Wednesday, April 20, 2011

#FridayFlash - Birds and Bees

Derek glanced away from the touch screen as a knock came at the door. Standing in the doorway, Derek’s father looked at him with a strange expression.

“Hey Chief,” his father said, “you got a minute?”

Derek frowned. What now? He tapped at the screen, closed the application, and looked back at his father. “Sure.”

“You listening to some tunes?”

Derek smiled. His father, Mr. Hip, using words like Chief and tunes. As if that somehow made the connection, bridged the generational gap. And it wasn’t only his dad, it seemed; just the other day, his mother came in the room and, staring at his poster of the rock band Dark Horse, said, “Are they the bomb, or what?” At first, he stared at her, thinking: The bomb? Really? But instead of correcting her—nobody used “The bomb” anymore, that was like ten years ago—he simply nodded and told her, yeah, they were.

Watching his dad, who now stepped into the room and sat on the edge of the bed, Derek pulled out his earbuds and laid the iPad aside. “Just some screaming banshees,” he said.

“They new?”

“Just came out.”

“Any good?”

Derek shrugged. “Not really, but they show some promise.”

His dad nodded. “You know, I’m so proud of you, the way you’ve taken on the lawn mowing business around the neighborhood. You’ve earned your own money, you’ve even bought your own iPad. That shows real independence.”


His dad took a breath. “The reason I came in, though, is because I think it’s time we talked. You’ve been spending more and more time on the internet, and your mother and I are concerned.”

Derek narrowed his eyes.

“You may not realize it, son, but as well as it being a great place to hear about new bands the internet can also be a dangerous place.”

Derek looked away. He didn’t like where this was going.

“Out there”—his father swept a hand through the air—“you may see things I’d rather you not see. You may come into contact with people I’d rather you not meet.”


“And besides that, I think it’s time we talked because your friends may have already been exposed to things and started talking.” His father looked at him intensely now. “Am I right?”

Derek shook his head. “Talking about what?”

“About men and women and—well, how babies are made.”

Derek stared at his dad. Was this for real? Was the man really trying to tell him about the birds and the bees?

“Yeah,” he said, “I may have heard a thing or two about that.”

His dad looked down. Disappointment covered his face. “What have you heard?”

“It’s kind of embarrassing to say, you know?”

His dad nodded. “I don’t want you having the wrong ideas about—stuff like this. Sex is a gift from God, and it should be used wisely.”

Derek wasn’t sure what to say to that, so he just shook his head. “Look, dad, can we not do this? I don’t know that I want to talk about this stuff right now. It might be…” He shrugged.

His father nodded again. “Okay. Well, I just want to be available should you have questions. You know, in case you’re curious. ’Cause I’d rather you heard it from me instead of Joey Carlucci. There’s no telling what that kid’ll say.”

Derek laughed. “Yeah. Don’t I know it.”

His dad looked at him again. “So, is there anything you want to know?”

Derek shook his head. “I guess not.”

“Okay then. Well, if you have any questions, please know you can always come to me.”

“You bet.”

With that, his father stood. At the door he stopped and gave Derek a thumbs-up. “I’m proud of you.”

Derek smiled. “Thanks.”

His father gone, Derek picked up the iPad and placed the earbuds back in his ears. With a couple strokes, he called up the listing of networks around the neighborhood. This time, he would access the internet through Mr. Davidson’s WiFi. It was secure, but the old buzzard had made the mistake of leaving Derek alone with an unlocked door to the house. In case he needed water, Mr. Davidson had said. He didn’t want such a fine young man overheating while mowing his yard. After that, all it took was a quick search of drawers around the guy’s computer, and Derek had what he needed.

He tapped the screen and waited while the iPad connected. This was the way to do it, Joey Carlucci had told him. In case there were peeping eyes out there, you didn’t want them tracking you back to your own place.

A few strokes later and Derek also called up the Google account he had set up under a fake name—another thing Joey told him to do. He pulled up the e-mail with the video attachment and again watched the clip of two young girls who’d made a personal movie with a boy. They weren’t that good, really, but they showed promise.


  1. It amazes me at times where the stories come from. This one comes from two separate events. First, I recently read a book about discussing the B&B with your kids. It was a real eye opener. One of the major take-aways from the book is to be the primary source of information for your kids. As parents, it's better if we shape their ideas than other kids or the media. Secondly, a few months ago, I had a conversation with my neighbor, both of us complaining about the cable provider. "I don't like the WiFi device we have to use," he said. "Anyone around here can get access to your computer if they know how. And then they could be watching porn from your hub." So there you have it: two separate life events coming together to make one story.

  2. I think you're less likely to learn it from Joey Carlucci than from joecrules1994. What would you recommend the father do to remedy Derek's curiosity, though, Stephen?

  3. It's true to say, inspiration can come from all and any direction.

    I sometimes wonder if my generation, and generations before us, are the lucky ones, or unlucky ones in this deal. As far as the B+B are concerned, due to the media and other modern sources, the younger generation are far wiser than I was at their age. I'm still not sure who is the luckier though.

  4. You should never leave your password lying around like that. ;) At least the neighbor should have only allowed some mac addresses access to his internet.

    And I have to say it is odd how this story mirrors my own teenage years.

  5. First of all I'll go to the wrtiting. Nice touch ending with the same line Derek used to humor his trying to be with it dad!

    As far as the situation goes, I think you pegged the reality of it. Parents are concerned but kids are saavy. Wise beyond their years they may well be with all the technologiaclly easy access, but somehow they still manage to make dumb, dumb, dumb decisions.

    Square parents rule!

  6. John: Kids will always be curious, both boys and girls. What I learned from the book, though, is that parents shouldn't be like my own father, who said, "I just figure you already learned it from your brothers or at school." If we don't want our children to learn it from someone else, or if we want to have some input on the messages they take away, then we need to take an active role in who they play with, where they have access to the internet, etc. In other words, be square. But, as Harry writes: Square Parent's Rule.

    Steve: No doubt about it, kids today are learning things at a younger age than we did. As a parent, that scares me.

    Sonia: Thanks for stopping by. Truth be told, there's probably a little bit of this in all of our lives.

    Harry: I agree. Square Parent's Rule! Dare to be square!

  7. It's funny you mention the inspiration being a book. As I was reading the first part I was reminded of a book I had picked up about the B&B conversation a few years back myself. Ah, the joys of parenting, huh?

    I love the writing in this one. You captured the awkwardness of the moment perfectly and the ending was so true to real life. Great job!

  8. Hi Stephen -

    Some great writing in here, and I did like the twist into Derek's frank awareness; in fact, his having enough history to have an opinion on what he was watching.

    Kids definitely know a lot more and experience a lot more about the world than parents would like them to by whatever age. I guess the important thing is to remember that kids appear on a continuum between childhood and adulthood. They don't arrive one day 'fully fledged'. Somewhere in the middle they have to -- and will -- learn all that adult stuff. So, as you say, better to be a person they can talk to,than not.

    Good story topic.


  9. I can't help thinking his dad's left it a bit late if he's already of an age where he's mowing lawns for money and buying iPads. I did start when it said "two young girls" - exactly what is he getting himself into?

  10. Chuck: It's sad that a story like this can be true-to-life, isn't it? But look at many of the news stories today, and you can't help but realize that this stuff happens every day.

    Stephen: Thanks for stopping by. Yes, his opinion is a little frightening. Just how much of this stuff has he already been exposed to in order to decide whether material like this is good or bad? It makes you wonder.

    Icy: No doubt about it, Derek's dad arrived at the station and doesn't realize the train already left--years ago. My approach to the issue, with Derek receiving the video as an attachment via e-mail, makes you wonder just how far he's already jumped into this and exactly what type of stuff he's watching. It makes you worry about him. Like Harry already mentioned, kids tend to do very stupid things.