The Stories We Don’t Tell

I tend to be fairly forthcoming and open on this site.  In fact, I am often revealing far more than is comfortable or advisable, at least according to my wife and the internet.  I share stories about my life, and my thoughts on the world as it affects and applies to my children, and my career, which I define as “general musician.”  But I don’t live in a vacuum, and so quite often my stories involve interactions with other humans.  Oftentimes these humans in my tales are the very humans with whom I live, and what I say about them has a potential impact on how they may come to be viewed by the world.  So how can I tell which stories to share, and which to keep to myself?

Growing up is hard.  There is a reason we groan when parents bring out the baby pictures to show our prom dates.  Just as you wouldn’t want people to see you getting groomed and dressed for the big date, and you wouldn’t want people to hear all of your mistakes and rehearsals before the big concert, we don’t want all of our growing pains on display to the world from all of those times when we were “under construction.”

I think it’s safe to say that we all make mistakes and have bad days, but the mistakes we make when we are working with a very limited knowledge of the world are different somehow.  In some ways they are more excusable, aren’t they?  Humans go through some standard phases of development, so we can talk about “the terrible twos” with the knowledge that most other two-year-olds are going through something similar.  But at the same time, people are quick to judge.  I have had people call my son a bully for exhibiting “typical three-year-old behavior,” despite the fact that he won the friendship award for being helpful and friendly at his school.  Which stories were heard in those situations?  Which ones are the truth?  I myself like to think of myself as a helpful and giving person, but I know very well that there are times I am selfish and even mean.  What would happen if, every time I acted poorly, someone wrote about it and put it onto the internet?  Because those are generally the stories I don’t tell about myself.  Maybe I should.

This morning my son was on a bit of a rampage.  Typical four-year-old behavior?  I don’t know.  But yesterday we had a great afternoon, playing and laughing together.  Which story is more interesting?  Will people realize, when they read the stories about the destruction, that most of the time he is a good kid?  Will his future potential employers scour the internet, looking for a story of how he hit his sister one time?  I mean, I hit my sister one time too.  Or, you know, many times.  Is that a good reason for me not to get a job?  What is my responsibility as a parent, in terms of safeguarding the information that gets out about my children.  Is it up to me to tell their stories?  Or is it up to them?

For now, I am going to continue to walk that fine line, posting what I feel is appropriate and hilarious, but at the same time considering how the information might be used by others.  I love my children, and I want everyone to know how awesome and funny and creative they are, even when that creativity involves some creative mayhem.  But I also want to protect them as they begin to navigate the social world.  So I am not going to provide details of the inventive demolition that occurred this morning, just in case someone, someday, holds it against him.  Instead I will tell you that he is full of energy, vibrant, exciting, and the kind of person who makes things happen.  The details will be one of those stories we don’t tell.

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Posted in Bad Parenting, Blogging, Edward, Growing Up, Parenting, Society.

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: A Child’s Reaction to the First Snow of Winter | Tenor Dad

  2. Well put, Tenordad. I have seen many bloggers tell stories that sort of made me wince or cringe or even shudder thinking about what their child might say of it in the future. You aren’t one of them… Actually, I love what you are doing here.

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