We were having a family meeting last night about Em's computer usage. She received a laptop for her Bat Mitzvah (thanks, Mom!) and while it's literally been the Best Present Ever, it's also brought up some issues that I hadn't really considered.
I've always been very anti-computer-in-the-kids'-rooms, and I still am. Except that there are actually lots of reasons for her to have to use her computer in her room: The fact that our house just isn't large or nook-y enough for her to have a quiet place to do her homework, for instance, and often she needs her computer for homework. Or the fact that she likes to listen to music while she writes, and I don't want N distracted by the noise when he's doing his homework. Or that she likes to shoot and create videos, and that noise is a problem. Or that she likes to video Skype with friends instead of talking on the phone, and that can get loud, too. You get the idea.
So the meeting last night was about addressing her needs for privacy and our needs for less chaos, and balancing them with my concerns about how much time she spends on the computer in general, about not being able to keep an eye on her online activities, and -- perhaps most importantly to me -- my need for her not to be spending all of her time at home in her room with the door closed.
It was a long and productive conversation, and we came to some decisions we all can live with. At the end, it was just Em and I at the table, and I was reiterating the main points of the agreement -- as I often, and no doubt maddeningly, like to do to be sure we're all agreeing to the same thing.
Finally, she asked, "OK. Are we done?"
And I said, "Yes, we're done. But please, do keep in mind, I really mean it about not spending all your time in your room. I need you to at least be out with the rest of us often enough that you can remember what we look like."
She was passing my chair as she came around the table to leave the kitchen, and she dropped a kiss on the top of my head.
"Of course I won't forget what you look like," she said, breezily. "I have lots of pictures of you on my computer."