My maternal instinct is switched to overdrive, which makes me a sucker for admiring kids. I've recently found myself getting sentimental and mushy over kids in TV ads and YouTube videos, and thanks to the volume control and off button I can tune out anytime.
But there's something about the kind of videos I'm seeing in my Facebook feed that's making it more and more uncomfortable for me to click. I'm talking about the videos that invite me (and the general public) into an area of a child's life that I'm pretty sure was intended to be a moment between parent and child.
It's the parent-child chats, the life lessons when a child is being shown right from wrong, being disciplined, being scolded or being cuddled or lectured. It's the kid dancing in front of a camera or crying or shouting or getting a surprise or having a tantrum. Sometimes it's funny, often it's poignant and it's the kind of thing that kids and parents have been doing for generations and across all nations -- but now there are inviting strangers in to watch and share.
I understand the awe and wonder of watching a child grow and learn, but I can't understand the leap that goes from watching or interacting with your kids to racing to get the camera so that everyone else can watch as well.
As the mother of a 14-year-old son, I appreciate wanting the whole world to know how wonderful your child is, it's something I think about often, both as a mother and as a writer, because there are so many things that come up in our day-to-day activities that I want to speak about, that I want to work out, that I want to explore.
But I am becoming more and more aware that my son's story and the lessons I learn through him are not solely mine to tell. He is a human being in his own right and, just maybe, he doesn't want his personal moments played out in someone else's lounge room.
I don't believe there is a huge security risk in putting videos of kids online, but I think that privacy is just as important as security and clearly online there is none of that. Our kids might be young and entertaining but that doesn't mean they're not deserving of privacy -- and the respect to live and learn their lessons away from the eyes of strangers.
While so much about parenting is universal, there is also much about our kids that is unique to them. Do you remember being a kid? Isn't it weird to think how you are still that same person now but with lessons learned and experiences gained? Imagine your mum was telling that story. Imagine she hadn't stopped?
Some day our little kids will be adults who will fashion their own lives and grow to tell their own stories. Wouldn't it be great to let them grow up and do that rather than having to grow up living the narrative the internet has created?
As much as my maternal instinct loves to watch cute kids, I'm trying to draw myself away from the habit of peering into the life of someone who hasn't had the opportunity (or capacity) to invite me in.