September 09, 2008
Whose story is it, anyway?

Another star athlete takes the field.As I write this, our son Nolan is three years old. He is a middle child, with three years separating him from his older brother, Alexander, and there's another three between him and baby brother Andrew. He has just started pre-school, and is racing past the milestones that all three-year-olds approach at around this time: potty training, independence, asserting his personal preferences, etc., etc.

This is not his story.

Oh, sure, I posted that picture of him playing on the school playground because it's a darn fine photo, and it shows off his enthusiasm as well as his beauty. But, more to the point, I posted it because I like it. I took the photo, and I'm proud of the way I captured him. And I'm proud of him. This is my blog, and even when I'm writing about my kids, or politics, or pop culture... I'm writing about me. The photos here are not just about the subjects of the photos; they are also about the photographer.

So riddle me this, Batman: at what point does a story (or a photo, or whatever have you) cease to be mine to post? I've commented on this dilemma previously, but it's becoming increasingly relevant now. For example, I've noted before that you don't see me mention certain family members here because they prefer to keep any details about themselves private. But when their details are also my details, and I want to go public... where is it appropriate to draw the line?

While that's already a bit of an issue with regard to adult friends and relatives, what about the people in my life for whom I currently make those decisions, but who will eventually be making their own? I have devoted an entire section of my website to each of my three sons... but what happens as they get older, and assume more responsibility for their own image?

When Andrew reaches the age where most of his friends have relatively unfettered access to the internet, how much of his life's story is it fair for me to have posted online? When Nolan starts dating, how easy should it be for his prospective paramours to discover the details of his potty training? Am I exposing Alex to teasing down the road in high school because today, while he is six, I broadcast that my son wants to compete in the Olympics?

When I was in high school, I was simultaneously an extrovert and shy. "Shy?" you ask. "Is that possible?" Well, what I mean is, I was shy when it came to romance. I was never very forward when it came to girls, and I always kept any budding romances pretty much to myself. Sure enough, when given the chance to meet one of my girlfriends, what did my mom do? Pull out the old photo albums and show pictures of me from prehistoric times. A regular Cringeosaurus.

But this is different. I've been keeping a blog for all these years as a means of keeping in touch with old friends and new; a way to let y'all know how things are going in my life, for those who might find it interesting. This is *my* story (and, for all that, it's only the part of my story that I currently choose to broadcast... and it's highly edited, at that). My story necessarily includes the fact that I have three brilliant, beautiful, athletic boys. (And I'm not biased in any way about them.)

At what point, though, do I back off from sharing stories here that include them? If one of them faces a particularly challenging problem that is of concern to me, at what point do I say, "One of my children..." instead of saying, "Alex...". At what point do I stop sharing publicly the photos I take of them? (And, instead, I save them somewhere, only to be hauled out at family reunions or when new significant others are introduced?)

I love my boys.

They are growing so fast.

How long can I hold onto them? And how long can I share my experience of them with you?

Posted by on September 09, 2008 11:24 PM in the following Department(s): Essays , The Boys

 Comments

These lines between family ties are determined by the individual. As a parent you have carte blanche. For my mom, my story was always her story. What's interesting is now that she's gone I feel a sense of liberty that I didn't have before. My story? Positively optimistic to say that my story is just beginning, isn't it? :)

Posted by: Amanda on September 10, 2008 8:33 AM

Other bloggers are struggling with this too. See:

http://www.slate.com/id/2192374/

and

http://gametheorist.blogspot.com/2008/06/writing-about-your-kids-in-public.html

Posted by: Jeff Metzner on September 11, 2008 7:11 AM

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On Sep 11, Jeff Metzner said:
"Other bloggers are struggling with this too. ..." on entry: Whose story is it, anyway?.

On Sep 10, Amanda said:
"These lines between family ties are determine..." on entry: Whose story is it, anyway?.

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