My ten-year-old daughter delivered this to me last night:
My Christmas Wish List
1. First I want a dog that is a sheltie (shetland sheepdog) that has long brownish-grayish hair.
2. Then I want a play station 2 that is black.
3. Then I want Neopets the darkest fairy for the play station 2.
4. Then I want monster rancher 3 and 4.
5. Then here's something that you are definitely going to say NO!!! But you can't blame a girl for trying! Here it goes! A snake!
6. Then here's another NO!!! thing. A bunny.
7. One more NO!!! thing. Internet!
8. Finally one of all the Horse computer games at the game store!
Substitute books for the computer games and it's almost carbon copy of the wish list I wrote when I was ten. So much for mom's theory that all little girls want are Barbies.
Missy, the dog we lost to cancer and old age two years ago, was a Sheltie, which explains #1. #5 & #6 are a little more difficult -- I'm thinking of the care involved, for which she would be responsible -- but doable. #7 is already available to her (and her older brother) if she uses my computer or her dad's while one of us is in the room. What's she's asking for with #7 is her own internet account and a cable modem hooked up to her bedroom computer.
The internet is the real issue here. My daughter is active on a number of web sites for kids and has made some terrific friends out there in cyberspace (because of the hate mongers who come after me and other safety issues my kids have always had to use online pseudonyms.)Unfortunately I've found adult-aged users on several of the G-rated children's sites she visits, so we've also had some serious talks about giving out personal information, what is appropriate online contact, etc.
I trust my kids, but I also do e-mail and activity spot checks to keep up with what they do on the internet. Yes, that probably makes me a Nazi, but those are the house rules. My daughter has an active buddy list and has been in moderated chats, and she understands what is acceptable language. She's already been approached by adults and brushed them off, and hangs out mainly with girls her own age (we hope. We really never know.) I have asked her to let me know if anyone says or sends anything to her that frightens her, but so far as I know, no one's tried. I think that's all a parent can do without sealing their kid in a plastic bubble.
I think this year I can manage a new dog, because we feel we've mourned our poor Missy long enough. Although we love our cats, we all miss having a dog in the house, too. The personal Internet connection . . . no. Maybe I'm overprotective, but I'd like to keep a close eye on my kids' use of the Internet for a few more years. Maybe I'll get that for her thirtieth birthday.