It’s a warm evening in Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, and six mothers, all connected through the usual ties (work, kids, community groups), are clustered around a kitchen table, discussing their adolescents. Beth, a public-school teacher and the youngest of the lot, mentions that her 15-year-old, Carl, has lately “been using his intelligence for evil.”
The women all stop talking and look at her.
“Instead of getting good grades, he figures out how to get around the administrator,” she says, referring to the software she’d installed to regulate his computer use. “And then I see, like, three inputs for ‘Russian whore.’ ”
Or so I thought she said when I first transcribed the tape. When I followed up with Beth sometime later, she informed me that I’d misheard: It was “three-input Russian whore.”
Excerpted from All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, by Jennifer Senior, to be published on January 28 by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. © 2014 by Jennifer Senior. All rights reserved. The parents and teenagers in this excerpt are referred to with pseudonyms.
At any rate, Samantha, who also teaches at a public school, dives in at this moment with the force of a cannonball. “Take the freaking computer, Beth!” she cries. “Take it!”
“He has to use it. They turn things in online.”