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I Told My Kid I Write About Her and It Wasn't Pretty

It dawned on me hard and heavy the other day, as I was writing yet another expose about my daughter, Aria. Holy shit, I thought, she's old enough to read my articles about her. And this may be a potential disaster.

While she has zero interest at this point in anything more than her Spotify playlist, the time may come when she pokes around on my computer and discovers the interweb, where my raw, public ramblings on topics about her such as body type, comparing her to other kids and fears about her talent live. Oy. These are things you don't exactly want your daughter reading about.

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Things that I felt OK writing about when she was not as literate and savvy, I now suspect, may transform into something ugly between us, if she reads them at 12. Did I really think she would be 5 and shielded from my blogging forever?

I decided I needed to talk to her about this. Now.

ME: "So Aria, you know I write these articles for mom.me, right?"

ARIA: "Yah, sorta."

Remember you posted that picture of me on Instagram and I didn't give you permission because I didn't like the picture.

ME: "You know what I'm talking about, like when I scream, begging you guys to please go to sleep because I have an article due. Those."

ARIA: "Yah, so?"

ME: "I write a lot of them (big smiles now) … about you!"

Beat.

ARIA: "About me? Why? Like what?"

ME: "Oh ya know. It's a mom thing, like for moms about moms and you know, our struggles being, um, you know ... moms!"

ARIA: "Weird."

Beat.

ME: "How do you feel about it? Because, I'm thinking, and this is kinda cool, I'll write a piece on this moment! So, how do you feel about me telling you I'm writing a piece on you?"

ARIA: "What?"

ME: "What are your thoughts?"

ARIA: "Well, it depends. What are they about? Because remember you posted that picture of me on Instagram and I didn't give you permission because I didn't like the picture. You do that a lot. You're not allowed to post pictures if someone doesn't want it. You have to ask."

Oh shit. Evade.

ME: "I write about, you know, different topics, like sharing a room!"

My most benign post ever.

ME: "And, oh! That thing about how you didn't want to do the swim test."

ARIA: "Because you forced me to do something I didn't want to do. You wrote about that? What did you write?"

I don't mention that I mentioned the bloody nose and the vomiting.

Aria is not a concept, but a person, and here I am writing about private events and she has no say in the matter.

ME: "How you overcame a fear! And how cool it was. It's a really inspiring story!"

ARIA: "Not really. I was like throwing up in the bathroom and you made me do something I didn't wanna do."

ME: "Let's not focus on that part."

So this went on for a while. And we didn't get very far. We left with Aria thinking it's OK for me to write about her, as long as I tell her what I'm writing about. I explained it's a way for me to "heal" around the more challenging areas of parenting and while it may seem specific to her, that she is just a stand in for many kids and many moms.

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I left this encounter feeling a bit ill. I started to feel like all my articles about her are a betrayal of her privacy. Aria is not a concept, but a person, and here I am writing about private events and she has no say in the matter. One day she may feel disgusted and embarrassed when she reads them. She may want off the internet. It feels exploitative. After all, I do get paid to write them. And, to add insult, they will exist on the Internet in perpetuity.

I have decided to make an effort to not exploit her or AJ. I will always write about them, but I will make a strong effort not to write about anything that may come back to haunt or shame them. That being said, it's way too late for me to create those boundaries around my personal essays. I am, for perpetuity, fucked.

Photograph by: Twenty20

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