Smartmom had barely recovered from chaperoning the past weekend’s slumber party at the Marriott with five 12-year-old girls. She couldn’t sleep and she did what she often does when she can’t sleep: she checked her e-mail and noticed an e-mail from another mom who lives in the neighborhood.
“I want you to know that there are a series of photos on Facebook of the girls at a party in their underwear. The photos are very suggestive. I’d never want to interfere but I thought u should know,” she wrote.
Smartmom looked at the pictures that this mom had conveniently attached. They were of the Oh So Feisty One in the adorable polka-dotted and striped underwear they’d bought together just a few months before.
But the pose and her expression were, er, yeah, kinda provocative.
Truth be told, it looked like she was wearing a bathing suit and the girls were just having fun. But Facebook is a very public place and if those photos got into the wrong hands — like a child porn site — it would be pretty awful. It’s a good thing that Dumb Editor didn’t run the shot.
It all started because OSFO had borrowed Hepcat’s fancy schmancy new Canon camera during the Marriott sleepover. She took more than 300 pictures and then gave the camera back to Smartmom and Hepcat, who looked at all the pictures for intell about what was going on down the corridor in the hotel.
Of the 300 pictures, there were none of the girls in their underwear.
Smartmom concluded that the pictures in question must have been taken with one of the other girls’ cameras. Smartmom went on Facebook, but she couldn’t get to OSFO’s Facebook profile because OSFO unfriended her some time ago.
She figured out that one of the girls at the party had put up maybe 100 pictures and these were just part of that group. Since it was the middle of the night, there was nothing she could do.
The next morning, Smartmom woke OSFO up. “You have to get your friend to take those pictures down,” she told her.
“I know, I know. I’m texting her now,” OSFO said.
Clearly, OSFO was aware of the pictures and not happy about the situation either. Smartmom was amazed that she and OSFO were on the exact same page. But when OSFO left for school, her friend had still not returned her text. That meant that the pictures would still be up until after school.
Smartmom was stressing. At 3 pm, she e-mailed OSFO’s friend and left a gentle note not wanting to demonize her or point fingers.
“Please take down those pictures of OSFO,” Smartmom wrote. “Facebook is very public and I think OSFO would prefer that they not be up there for all to see. Thanks so much for taking care of this!”
OSFO’s friend, who is a bright, lovely girl wrote back soon after:
“OSFO told me today during school, and I told her that I would take them down. We took them as a joke in the hotel and when I was uploading my pictures I completely forgot about them. Really sorry,” the girl wrote.
Smartmom called OSFO on her cellphone and told her that she’d e-mailed her friend.
“Why did you e-mail my friend?” OSFO asked. Smartmom took a deep breath.
“It was important that she take those pictures down,” Smartmom said.
“Why is this so important to you?” OSFO asked.
Smartmom kept it short, but here is a combination of what Smartmom did and didn’t say.
Smartmom, like Cyndi Lauper, knows that “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” When she was 12, 13 and 14, Smartmom, her sister and a friend used to perform elaborate musical numbers in the living room wearing camisoles and slips. You should have seen the choreography of “Mein Herr” from “Cabaret” (“You have to understand the way I am, Mein Herr, a tiger’s not a tiger but a lamb, Mein Herr…”)
Now that was kinky.
But thank Buddha there were no cheap, portable video cameras or Facebook back in the 1970s.
When she was a junior in high school, Smartmom and an ensemble of her school friends performed “Don’t Tell Mama” also from “Cabaret” for the entire school wearing their sexiest black lingerie (“Mama doesn’t have an inkling that I’m working in a nightclub in a pair of lacy pants…”).
So Smartmom gets what those photos were about. But it’s a different time and place now that our lives are enmeshed with the Internet.
While Facebook may aspire to be a place where people can interact safely with their friends and the people around them, nobody can guarantee that the site is entirely free of illegal, offensive, pornographic or otherwise inappropriate material.
Smartmom told OSFO that while the pictures were beautiful, there are bad people out there who will steal those pictures and put them on child pornography sites.
OSFO listened and seemed to understand. Mostly she seemed miffed that Smartmom had e-mailed her friend.
“I told you I was taking care of it,” she said.
And she was right. She had told her friend, and Smartmom didn’t need to meddle in that way.
But some meddling is good. The parent who called Smartmom in the first place did the right thing. There’s nothing wrong with reporting back to a parent if you observe any kind of inappropriate behavior at your house, on the streets, at school. Anywhere. In most cases, parents will want to know because they need all the help they can get.