Babes in the Woods

Anybody could be tracking your children online. Even me.

There would be other opportunities. Every so often, for the rest of the summer, I’d log on to Jenna’s profile. I just missed the gang’s trip to a hot-dog stand in Hollywood, and I would have gone to the fast-food place on Wilshire where they went for burgers one afternoon, but Jenna said she wasn’t going, so I skipped it, too. Whenever a group of girls came bouncing down my neighborhood shopping street, I scanned their faces, and once I thought I saw her through the big plate-glass window of Jamba Juice, but I wasn’t sure. Her boyfriend went away on vacation for a couple of weeks, and she missed him terribly. But then he came back, and before you knew it, they were both ready to go off to college.

I sort of drifted away after that, although I keep an eye on Jenna now and then. Her university has a helpful online student directory, so I know her campus address and phone number; it was also surprisingly easy to learn the times and locations of two of her courses. According to Mapquest, I could be waiting outside her French class in a little over two hours. But what do you think I am—some kind of creep?

Presented by

Caitlin Flanagan is the author of To Hell With All That (2006). She is at work on Girl Land, a book about the emotional life of pubescent girls. More

Caitlin FlanaganCaitlin Flanagan began her magazine-writing career, in 2001, with a series of extended book reviews about the conflicts at the very heart of modern life—specifically, modern domestic life as it is lived by professional-class women. Flanagan has quickly established herself as a highly entertaining social critic unafraid to take on self-indulgence and political correctness, and her reviews provide penetrating and witheringly funny observations about the sexes and their discontents.

Flanagan's Atlantic articles have been named as finalists for the National Magazine Award five times, and her essay "Confessions of a Prep School College Counselor," which ran in September 2001, was included in the 2002 compilation of Best American Magazine Writing. Her work has also been included in Best American Essays 2003 and Best American Magazine Writing 2003. She is the author of the book To Hell with All That—an exploration, based on her Atlantic articles, of the lives of modern women.

Born and raised in Berkeley, California, Flanagan earned a B.A. and an M.A. in Art History from the University of Virginia. She now lives in California, where she spends her time writing and raising twins.

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