Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Two-Faced

Today my little man turns two. It's crazy how fast it goes; every cliché about time is true. As Vince Vaughn so famously slurred in Swingers, our little baby's all growns up! (And yet I still only find time to shower every other day, and leave the house 99% of the time dressed like a third-grader on a camping trip. What am I doing wrong?)

But no, seriously, what happened?
It feels like just yesterday I waddled into a bar called "Last Exit," thirty-nine weeks pregnant and unable to appreciate the irony, not yet knowing that less than twenty-four hours later I would be wearing a mesh diaper and staring down into the red, pouty face of the new center of my universe.

There's so much I could write about Sam, but the very fact that he's growing more and more every day into his own funny, charming, smart, curious and fabulous little person makes me feel like I shouldn't. It's bad enough that my Observer column is all about parenting (although I try to make it about my struggles, not Sam's), so I've been trying to steer clear of mom content here. While I know that Sam is still safely in neutral territory--not too many people would accuse me of exploiting him or invading his privacy at this age--I still worry about the ethical implications of telling his story in my writing.

Sidebar: I hate it when people answer questions no one asked them. Like, articles that say "WHY I'M NOT GOING BACK TO CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN." It's like, OK, don't go. Leave all of that delicious, lard-massaged flatbread for me, who cares? You might be feeling that way now. So don't write about your kid, then, and shut up about it. TELL ME ABOUT CLAIRE DANES' EMMY CLEAVAGE DISASTER INSTEAD. But speaking of Angela Chase, I'm having some major, inner monologue voice-over level introspection about this topic, and I need to word vomit for a minute before I move on. So please bear with me.

But no, seriously, what happened?
Parents draw their own boundaries when it comes to putting their kids online, and I don't think it's my place to say what's right or wrong for someone else. I also completely understand the impulse to share with abandon. It seems unrealistic, as some writers have didactically argued, to NEVER post photos of kids, or mention them by name; for better or worse, we live on the internet now, and sites like Facebook and Instagram are the way we connect. They're the new one-hour photo, a way for out-of-state grandparents to get to see their grandkids grow. Blogs are the new baby books. That said, for me--now that my baby isn't really a baby anymore, and is starting to form his own thoughts, say his own things, and exhibit the very grown-up human feelings of caution and embarrassment, I'm starting to feel uncomfortable putting details about his life, however small and seemingly insignificant, out into the Internet ether. I want him to grow up with as much of a digital clean slate as I can give him. I mean, he'll have to suffer the consequences of my oversharing about myself no matter what, so I might as well spare him the indignity of having me overshare about him. (Plus, over the course of his newborn months, I probably already did enough damage to keep a future therapist busy for at least a year.)

So, Sam, on your big boy birthday, as you officially graduate into toddlerhood, my gift to you is that I'm keeping you to myself (don't worry, I also got you a motorized Fisher Price tool set and Mr. Potato Head, I know it's not just the thought that counts). I desperately want to tell the world how wonderful you are, but I'll try to let you show them instead, later on, after I've had the chance to teach you as best I can how to be a semi-functioning human. (Cliff Notes: Do as I say, not as I do.) I'll stop answering questions no one asks about me, and I'll definitely stop answering questions no one's asked about you.

Also I will try to think of your middle-school self and not write the word "vagina" so often.

Except for that time. Sorry.

Love, Mama

P.S. Future middle-schoolers of Brooklyn, for the record, I'm not Sam's mom, forget everything I wrote. We don't even have the same last name, duh. I'm his... cool older cousin. From France.

Shut up. IT'S TOTALLY POSSIBLE. 
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6 comments :

  1. I told myself that I would write my kids' stories until they were old enough to write their own. Now that they are, I only include them in stories where I'm talking about the family as a whole or they are only a side bar to a story that I'm telling that isn't specifically about them.

    Except today's blog post, but it's a story that happened five years ago.

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    1. I have no doubt that you are incredibly considerate in your sharing, Ross. I think I'm being overcautious because I don't have a great natural filter :)

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  2. Bonjour Sassy...or is it Sasse with that special thing that turns e's into a's that I can't figure out how to get into a comment. You know what I mean. That's an interesting point that I hadn't thought of, the whole clean digital slate. I don't write about my kids every day, but I do write about them here and there. The youngest gets mentioned most often because he's a lot younger than the others and has some of the freshest perspectives. Sometimes when I go back and read old posts, I smile again at the moments I would have forgotten because I'm getting older and I can't seem to remember what happened yesterday, never mind last year. And I think to myself, someday he's going to be happy that he has these stories from his childhood. He might not care at 15, but at 40 when I'm (probably) dead, he's going to be happy, I'm sure of it. I hope he still has access to them then. That's a whole other can of worms. I guess the obvious solution is to keep a non-public record. I'm not sure if I would keep up with that. I did have baby books and they are still empty. And for the record, I really like reading about people's kids. Maybe not every burp and load, but I like to keep up on the funny things they do and say. Yikes. I didn't mean to unload here (speaking of loads, ha) but you presented something in a way I hadn't considered and struck a chord. I love that!

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    1. I agree completely with this sentiment. Our kids will enjoy reading about how their parents felt about this and that life event in the future! Also, I too enjoy reading about other people's kids. Not in a creepy way, promise!

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    2. Thanks, both of you! I also agree that there's a way to do it that's a wonderful time capsule of sorts. I just get scared because I read SO many mom blogs whose kids (in my opinion) are way overexposed. I love reading about them, sort of like they're fictional characters in a favorite book... but then I get creeped out that so many strangers have access to intimate details of their lives without their knowledge.

      Anyway, like I said, I think it's a huge gray area and everyone needs to do what they feel comfortable with!

      (And P.S. I'm so glad I've been blogging on and off about Sam because Lord knows I haven't kept any kind of baby book... my bad.)

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  3. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM!!!! You're awesome, you're mom is awesome and I love that she uses the word vagina as much as she does. One of my best laughs was with your mom....True Story.

    have a great year little man!!

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