you a crime circuits’ fiscal responsibility up close and personal. DON’T MAKE ME INTRODUCE YOU TO REAL LIFE. You are nine and since the day you were born I have had to fight with you about staying a child for a long as possible. Trust me you do not want to grow up yet. You think you do, but you don’t. There is nothing fun about the life portrayed in that stupid game.
Hank: (meek) All my friends play it.
Me: Who? AND name one of them under the age of 12.
Hank: My colleagues at school. All the boys. And some of them play it with their DADS!
Me: AND do they live in this house? Am I their mother?
Me: That’s what I thought.
Pai: To get back on track. Hank, you were given a lot of freedom because we trusted you to respect our boundaries and talk to us when you happened upon something that was inappropriate but maybe gave you questions about life like these adult parody videos. These topics (gesturing to the phone and the browser history), did you understand any of these?
Hank: Not really.
Me: When you have questions about adult life: Dating, Parties, Kissing, Drinking, Drugs, Fiscal Responsibility etc.
Hank: (giggling then choking back the giggle realizing now is not the time to think his mother is funny)
Me: We want to think you can ask us those questions and if not us then you have a hoard of other people who love you whom you can speak to: Prima, Maria Miguel, Ana Santana, Ana, Euclides, Ricardo, Braulio, your Tio Daniel. Most of this humor I don’t want you to model. This kind of humor is based on sarcasm and stereotypes and I am fighting the world for you to be you, just as you are, and for you to be strong enough to not change or compromise yourself for anyone.
Pai: So here is the bottom line and then I will let your mother explain the punishment for your actions. We have learned that you are not ready yet to have absolute freedom on the internet. This is perfectly natural. YOU ARE NINE. We are disappointed in your choices over the last couple days, but we see why you were tempted by these videos and we are here to talk to you about it. You have always been fascinated by Grand Theft Auto and we can understand how our rules about no violent or killing games in this house differs from your colleagues at school and we are proud about how maturely and calmly you are talking to us about this.
Hank: I cried earlier, Pai. I cried when mom asked for my phone, because I knew I was breaking the rules and that I was getting caught.
Pai: I am also proud of you for admitting how far you were going to take the freedom we had given you. Admitting you intended to deceive us by deleting your YouTube history was important. Thank you for your honesty. Your mother and I now understand we have to monitor you more and sadly trust you less. Joy?
Me: Hank, you are nine. What happened today I expected of you when you turn 12, 13, 14, 15. You will learn to lie to your parents. You will learn to deceive us or lie by omission, meaning lying by not saying anything at all when you know you should. You will. All kids do eventually, but they don’t start when they are nine.
Hank: (hanging his head wounded)
Me: We see our part in this situation and for that we apologize. We were lazy and I hope you chose the right things to rebel with because for the foreseeable future this house is officially 1989.
Me: When I was nine I had books and paper to write stories and make drawings on. I spent far too much time alone in the woods catching frogs and making elaborate fantasy worlds with my friend Quinn Hazen and so for the foreseeable future this house is officially 1989. There is no internet for you. No smart phone. No television until someone else is watching it and invites you to join in. You can use all electronics at school and read a book on my Kindle and do your extra credit online school work but we will be with you at all times. You can check your email by asking me to use my computer, but other than that your punishment for breaking our rules online is to entertain yourself.
Pai: Just like we had to do when we were nine.
Me: You must entertain yourself from now on. No one is going to do it for you and if you even ONCE complain about boredom I will make you sweep the entire house and THEN get on your knees like Cinderella and scrub the floors of this house with a bucket and a rag. That is your punishment. Do you understand?
Hank: It is 1989.
Me: I will get you stacks of library books and you have a huge bookcase full to entertain you. You can play board games and learn to shuffle cards.
Pai: You have a little sister to play with, you can help us cook, you can take music lessons…
Me: You can ride your bike in the courtyard, you can take up the yoyo, but you complain to me one time only once about having nothing to do (threatening) and I will give you something to do.
Hank: I sweep the floors and scrub like Cinderella.
Me: Each and every time.
Pai: You will no longer rely on the internet to entertain you. WE will no longer rely on the internet to entertain you. That is your punishment.
Hank: (deep sigh) This feels fun now, but it is going to be hard, isn’t it?
Me: No one ever called you dumb. Not one day.