Kenny Bodanis is proud that his son wants to join him where he works… on the internet. Uh-oh.
As I typed, he leaned on me. He’s leaned on me since he was born, as all children lean on their parents – to warm them as they feed; to comfort them after nightmares; to sooth them when they’re injured.
He’s seven years old, and growing quickly. Now, when he leans as I write, it can occasionally be as much a nuisance as a luxury.
“Sweetie, please. I can’t do my work with you pushing on my shoulder like that; you’re heavier than you used to be.”
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Blogging.” I answered, mildly frustrated.
“You and your sister, actually.” Confessing he was my subject matter softened my impatience toward his interruptions.
“What are you writing about us?”
I was conflicted. The constant battle to create time for myself to write was again being lost due to more questions from my children; yet, I felt I was in some way betraying his trust if I ignored his answer. He was, after all, the focus of my writing.
“I’m writing about how much easier if would be to be a daddy if I could read your mind.”
“Ha! That’s funny! Like, now you would know that I wanted a snack, and wanted to watch a movie, and wanted, like, a million dollars?!”
“Exactly. Now, sweetie, I really have to finish this.”
Ignoring me, as he often does when he has more to say, he asked another question: “Daddy, can I start a blog?”
Instinctively, I said no.
“Why?” he pushed.
Why? Why didn’t I want him starting his own blog? What harm could come from letting him share stories of play dates and piano lessons with whomever was interesting in reading them?
I recognized my own personality as being partially responsible for my reluctance. I have a tendency to initially say ‘no’ to many suggestions which would require extra effort; partially as a buffer while I digest how I really feel about the idea, mostly to resist any additional responsibilities added to the already busy schedule of a working parent who’s fighting for time to themselves.
I was also mindful of shielding him from the ugliness which lurks on the web.
He’s reading well on his own now. If he began blogging he will inevitably be introduced to those trolls under the bridge who have migrated from Brothers’ Grimm story books to the comment sections on blog sites.
Would blogging expose a confident 7-year-old to online bullies?
There are tens of thousands of parenting bloggers online. Thousands of them write freely about their children. They use their real names, share family photos daily, and even reveal details about which neighborhoods they live in and which schools they attend.
I’ve consciously resisted sharing my children’s personal information.
Why? Are my fears real? Do I have too high an opinion of myself – assuming they would be flooded with negative attention if they’re names or faces were published on my little site?
Why not let him blog?
It will encourage computer skills, literacy, and creativity. Besides, I would be the one doing the typing – total content control. The risk was infinitesimal.
Two days later, his first post went out.
He uses a pseudonym. I made sure the image url’s don’t link back to my site. He doesn’t use a recognizable profile picture. I won’t let him use my name, nor my wife’s, nor his sister’s. I taught him to generalize place names: “my school” for instance, without mentioning specifics. He writes about his piano concert with out revealing a time or place.
You’ll notice there’s no mention of his site in this post.
Am I being overprotective and paranoid?
But, I treat it as a numbers game: how important is it for people to identify the author vs. how regretful would I be were he victimized due to publicity?
But it’s a compromise which satisfies us both, an reinforces the important lesson about what can be crawling around the World Wide Web.
Ultimately, he rarely remembers his blog even exists, so his site remains largely ignored – which is fine with me.
Every so often, it will occur to us the day’s events might make for an interested post.
When that happens, we sit together after supper and I type about his day as he dictates while he leans on me.
During those twenty minutes, the weight of his head on my shoulder suddenly doesn’t seem so heavy.