Me: (walking into the living room with Molly’s OOTD aka outfit of the day, pause noticing Hank watching YouTube without asking permission first)
Hank: (noticing my noticing) Ooops… Sorry, mama. May I watch YouTube?
Me: Hank, (sitting down on his level) I am not mad so we are going to stay calm through this whole conversation, agreed?
Hank: (nervous) Agreed.
Me: I know before your epic 1989 punishment you didn’t have to ask to watch YouTube, but do you understand why you do now?
Hank: Kind of.
Me: You have to ask permission to watch YouTube and give me an idea of what content you plan on watching because we need you to understand that watching YouTube is a privilege you are still earning back. More often than not this week I have caught you watching before asking permission. Today is the last day. If I catch you again I will delete the app from your phone and you will lose your phone for a day are we clear.
Hank: Yes. (putting down the phone)
Me: (picking it up to check the history and finding his passcode has changed)
Hank: Oh yah it’s now ****.
Me: (serious) I am the first person to know when you have changed your passcode. If I can’t get into your phone when you are not here it is mine for the foreseeable future.
Hank: I’m sorry. I just changed it.
Me: When you change your passcode you are to walk into the kitchen and write it on the white board. Got it?
Hank: Got it.
Me: Okay. (opening his YouTube app and bringing up the history)
Hank: Mama, before you begin there is one video that I selected by accident and when I realized it was Grand Theft Auto I left immediately.
Me: Thank you for telling me. I will be able to confirm this by seeing how much of the content you watched. Scrolling… Yes. I see that is exactly what happened. Less than 30 seconds is clearly a mistake.
Hank: It is that “next video” automatic thing. Sometimes the video is just playing before I can do anything about it.
Me: AND IS THAT WHAT EXPLAINS THE FACT THAT YOU WATCHED THIS? (pulling up a video entitled “My parents caught me…” AND AN EGGPLANT?!?!
Hank: (calm and honestly puzzled and babbling) I have no idea what that is so I am going to say that yes that is the same thing yes that is what happened I don’t remember seeing that ever what is that and why is there… (pause to breathe) What is the eggplant for?
Me: (facepalm, deep sigh) Motherhood today is so much harder than my parents had to deal with. Hank, you have no idea! Jeesh! Right… Okay. (wishing I had drank coffee before this conversations) I am not mad. I can see that you watched less than 30 seconds of this content.
Hank: It is that thing where the next video automatically plays!!!
Me: I hear you, buddy and you can turn that off.
Hank: I know.
Me: THEN DO IT OR IT WILL GET YOU IN TROUBLE!!!
Hank: Okay! I will. Can I do it now?
Me: (handing the phone back)
Hank: (deselecting the auto-play feature)
Me: Hank, this is important AND the only reason I even know this is because your Aunt Kelly is a teacher or I too would be clueless because I am old and am not hip to the kids these days. (already regretting those words leaving my mouth as they make me feel way older than I actually am) AN EGGPLANT in a text message or on a video thumbnail means sex. It is an eggplant but it means a penis.
Hank: WHAT? Why? Eggplant is food.
Me: I will let you figure this one out on your own and in your own time but what I am telling you is important. I want you to avoid any videos with eggplants or peaches, especially eggplants and peaches together (shudders)…
Hank: WHY PEACHES?!!
Me: Please, for once just take me at my word. Even if the thumbnail is a farmer in his field with a pitch fork and muddy boots if those emojis are on the image that video will have sexual references and is not appropriate for you.
Hank: (to himself) Why peaches?
Me: In time… all will be clear in time. And speaking of time, when you are given a sim card for your phone in the future I will also be reading your text messages so file this away for the future: (dead serious) Your aunt Kelly is a teacher in America and she will always know the secret codes of tweens and teens before they cross the pond for your use and that means I will know so don’t even try to sneak anything past me when it comes to kissing or…
Hank: MOM, GROSS! No, I don’t even…
Me: (hand up , interrupting) You will someday and if you don’t ever want to kiss anyone then that is okay too but if you follow the majority of teens someday you will be interested in sex and that is when with no fear or shame you are to talk to any or many members of your tribe: Prima, Papa, me, Ana, Leslie, Aunt Kelly, your Uncle Jesse or Tio Daniel, Renato, Maria Miguel… Just to name a few. Got it.
Hank: (embarrassed) Got it.
Me: Now the reason inappropriate content keeps getting suggested and auto-played is because you spent a solid two days consuming videos for a more mature audience…
Hank: I did?
Me: Grand. THEFT. AUTO!
Hank: Oh, right.
Me: So we need to teach the algorithm that you really aren’t interested and that you are nine. UMK. Because you don’t want the parental filter.
Hank: You can’t see hardly anything with the parental filter. It blocks EVERYTHING.
Me: Right so you want to learn the trick?
Hank: How do we do this?
Me: Well, we go to the home page and scroll through suggested videos and (scrolling) BAM see here!! We have a video for Grande Theft Auto by, isn’t this the lady who makes the SIMS videos? (clicking on the video by accident) Whoops… shoot. (then because of lack of coffee select and even WORSE VIDEO) Good GAWD! Rewind. (get my uncaffeinated bearings)
Hank: Yes, but she is now playing other games BUT I ONLY WATCH THE SIMS ONES.
Me: Perfect. Okay, but look at the thumb nail. DOUBLE WHAMMY!!! Grande Theft Auto with eggplants and (pointing to the second suggestion covered in eggplants) Don’t even get me started on THIS ONE…
Hank: All the eggplants! Seriously?
Me: So we just click these three dots on the side and then select “not interested.” And wave goodbye to the unwanted content. That is how you reprogram the algorithm.
Hank: Okay. I can do that, but mama, how do you know how to do this? Normally, you need my help with these things.
Me: (deep sigh of regret) Once I watched a video where this mother popped a huge cyst, which is kinda like a pimple, on her daughter’s ear and it was the oddest thing ever the amount of everything that emerged. Lord! It was like a train wreck! I just couldn’t look away.
Me: I am not proud of it, but after watching that video the algorithm decided to flood my home page with other such content and even grosser videos. It was insane but also I felt comforted by the fact that I was not alone in my moment of sick fascination. Pimple popping, apparently, it’s a thing. People love pimple extrusion as much as they love cute internet kittens.
Hank: I am not one of those people.
Me: HA! Word. So I had to clean up my YouTube suggestions by letting the program’s filter know I no longer am interested in that kind of content.
Hank: And I thought eggplants were weird.
Me: (riots of laughter)