Rites of passage. When I was a kid, the first birthday I really had that meant anything was my sixteenth birthday. It’s the rite of passage that sanctions you to drive. On roads. In a car. My driver’s license meant that I no longer had to sneak out and hike through the city several blocks on foot to find the party that someone whom had been invited by someone whom had been invited by someone whom had been invited by the guy throwing it invited me to.
Freedom. The freedom to ditch the greasy hamburger flipping job and get a real one down at the strip mall. The freedom to drive the Strip in Las Vegas and give the bike cops ‘Wazzup!’ eyebrows. The freedom to be potentially life threateningly stupid, but freedom all the same.
My rite of passage.
I’m not sure how my parents survived the nights when the cops called to tell them my friends and I had (successfully) performed a Chinese fire drill at a red light on Jones, or when I missed curfew by several hours…again. As a parent, I am now guessing that they gave it up to God to decide whether or not I should be allowed to live long enough to reproduce, or if I should be, in a very Darwinian fashion, decisively removed from the gene pool. At this point in time, I have three kids, and God and I get along just fine.
Now, in the digital age, the first rite of passage is…unmonitored internet access? My middle son just turned thirteen, not quite three years younger than my son who is, uh-um, about to turn sixteen this summer and get his driver’s license. I just opened an email on my phone from MSN that informed me, and I quote, “Your child no longer requires permission to use Microsoft online services.”
Well, I suppose now that he is thirteen and is STUPIDER for having lived that long, he should definitely be allowed to browse the internet at will. Right? No, really, we are pulling parental controls when our kids’ frontal lobes shut down and they function on what used to pass as survival instinct, the kind of survival instinct that might give them a next generation for their DNA before they are wiped out by something bigger, smarter, and faster between the ages of 14 and 23 when they become even STUPIDER.
So, recognizing that both of my boys are hitting the window when they are most likely to be removed from the gene pool, can’t I at least keep a little bit of the digital leash? Oh, wait, I can…it’s the plug on the wireless route…