The fourth wall
By Kissy Dugan*
write a column about parenting — this is true. But I do not write about what a parent should do. I am no Tiger mom. In fact, I am more of a total pussy. Cat. Mom. Pussy-cat-mom.
I write about my experience as a mother. And I like to keep it light and fun. I am like a literary marshmallow fluff. Only lately my experience as a parent has been anything but fluffy.
I write from my POV (point of view) and try to keep my kids out of it. For starters I don't want my writing to turn in to some mindless journal where I constantly tort, "Oh Junior said the darndest thing the other day!" More importantly, I don't want to blast my kids' lives all over the inter-web for everyone to gobble up. Their lives are their own.
I remember a time when I had to ask "permission" to email pictures of my nieces and nephews because my sisters weren't "sure about how secure this whole Internet thing was." My sisters were convinced that lurking pedophiles hacked through every personal email account in the New York tri-state area. This was before blogging and Facebooking were gerunds and when tweeting was for the birds.
Last week, one of my Facebook Friends changed her status to "single" and out came a slew of comments about the complexities of indiscretion and romance. They were inappropriate and personal. My "friend" is 11. Years old.
Today's youth take uber-personal experiences and spread them over the electronic globe like chum bait being strewn through cold waters to attract sharks. We (big kids, too) now put everything out there to create a feeding frenzy. Privacy is public. Intimacy has an audience. I feel like all these kids are breaking the fourth wall. I didn't want my parents and their generation to know what I was up to, whether good or bad. Why do they?
Before I rant any further, I have to rat out my husband. He plasters photos of my kids all over his social networking site and tags me as well for our combined 900 and some odd friends to see. But here's the thing... we actually know these people. And we came from a generation where we learned how to walk in to a room, look a person in the eye, shake his hand and make a human connection.
(P.S. I am not saying that freedom of expression is not fundamentally important. It is. But can't kids just write poems on the bathroom stalls? Or participate in summer stock?)
I'm not down with this electronic etiquette for kids. I know I sound like some old fogey, but I still consider social skills as more important to advancing our society than social networking.
All that said and done, and while trying to keep my son's life private, it feels disingenuous not to write about what I have been going through with Oedipus (not his real name).
For several months, it's been clear that my firstborn is experiencing developmental delays. This may sound vague — because it still is. His speech, behaviors and motor skills are all lacking. We've been trying to pinpoint a problem and, more importantly, find a solution. I've spent the last 90 days investigating, advocating, hypothesizing and theorizing. I have called eight doctors in three countries. I have dragged him to appointments for eyes, ears, allergies and his brain. I have kept journals, changed diets and smothered him with attention and affection. I have consumed myself with making him healthy and whole. I have done what any mother would do: everything.
I also kept it to myself. While it took all my time, I shared very little with friends and "friends." I didn't update my status or tweet. I didn't hire a publicist or a web designer because this isn't my story to tell. It's my son's. And as his mother, I hope his story has a fantastic and fluffy ending.
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