On Protecting The Beaner's Privacy
I have become very conscious lately that The Beaner is growing up and becoming a real person, a person who deserves privacy. Something Heather Armstrong said at a BlogHer panel on this subject really struck me, and I've been mulling it over ever since. She said, in reply to a question about whether she worried about her daughter hating her later, when Leta realized how much of her life was on the Internet, "I've already begun censoring what I say about Leta in order to protect her privacy. For the first two years, her story was the same as every other baby's, so I didn't feel like I was invading her privacy by sharing it." [Although I used quotes here, this is a paraphrase; it looks like the podcast for the session hasn't been posted yet, but I would have been too lazy to download and listen to get the words exactly right anyway. It's the gist I'm concerned with.] This quote struck me for two reasons:
1. I'd never thought about it before, but she's absolutely right: for the first two years, every baby's story is essentially the same. There are variations, obviously, but the developmental milestones and parental angst are pretty universal—and it's this universality that probably makes reading other parents' blogs so enjoyable for me. The majority of my blogroll is made up of blogs that make me feel like I'm not the only one out there feeling the way I'm feeling or doing the things I'm doing, that I am not alone.
2. I've been worrying and waffling over The Beaner's privacy since a couple days after he was born. At first I refused to post photos of him on Flickr, because it seemed too public (I had a password-protected site for family that I used for the first six months or so), even though I knew Flickr had privacy controls. (I didn't use them mainly because my family members aren't particularly Internet-savvy, and having them set up accounts anywhere is still pretty painful.) I wasn't sure how much of our experiences to share, which is probably surprising, given how much I *have* shared. (Believe it or not, there are still many things that have gone unsaid.) And now that The Beaner's approaching age two and making it more and more obvious that he is going to remember what we say about him now, I worry even more that I will embarrass him, open him up to ridicule, or make him a target of an unsavory admirer (a much more remote but very scary possibility).
So basically, I've been struggling with the privacy issue all along, even during the universal parts. It's why I started writing milestones in a little book in my nightstand several months ago—so I'd have a place to record them that wasn't public. Some of what's in that book eventually makes it into this blog, but most doesn't. Last night I ran for that little book moments after a major milestone occurred because I wanted to make sure I recorded it... and as much as I wanted to record it here, where I usually take the time to think about what I want to say and how I want to say it, and where I know some of my close friends and faithful readers will be just as excited about it as I was, I'm just not sure it's something The Beaner would want me to share. If I see you in person, I'll tell you then.
What I will say here is that The Beaner has started to speak in short (but complete) sentences. Yesterday Al and The Beaner surprised me at the Starbucks while I was out on my morning walk, and Al went on from there to work and The Beaner walked home with me. After Al left us and before I totally melted town from having to carry a coffee, a bag of bread, and The Beaner's milk while trying to hurry him along so we could make it to the house before Hannah did, The Beaner said very clearly, "I want Daddy." He's also started saying, "Go walking and looking for Bobs [Saabs]", among other things. I hope the pediatrician is suitably impressed when we go in for our last well-baby visit for a while tomorrow. (We were supposed to go in July, but we missed that appointment due to a scheduling error on the office's part.) She hasn't seen him since April, and I think she's going to be pretty surprised by how much he's grown and how much more verbal he is now. Then again, she probably won't; if our experiences are as universal as Heather suggested, she's seen it all before.