September 4, 2012

Snoopish Inclinations

Paul and the children are watching a Japanese cartoon in which the child characters put a (presumably empty) gun to their heads and fire it, FOR LUCK. This is NOT TRANSLATING WELL FOR ME.


The children were using spritz bottles out in the yard to play a Star Wars game. William said he was "Lukewarm Skywater."


Rob's room is starting to smell seriously revolting. I'd expected the "hamster cage" smell I'd heard others mention about boy rooms, so I recognized that stage when it arrived---but now we are entering a new level of "Oh, MAN. Whooof!" *Febreze everywhere*

When he was on the trip with Paul and William, I thought I'd do some cleaning in his room and see if I could improve things. Here is what I learned: he is now too old for me to do cleaning in his room, and/or I need to buy him a lockbox and say "PUT IN HERE EVERYTHING YOU DON'T WANT ME TO SEE." Because I was NOT SNOOPING, I was not trying to snoop AT ALL, but I am in possession of information I would rather not have.

This was a very good lesson for me, and I hope it sticks. Because I have snoopish INCLINATIONS. And yet I KNOW how important it was to me to know I could believe my mother when she said she would never, never snoop. She said I could leave my diary open on the table and she would not read it, and I completely believed it. (I think there might have had some sort of addendum about how if she felt she needed to snoop for my own safety, she would tell me she was going to do it, and tell me WHY, and then do it while I was there in the room---something like that. But then, that's not really SNOOPING anymore anyway.)

And my parents wouldn't allow my brother to snoop either, and made it clear to both of us that it would be considered a very serious offense with significant punishments, and my dad put a lock on my door when I felt uneasy about people maybe barging in by accident, and all of this was very, Very, VERY important to me as a teenager, and I would LIKE to give my kids the same assurances. I think it's RIGHT.

But...I also feel very CURIOUS! And so far in my first year (OF FIFTEEN) of parenting teenagers, I have not found teenagers as dishy as I would have hoped, which increases the temptation to find out by other means. So. I hope very much that this unintentional snoop with unwanted consequences will teach me firmly that I DON'T WANT TO KNOW.


Jess said...

I think we all REALLY want to know what you found! Since i don't have a teenager (yet, omg!) I am SO curious.

Amy said...

You know we are dying to know what you found!

Clarabella said... imagination is doing double time imagining the possibilities of what you found (not that I'm asking. I respect his privacy too!). I had secretssecretssecrets when I was that age. I mean...they were mostly of the "I like this boy" variety, but still.
I was terrified of my parents snooping, and they occasionally did, in the sense that you refer to your mother mentioning, but I still remember feeling so violated. I have "snoopish inclinations" myself, so I can only hope I'll remember how *I* felt when my son is that age.

Swistle said...

Jess and Amy- Oh, I know. But even though I'm not generally in the "This is not my story to tell" camp (this...IS my story! I was THERE!), even I draw the line at exposing a 13-year-old's secret on the internet!

I will tell you this: it was completely normal and tame. It was only startling to me because I wasn't expecting it.

HereWeGoAJen said...

You know, this has led me to wonder if my mother did any snooping when I was growing up. If she did, she was very subtle. She never told me that she would or wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Our oldest (25 now) asked me once, as a youngish teenager - how I knew EVERYTHING. I told him it's because I eavesdrop on his conversations (just to the point of hearing if it was something that I needed to know about), snoop in his room, check in his car, talk with his friend's mothers. I found lots of things that I wish I hadn't, but nothing dangerous or illegal. I never said anything to him about the regular disgusting boy stuff, but if I HAD found something serious, I would have been in a better position to deal with it.

I don't know about your kids, but mine didn't/don't share everything with me. For me, being aware of as much as I could be was part of being a good, vigilant parent. I heard too many stories of parents caught totally unaware because they didn't want to violate privacy.

If my kids were going to engage in risky behavior of any kind, they were going to have to be damn good at hiding it. I also am waiting up, in a chair in the living room, every night when they come home. They must engage me in conversation and kiss me goodnight. If that wouldn't be a governor on your evening activities, I don't know what would. Also - the answer is always no to any request to spend the night somewhere when it comes after 6pm of the same night.

Leeann said...

Just a comment re: the boy stink-- I find it is often the shoes. OMG the SHOES. They stink like nothing else. Just GROSS.

H said...

To add to what Leeann said - sometimes it is the socks that were in the shoes. They often end up in and among things that don't look like sock places.

Kara said...

And, not to be disgusting, but because I grew up with brothers, socks can be used for purposes other than being put on feet. Just saying. And woe betides the person stuck doing that laundry. Boys just entering puberty are gross.

Laura said...

@Anon at 9:11 -- This is the kind of stuff I need to know. How much intervention is enough or too much or gahhh! I was recently telling a mother of older children how we no longer keep alcohol in the house due to having a teenager. She informed me not to worry, with teenagers in this area it's usually BYOB! That never crossed my mind to make sure duffle bags brought into my home were/are beer free.
Anyway, thank you Swistle for starting this conversation. I can't wait to read what other people have to say.

Nicole said...

My kids' rooms smell too - and they are only 7 and 8 - so I can't imagine what it's going to be like in 5-6 years.

Bailey said...

When I was growing up there was never any expectation of privacy. At all. Ever. (I only found out when I moved in with my partner that some people sleep with thebedroom door closed? Very strange!) Mom was omnipresent, and it couldn't even be considered snooping because it was a given that if she wanted to, she would be in your stuff. I don't remember it being all that traumatic. I had a password protected Word document that I used as a diary, but I'm not sure she knew it existed.

I was a snooper, though. I can recall specifically the time I found her will and saw that we were going to live with her brother if she died. In the same drawer there was a 12" fishing knife. (Pretty sure those were unrelated.)

Heather R said...

Oh God!!! The things I am going to have to think about in about 8 years! Good to know about smelly boys. Mine is 3, so I have some time to gather more knowledge on smelly sources! Thank goodness for the internet!

Regarding privacy. I just don't know how I feel. My mom was the same as your mom and didn't snoop and "trusted our judgement" but some of that may have been a mistake. If my kids start doing what I did I want to know and stop them! But where do I draw the line?

Erin said...

So did the cleaning make the room smell better? Or is it still awful AND now you know stuff you didn't want to know? :)

Swistle said...

Erin- I made my didn't-want-to-know discovery in the first five minutes---so very little progress was made! I'm trying to keep up with the laundry, and having him change his sheets more often, but the aroma levels fluctuate.

Dinsdale said...

I'm amazed your parents put a lock on your door - I wish my parents had let me. My dad's position was that they needed to be able to open the door in an emergency, which was true, but still. I would have LOVED a lock.

Also, I will say that my dad let me know he looked through my internet history and all that prompted me to do was thoroughly delete any history, cookies, etc before leaving the computer. Again, I know he had my best interests at heart but teenagers are WILY. And SUSPICIOUS.

(TL;DR: Good for you! I think you have the right approach.)

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Oh MAN. I'm just not sure whether I'll be snoop-ish or not.

My oldest is 6 and still shares most everything with me, whether I want her to or not. I know I would never read a diary but picking up a bedroom and finding things....? GRAY AREA.

Susie said...

I worry about this! My mom didn't snoop MUCH, but she did when it was clear she NEEDED to - when I was really struggling through the angsty teenage years perhaps a bit more than was normal. She DID read my email after a very bad break up, which I think was too far - BUT she told me about it, which I respect at this point, 15 years later.

There is so much MORE to snoop through now, too! All the electronic things.. and so much more to worry about, it seems like. I very much have snoopish inclinations, always have -I am not sure how well I will do at controlling them. I really like reading about your parents' approach to snooping and trust though. It makes me feel like I need to define a plan and STICK to it.

Trudee said...

My question to you, Swistle, is, Did you tell him you'd been in his room and made this discovery?

I also have snoopish inclinations. I don't have any children yet, but I will really have to be very strict with myself when the time comes. I wasn't aware of my parents snooping but there were many situations where I felt betrayed by my parents and that's a horrible feeling. I wouldn't want any future children to feel that way about me.

Swistle said...

Trudee- I didn't, no. I went with a "Let's pretend this never happened, and now let's take measures to see that it doesn't happen again" plan.

He knows I still clean in his room, and I'd mentioned doing so before their trip, so luckily there wasn't a "I went in when I said I wouldn't" issue to deal with.

Sam said...

My teen got around the filter on his computer. I now know WAY TOO MUCH about gentlemen on the internet who enjoy other gentlemen. You're welcome for me putting that as delicately as possible.

Anonymous said...

My mom's policy with having teenagers was this : teens that do their own laundry do not have to keep their room up to mom's standards. If, for some reason mom needs a teen's room clean up to her standards she helps catch up on laundry. This, I think, saved her a lot of grief from making unwanted discoveries, especially where my brother was concerned.

My son is only four, but I'll be instituting the same policy in 8 or 9 years.