A 14-step guide to French kissing

When I was about ten or eleven, some boy in the neighborhood discovered the weather-beaten, scattered pages of a Playboy magazine along a stretch of dirt bike trail in the woods adjacent to our houses. Pretty soon, all of us kids knew about it, and from that summer until well into winter, when it finally disintegrated into soggy clumps of pulp, that Playboy was our sole source of sexual education. (That and Lonney Jackson, who claimed he had access to a 1-900 phone sex chat line, but no one believed him.)

Of course, comparatively speaking, kids these days have it easy. In our house alone, there exist no fewer than seven portals to the wide world of the internet and all its wisdom. Gone are the days of a single desktop computer, located publicly in the family room. Now, in addition to the adults’ laptops, both Nate and Calvin own iPods with internet connectivity, my iPhone is usually within reach, and our family iPad travels from room to room.

Because of this, we have a system. (I’ll leave it to you to decide, after finishing this post, whether our system works.) The boys are allowed to access the internet for homework and pre-approved entertainment purposes, but YouTube and Google can only be accessed with an adult standing by to assist. We rely on a foundation of trust, but we’re not dummies: every evening, they know we scroll through their browser history. If we find anything they shouldn’t be seeking out, WiFi capability is removed from their device. If we find no history at all (indicating a cover-up effort), WiFi capability is automatically removed.

Last night, after checking our iPad’s browser history, Charlie asked me, “Did you search ‘how to French kiss’?”

In his defense, since I write fiction, I do Google a variety of odd things. Still: “I think I know how to French kiss.”

The next morning, Charlie had to get to work early, so it was left to me to call Nate and Calvin together. What followed was possibly one of the funniest conversations we’ve ever had. After showing them the browser history evidence, they both started laughing. The thing was, Nate’s laughter was of the genuine ‘ha-ha, this is hilarious’ variety, while Calvin’s swung closer to ‘ha-ha-oh-crap’. It wasn’t hard to determine the culprit.

At first, between bright-red-faced guffaws, he tried to deny it. Then he tried to say he had Googled it ‘on accident’ and that he hadn’t meant to. Because that happens you know…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped into an iPad and had it type out ‘how to French kiss’.

I called him on this, of course, which only made his face redder and his brother laugh harder. I clicked on the first link to see just how bad the damage to my 10-year-old’s innocence had been, and though somewhat relieved,  I did note additional links leading to darker waters. I decided to put him on the spot, because nothing reins kids in like public humiliation. “So,” I prompted. “What did you learn?”

This caused their laughter to double. Calvin could barely breathe. “There…are…fourteen…steps,” he finally managed, which made my eyebrows raise and, more alarming still, wiped the smile right off Nate’s face.


Now I was laughing.

“What’s the first one?” Nate asked, attempting to peer at the iPad screen over my shoulder.

Calvin’s face was positively on fire. We could barely make out his words. “Moisten…your…lips.”

Now we were all doubled-over, gasping for breath.

“Well…duh,” Nate managed.

Within a few minutes, our hysteria had drawn Toby’s attention, who wanted to know what was so funny, so I let Calvin off the hook at Step #3 (angle your face).

His internet privileges have been revoked per our stipulated rules, and for when he gets them back, I’ve installed Mobicip. Other than regular diligence, common sense, and lots of open dialogue, I’m not sure what else I can do. I will not be banishing technology any time soon, nor do I want my children to be wary of it. Curiosity in itself is not a punishable offense in our house, and I’ve known since the moment I got an eyeful of Miss September from under the tire of my BMX bike that there’s no stopping the unveiling of the world’s mysteries (and Playboy models).

But you can’t blame me for trying. It’s so frighteningly easy to learn entirely too much today. (In Cal’s case, he’d stumbled upon his colorful tutorial trying to Google a Lego ‘how to’.) The juicy tidbits of (mostly erronous) information we had to work so hard to uncover in our youth simply falls into kids’ laps today, streaming into their ears and before their eyes faster than they can say, stop. Enough. No more. Not yet.

If only there were an app for that.

(If you’re now burning with curiosity, here you are: Wiki-How’s 14-step guide to French kissing, with illustrations, courtesy of Calvin. Let me know if you learn something.)

35 thoughts on “A 14-step guide to French kissing

  1. sounds like a good system for me. We’re about to switch from the family desktop in the living room to the laptop scenario so we will probably adopt it ourselves!!

  2. I need to come up with a system for the internet, since my boys are starting to get “independent” on the computer. I keep thinking they are too young, but this story makes me realize a internet search for a new Mario game could lead to so much more.

    • Yes, Calvin was actually searching ‘how to build a Halo Lego Falcon’ or something like that, and got distracted by all the ‘how to’ options that popped up. Scary.

  3. Yeah – managing these murky waters can be hysterical (and troublesome). Wondering – do you search their browser histories on their iPods? We had Zonelabs installed that could filter content based on specific words but, in the end, it’s just prolonging. I remember being in 5th grade and stumbling across pages of (dirty) jokes my uncle had mailed to my father. It’s just inevitable. My new issue is my new TV – apps enabled…. Saw my 7yo on YouTube and now not sure what to do! Good luck and heck, we just try and manage as best we can.

    • Yes, look s like we’re forging through this maze at the same time. Good luck! YouTube is my nemesis…hate how easy it is to find terrible (and just stupid) stuff on it, and my boys love it. We do check their browser history on their iPods, too.

  4. I really like how you manage your boys’ internet activity. Just so you know.

    As for french kissing? In 14 steps? Where was Wikipedia when I dipped my virgin toes into the kissing world??

  5. Haha this had me laughing out loud! My parents put up some sort of filter/blocking system on our wifi network at home, and my dad claims he checks our history (although I’m not sure whether he really does or not…). Don’t think Calvin will be searching something like that again anytime soon 🙂

  6. Too funny! We’re dealing with the same thing here… both my boys got new laptops for X-mas (they paid for a good chunk of them with their own money too). It’s a crazy world! My oldest now has his first “girlfriend” too, so we’re really wound up tight here :-O.

    • Uh oh, laptop (with Skype or Facetime) plus a girlfriend?! Scary! I’m just thankful we don’t have girlfriends around here, though I’m guessing that won’t wait until they’re 25 like I have planned?

  7. Oh, how this made me laugh! We had to put a system in place after my son (who was 11 at the time) googled “naked girls.” One of the funniest, most horrific moments of my parenting life.

    • Oh! That may even be worse! (And funnier!) We’ve living through this time when our kids are both innocent and not-so-innocent, all at once. It’s terrifying!

  8. I am a first time commenter, though I think I had read your blog before — got here this time via BlogHer and this is JUST PRICELESS! The best part is that he’ll remember this for the rest of his life and one day he’ll tell his kids about it, too. A most embarrassing moment that is utterly charming.

  9. I’m just rolling over here, and of course I had to go to the link. The pictures!! But step 5 has the best line ever: “…do not lunge in with your lips agape like you’re going to eat them…” Seriously hysterical there.

    • I snagged you with that title, didn’t I?! Glad you’re here! And yes, I loved the step-by-step instructions, and figured I’d share the link!

  10. I’m not looking forward to those days. We’re a pretty low Internet usage family, but I know times will change sooner or later. I just hope for a good filter and I’m stealing your rule about connectivity.

    I had to look at the 14 steps, couldn’t help myself. Once you get past the first few, I’m actually kind of impressed that making sure it’s a mutual thing is on the list and I love at step 14 is to talk about it. Not that I think most kids would talk about it,but even putting those ideas out there seems good.

  11. This was awesome.

    When my son was 14, we had a similar occurance, which I handled with open communication and a loaded threat: “If this happens again, you will loser your online privileges.” A few months later it DID happen again (he was unaware at the time that his history could be traced), so he lost his phone, ipod and computer privileged for a full year. Nothing. The few times he complained, I asked him if he would like to discuss WHY again, which, of course, he never did. Now, as an 18-year-old college student, he has thanked me for that year. Seems he understands the concept of self-discipline a lot better than most of the freshman boys in his dorm, and he is grateful.

    You handled the situation beautifully. 🙂

  12. Who forgets to breathe?! That is funny, especially the ‘talk about it’ step. After a long smooch session, I always like to spend an equally long amount of time talking about it!

  13. Too. Much. Information.

    Let them grow up in peace. Oh boy, if I’d had my “oh sooo caring” hippie parents staring at my search history, I’d still be a virgin.

    They have to discover some things in peace. As my teenage kids are allowed to do.

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