Wednesday, August 20, 2008

don't tell

I've been ruminating about family privacy. I have a family website full of photos from every minute since my children were born. We label pictures with names and places for all our far-flung family to enjoy. For friends in the photos we've stuck to a first name only policy. I've kept the family website separate and unlinked here. (But if you email me I'll share it.) On this blog I took tips from blog-friends and I've stuck to pseudonyms for everyone. I've started calling my kids Pook and Bug much more often since I started blogging here!

What I haven't been private about are family stories. I've laid out Pook's first day of school tantrum and his no-applause rule from swim team. I've talked about Bug's behavior and heart chart. They are why I'm blogging. I need to vent about some of their doings. I also want to share some of the funny things they say and do. But I don't want to embarrass them. And I'm not sure of the line there.

Occasionally when he does something (bad or good) Pook will specifically say, "don't tell anybody". He knows I'm a chatter. He knows I often talk about him. If he knew what a blog was and knew his life was being written out for anyone to see, he'd be mortified. This would be much worse than having us applaud at a swim meet. It would be worse than hearing me tell his grandparents about him. It would even be worse than his reaction yesterday.

Yesterday a friend was telling me about her son's first day of school while our kids were yelling and playing outdoors. She'd been less than impressed- downright unhappy -about meeting his teacher. She said she'd cried when she left her son because she didn't want him to be with her all day. It happened to have been Pook's kindergarten teacher and since I'd been very happy with her I told her what I could to make her feel better. I asked her if she really wanted to trade first days of school. I started to tell her about our first day. When I got to the part about having to give a consequence for "unpleasant behavior" (which I named) I heard crying in the den. Pook was right there listening, not outdoors.

I talked to him in private about my reason for sharing the story. I wanted him to know that I'd been miserable all day, like my friend had been, and that by telling her about it I might be able to make her feel better. I knew that he'd had a good day even though I'd been a mess and I suspected that her son was going to have a good year despite her misgivings. He agreed to let me finish my story as long as I stuck to the script, "and he had a good day anyway, just like your son probably will."

Question is: will Pook ever forgive me if he learns about this blog? Is it fair to share my life online when it involves him? Most of my readers (the huge number that I have...) know me and know him. He is only anonymous to a few of you. But he wouldn't want any of you to be reading about him. Please, even if you aren't usually a commenter, leave your ideas and opinions here today.


  1. I struggle with this all the time. I started blogging when AJ was two and at that point, shortly before he started preschool and our two lives, still hopelessly intertwined, were starting to separate a little. I didn't worry about it as much then, because I didn't think he'd understand or care. As he gets older, though, I worry about it more and more. He knows I blog and he so far has not asked to read it. But I'm pretty sure some of what I say would embarrass him. But he's such a big part of my life that I feel a little proprietary about our stories too. I rationalize it by the pseudonyms. It could be anyone. I feel like it's okay since I'm not telling people who know him, for the most part. And the few people who do are smart enough not to mention it to him and aren't around enough to talk to him anyway. They are not his peers; they are mine. But I think the rules here are in constant flux, just as our kids are in constant flux. I think we just have to trust our consciences here and hope we're doing the right thing.

  2. This will probably be an issue for us down the road...I have to wonder though, do you think that once he is older, he will appreciate the record of his childhood? While he may be embarrassed by it now, I can see how your blog could actually become an appreciated treasure, as it's kind of a virtual baby book. Something that may seem embarrassing now, but with time he will appreciate as priceless. I'm not really sure, though. But wanted to throw out that perspective...

  3. I'm in denial about this issue. I don't use pseudonyms because I figure someone could hear me yelling my kids' names at Target and follow me home much more easily than they could track us down through my blog. But the idea that they would be embarrassed by something I've written? Yeah, it's a distinct possibility. I don't have any answers except I guess when they start to complain about it, I'll have to stop. For now, I agree with chefsara's take: I view it as a virtual baby book and I hope they'll someday look back and feel grateful that so much of their young lives was cherished and recorded.