The other day my husband pointed out a phone booth; a rare sight, nowadays. The Little Bird asked what it was, and D explained that there was a time when not everyone had a cell phone, or that even there was a time where those didn’t exist.
After the shock and awe of such a statement, she asked us how we called anyone, and we told her we had phones at home, but not in the car. And if we were out and needed to call somebody, we would have to find a pay phone and put in money to make a phone call.
Which got me thinking, that my kids are never going to fully understand this #firstworldproblem. It is the equivalent to me watching Little House on the Prairie, and trying to understand what it was like to have to walk to the well to pump water to wash my face! Or wash the dishes.
I am happy I grew up without a cell phone in everyone’s hand. I’m happy that not every inch of my childhood was documented and lives on the world wide web for anyone to access.
Now, as I typed that last sentence, I paused. I am documenting my kids’ childhoods. Almost every inch of it. But I made a choice when I started this blog that I would not document their faces and I don’t share their names.
While I do tell tales of family time and of adolescent struggles; of school mishaps and sisterly love, I made the decision that they would only be known as my Little Bird and my Little Mouse. I remember having a conversation with my pal GM, when I started this space asking him for advice. I didn’t feel comfortable putting them out there like that. I didn’t want strangers to be able to put a face to their name. He, of course, told me I could do whatever I wanted. It was my blog, and they were my kids.
And this is how the ‘Little’s’ were born… #littlebird #littlemouse
I don’t regret that decision one minute. I also don’t judge others who freely share their kids’ pictures and names, it’s their prerogative.
I just didn’t know how they would both feel years from now, that I have shared it all; bared it all for anyone to read. I didn’t want them to resent the fact that people could google their names and find all these stories of their childhood that they essentially never gave me permission to share.
But they are my stories too. This is my space and I have found so much help from my followers over the years, from sharing my stories. I’ve also bonded over the silly-side of motherhood and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. This is the space that I built. And in the future, should they wish to join in, and be a part of it, they have the right to do so. But until they are old enough to be allowed to sign up for an Instagram or Facebook account, they will not be exposed to the #darkcorners of the internet.
Until then, they can live at my place (both physically and in theory), and know that I didn’t just put it all out there.
Yes, my kids have their own tablets and yes, the go on YouTube. But early on, they learned that it wasn’t a good idea to “like” and “comment below”, which are two of the goals YouTubers have. They are passive watchers.
I got creative when posting pictures to my Instagram account, and look forward to the challenge of capturing a faceless picture of them. I look for different angles, interesting obstacles and when all else fails, I tell them just to turn around to take a shot from the back. They are used to it now.
And while they have friends (and cousins) who have Instagram and other feeds, they will tell them they are not allowed to have their picture taken.
You see, what I’ve learned is kids these days follow all their followers-followers. (do you #follow?!)
And while they start out with their classmates, and their friends, they eventually end up with thousands of followers. I don’t even have thousands of followers! And I find that scary. You don’t know who these thousand people are! And they start to share information about themselves, where they are and who they are with, and all your parental controls are out the window.
So, if my girls want to do that when they are 14 and 15 years old, I probably can’t stop them. I can – and will monitor them, and stalk them and watch over them like hawks. But since they are on the cusp of 7 and 10, none of that is happening now. Not yet.
Call me paranoid, call me crazy, call me whatever you want, but I sleep well at night and I feel secure in my decisions. Who knows, in a few years, they may call me crazy and ask to be included in my world; but only time will tell. For me, I am content that I left that decision up to them. And when they do start their social lives, they can start from scratch, and create their own personas, and their own handles and their own spaces.
I just hope I provided the proper guidelines for them to, at the very least, consider how to conduct themselves.