We’ve all heard and read ad nauseum about “internet predators.” Whilst, of course we need to take precautions, we should be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater! After all there are predators in bars and nightclubs too!

I’m the proud mother of a very smart (and slightly socially awkward) son who will be 20 years old in January 2013. As a toddler and young child people called him “slow to warm up”. In other words, he was the little boy hanging on my pant leg for at least 30 minutes or so in a new environment. He never really dated anyone and chose to go to his Matric Dance (like a Prom) with a couple of his mates rather than ask a girl to go with him! Oh … did I mention that he could type on a keyboard before he learnt to write? Yup, computers have featured prominently in his life since he was about 3 years old!

Just over a year ago he “met” a young lady whilst playing an online “multi-player role playing game.” Over a period of approximately 8 months of playing, video-chatting every night on Skype, Facebook posts, etc., my son and this young lady changed their Facebook status to “in a relationship”.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that, at first, I found it hard to accept that this relationship was real! I was just happy that I had a teenage son who stayed home at night, had never been drunk in his life, didn’t smoke cigarettes and thought that “trying drugs is stupid”! He was happy and we were happy.

Then he came to tell us that his girlfriend was coming to Cape Town and was it ok for her to stay with us. For a second my hubby and I didn’t really know how to respond. In the end there was only one answer we could give … “Of course son, we’ll be happy to meet her!”

You realise that up until that moment, all we knew about this girl was what our naturally taciturn son chose to share with us. I told him that since she’d be staying with us, I’d like her to be my Facebook friend so we could get to know each other a little bit. They were both “cool” with that, so I felt a bit better about the situation. E and I started to send each other messages. Her English is very good even though it’s not her first language, so we didn’t have much trouble communicating. She seemed nice enough.

Eventually the day arrived. I prepared the guest bedroom for her. And when the time came, my son and I went to fetch her at the airport. I had no idea what to expect really, but when my son and E saw each other they hugged and kissed like this wasn’t the first time they’d met in real life! There was none of the awkwardness I expected (except from me … I wasn’t really sure if I should hug her or not.). In the end, my Italian origins won out and I hugged her like a long lost relative too!

From that moment on, E and my son were virtually joined at the hip. My 16 year-old daughter proclaimed that she was “disgusted by their PDAs” (public displays of affection). She never really took to E, but then again, she’d never seen her brother behave that way. He never even liked to cuddle as a baby, and now you couldn’t pry those two apart with a crowbar!

Long story short, she spent 3 weeks with us before she had to return home. Life has gone back to “normal.” “Normal” includes my son spending hours every night on Skype with her. I have no doubt that she is his first real love!

He’s now saving up to visit her and her family in Germany for Easter next year. So far, their relationship has endured the test of time, the test of physical separation and (at least for her) meeting the family. I suppose, whether this relationship continues to endure or not will depend on my son’s experience when he is on her “home turf”. Watch this space ….

How would you have responded if you found yourself in my situation? Do you believe that a relationship which starts on the Internet can endure in real life?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona from Cape Town. She shares her home with a devoted husband, 2 teens, 2 dogs and 2 cats. You can find her alter ego on www.blogbythephoenix.com.

Photo source: www.newstechnology.blogspot.com

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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