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Saturday
Oct312015

1 Second Everyday | Kaufmans in September 2015

Via the 1 Second Everyday App. (Everyday is spelled that way purposefully, as explained by the app here.) Check it out!

Because of C's retirement from social media, her video is now private.

Tuesday
Oct272015

Why I'm Retiring my Daughter from Social Media

In January 2013, when Cora was 2.5 years old, I wrote for the first time about my desire to retire Cora from social media. As I explained in that post and several posts proceeding, I had been rolling the idea around for awhile, ever since I read about another blogger, Ryan Marshall from Pacing the Panic Room, who planned to stop blogging about his kids as they turned five.

There are other people and other articles out there about parents who are choosing not to have their children be a presence on their blogs, social media, or the internet entirely. In the Ethical Implications of Parents Writing about their Kids, author Phoebe Matlz Bovy details some of the most recent articles and "confession" type writing in the new genre of parental over-sharing. Quoting writer Sarah Kendzior, Bovy makes the case that "[t]he greatest threat to children's privacy online does not come from corporations. It comes from parents."

In a Sept 2013 Slate article, Amy Webb published We Post Nothing About our Daughter Online and went into depth on why she and her husband choose to post not a thing about their daughter on the internet. They ask this of their friends too. They have a "nothing about our kids online" policy and their close friends know and understand their reasons. While Webb's main reasons focus on why she and her husband are trying to avoid facial recognition, Facebook profiling, and corporate data mining, she also touches on the idea of parental overshare and its potential negative affects.

It’s hard enough to get through puberty. Why make hundreds of embarrassing, searchable photos freely available to her prospective homecoming dates? If Kate’s mother writes about a negative parenting experience, could that affect her ability to get into a good college? We know that admissions counselors review Facebook profiles and a host of other websites and networks in order to make their decisions.

I can relate to the arguments asserted by Webb and Malz Bovy and herein I add my own considerations:

Cora's Childhood is her Own

From her birth until she turned five, I participated in the 'sharenting' that so many of my Gen X peers love to do on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. From even before her birth, I had images of her ultrasounds, and then her birth, smack dab on my blog, this blog. There are videos of her crying, singing, sailing, paddleboarding, swimming, and her very first zombie-crawl.

I've now drawn a line in the sand, and I realize this line is completely arbitrary. I picked five because so many children start kindergarten at five, but really, there is no rule book for this. At some point children should be allowed to control their own life story, including the narrative of their youth.

If I write about and document every memorable, (and non-memorable) moment of her life, I feel as if I will mute her own interpretation of her childhood. I also take away the opportunity for Cora to share moments of her youth when she wants to. When Cora is 13, 23, 33, or 43+, and wants to share her memories of her first lost tooth, her kindergarten crush, the time she fell off a slide and broke her arm, really any memory from her OWN life, I don't want her to have to write it as a comparison to my interpretation of those events.

I know people my age enjoy Throw-back Thursdays (#TBT) on Facebook because they get to share hilarious images of the past when they were gangly and awkward or when they are finally able to laugh at their old mullets. Parents who share intimate photos of their own children online don't seem to realize that they are taking away this same opportunity for their children. And not just the opportunity for their kids to share the geeky photos from their childhood, they are actually removing their kids' ability to curate their online lives the way their parents can/could. 

My Self Worth is Not Wrapped up in Sharing Things about my Kids

While I LOVE sharing photos of my kids and documenting their growth into incredible human beings online, my self-worth is not validated by doing it. I don't need to to publicize what my kids do and don't do in order to feel like I have something worthwhile to share with the world. I have my own life, thoughts, and feelings. I CAN post pictures that aren't related to my children and I have more to say than commenting on the daily progress of my kids as they grow. In fact, I think my daughters will be better served by being able to look at my social media footprint and what I wrote about and posted that wasn't about them, than if I spend the next 13 years documenting them publicly. Personally, I'd be fascinated to look back at what my parents were posting and talking about on social media as I was growing up. Which leads me to...

I'll Still be Documenting their Lives

People have privately messaged me and asked if I'm going to stop taking photos of the girls when I retire them. And if I'll stop writing about them too. This is crazy-sauce. OF COURSE I'M NOT GOING TO STOP TAKING PHOTOS AND VIDEOS OF MY KIDS. They're the cutest kids in existence! Why would I stop? I'm just not going to be sharing these pics and vids with the whole wide world. I guess this is the 'ole "If you didn't post it on Facebook, did your kid's childhood really happen at all?" argument.

YES. I'm still taking pictures and videos of Cora. I frequently send her emails about what she is doing in life currently and how proud I am of her. I do not make those emails and pictures public. If Cora decides to share these photos and my writings to her one day, she is free to.

Future Education and Employment

The numbers of companies who do social media research on job applicants continues to rise. Do you really want things you post about your children online to potentially interfere with employment opportunities? What about universities who may do the same searches? If your child wants to be a politician or participate in the public sphere, and you've already shared online that one time you came home and caught her/him skipping school and smoking some sweet, sweet, Mary Jane, well, how will your musings as a parent potentially affect their lifelong digital profile or career aspirations?

Security

Never has it been so easy for someone to be found in this world. When I think about all the reasons why I SHOULD protect information about my daughters' whereabouts, it takes only a nanosecond to recognize that not discussing where my child may or may not go to school, where my child may or may not play sports, or where we live and where we frequent on a day-to-day basis can only serve to keep my girls safer. 

The Mean Mom

If retiring my kids from social media is 'old fashioned' or 'mean' or 'selfish,' I've perfectly fine with that. I'd rather my daughter be upset with me for not sharing pictures of that time she got a nose bleed and oh-my-gosh-blood-was-everywhere-lol, then have my online postings about her childhood color her memories or her own voice when it comes to remembering them, or have my postings negatively impact her future life in any way. If that makes me the Mean Mom, then I am SUCH a meanie.

You Don't Need to Know

Ultimately, my child is not here for your entertainment. Every time I have mentioned Cora's upcoming retirement there are people who leave comments like, "but I'll miss hearing all these updates!" and "I REALLY hope you change your mind" or "how will I get my Cora fix?"

I realize these comments are not intentionally possessive or dismissive of my child's right to privacy, but they do exemplify people's implied ownership of shared online content, in this case the content is my children's lives. I greatly appreciate anyone who has responded with "I get it," or, "I very much respect your decision." OR, "This is interesting, can you tell me more about why?"

Not posting about my children online means that my children's lives will be shared with whom they are meant to be shared with, our close friends and family. If you want more of a "Cora fix," then you need to be or become a close friend, and call me old fashioned, but that means making a friendship the old fashioned way, not by 'likes' and picture comments on Facebook.

What Cora's Retirement Means

I have no guidebook for how to effectively retire my kids from social media at age five.

For me:

  1. I will begin referring to Cora online as 'C.'
  2. I will only occasionally post photos and any accompanying commentary about her online on any platform.
  3. C will still appear in our blog and in photos of our lives, because C is still in our lives, what will no longer be present however, is my own narrative or interpretation of her life events. You may see her in glimpses in my 1 Second Everyday (1SE) monthly video clips, though the 1SE I make specifically about C  will now be private and only sent to her for her to share or not share one day as she sees fit.
  4. I will not discuss information about C, including her schooling, her friends, her hobbies, or her location(s).

For my friends and family:

  1. I ask that you do not post photos of C online without my permission, nor tag photos of her as well.
  2. I ask that you call her C online.
  3. I ask that you do not discuss details of C's life, her schooling, her hobbies or her location(s) on social media.
  4. If I email or message you privately with news or photos of C, I ask that you do not reshare those messages.

For Cora:

  1. When we deem C old enough and mature enough to enter the world of social media with her own voice, than we will let her do that and we will guide her and mentor her as she navigates the internet and begins to narrate her digital life.
  2. If C ever decides to pursue acting or a sport or hobby that will garner her a greater social media presence than we had originally planned in her youth, we will cross that bridge if we ever come to it.

For Lyra:

  1. I'll still be blogging and posting about Lyra as I did for Cora until Lyra turns five as well.

The I Don't Care Clause (IDC Clause)

I've learned that no matter what I do in life, there is always someone who disapproves. If you don't like that I'm retiring C, or you find it hypocritical that I shared her life with you for five years and now I'm stopping, please know that I don't care what you think. And please know how creepy it is that you do care

Additionally, my husband is his own person. I do not control him. He knows how I feel and agrees with me on the reason for C's retirement. If he posts differently than I do about our kids, I don't care that this bugs you, oh-weird-person-on-the-internet-who-has-invested-entirely-too-much-time-into-thinking-about-me-and-my-family. Please know going forward that if you are one of the internet commentators who will inevitably say at some point "I THOUGHT YOU WEREN'T TALKING ABOUT C ONLINE, " I will instantly refer you to Clause IDC of this blog post, and to the Rules for Me section where I distinctly state that I still may occasionally post photos of C online.  You creep-a-rific internet weirdo.

Questions | Comments | Like-Minded Individuals

I'd love to hear your questions and comments on Cora's retirement. If you also plan to retire, have retired, or never had your kids enter the digital world, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how it is going for you.

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More on this subject:

Give Your Children a Chance at Privacy, Amy Webb

Be Mindful of Sharing, because Toddlers Grow up, by Stephen Balkam

Learn to Avoid the Traps of 'Sharenting', by James Steyer

How to Raise an Adult, by Julie Lythcott-Haims, Sunday Book Review, NYT

Don't Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say, KJ Dell'Antonia

Why I Decided to Stop Writing about my Children, Elizabeth Bastos

Read This Before Posting Photos of your Kids Online, Quentin Fottrell

Why You Shouldn't Post these 8 Photos of your Kids, Melissa Willets

Why I Don't Talk About my Kids Online, Wellness Mama

Teen Sues Parents Over Potty Training Photos, Jamie Schram

 

Friday
Oct232015

1 Second Everyday | Kaufmans in August 2015

Via the 1 Second Everyday App. (Everyday is spelled that way purposefully, as explained by the app here.) Check it out!

Because of Cora's retirement from social media, her video is now private.

Sunday
Aug092015

Portland with Amanda | A kid-free weekend

It was Amanda's idea and I'm so glad she had it.

This is Amanda:

You may remember her and her starring role as my doula for Lyra's birth in Mexico.

If you don't know that story, it is worth a read here.

"We should go on a getaway without our husbands or are kids. What do you think?" she asked.

I pulled up a tab on Travelocity and asked her when we were leaving.

We had three months from the time we purchased tickets until we finally met up. Amanda said we should challenge ourselves to be able to do 100 push ups a day by the time we met each other in Portland.

DONE.

While we can't do 100 push ups in one go, we are able to do 100 in a day. In fact we both got so good at push ups that we bumped the challenge to 200 a day. Now that was something we really had to work at.

Amanda took a train from Vancouver (and a ferry from Pender Island). I took a non-stop from San Diego.

During the day we walked and walked and walked.

Those dildos in the sky are actually a thing in Portland. More on this "free expression of joy" here.

Amanda is not only a doula, she is a child-birth educator, AND a beekeeper. Naturally then, we followed the huge sign we saw on the sidewalk one day that pointed us toward ------------> MEAD.

Fun fact: Mead does not come from a winery or a brewery. It comes form a meadery, people. It just makes sense.

The thirty minute chocolate tasting at Missionary RX Chocolates finally made me realize how accurate Portlandia is to real life in that city.

Phrases we heard while tasting chocolate heaven:

"The mint comes from a third-generation mint farm just outside the city."

"This is from a local. She extracts the passion fruit flavor from actual plants versus using essential oils."

"If you buy Jacobsen Sea Salts [hand-harvested in Portland] at a retail store though, don't expect the salt to be this spicy. We add a little extra oomph." 

Our host was Jessica of Jessica J Consulting and ladies, if you are looking for a life coach, she comes highly recommended. Jessica lives smack-dab in the city and has a stunning guest room to boot. Amanda and I were so grateful for this kid-free, man-free (no offense to awesome husbands), zenned out zone. 

In the evenings the three of us danced, drank, ate carbs, and reveled in being able to finish whole thoughts and speak in uninterrupted sentences. Sometimes moms need a break. This was a GREAT break.

When three clear-eyed, square-shouldered, gorgeous women walk into a bar or restaurant together you will inevitably get asked what the hell is going down that evening. I liked to smile demurely and respond that we all owned Subarus, but Jessica and Amanda were quick to explain further.

What does give certain women that twinkle in their eye? 

Is it the push ups?

Minimal living?

A PASSIONATE LOVE FOR DARK CHOCOLATE?

(Because all of these things, including the Subaru-ownership is true for all of us.)

You can see the glitter in Bethany's eyes. This is Bethany from s/v Lilo. You may remember her from my Mexico posts, like this one.

And while you can't see their faces directly here, the sparkle is intense in Bethany's daughters' eyes too. That's Hannah on the sax, and Meira holding the music. Meira also plays the cajón, or any convenient Harry Potter book can work as percussion in a pinch too. (Don't believe me? Watch her playing a book in the video below).

Perhaps it is music? We all love music.

I give you our impromptu choral singing on the streets of Portland after brunch one day:

If you haven't guessed my theory yet, the unifying aspect for me is that we are all sailors.

We are female sailors and female sailors are something else. They are women who sing, and dance, and have children. AND they are women that know the sea. They adventure. They are incredibly competent and perceptive. And happy.

Sailing women are a happy, giving bunch. 

If you are a sailing woman, or aspire to be one, join Women Who Sail. It's a fantastic group of supportive female sailors. You'll like it. 

I'd be remiss to not give a shout out to Bryan, Bethany's husband. He was one of the only two gentlemen who hung out with us this weekend and like the ladies present, Bryan's got it too. There is an alertness in sailors' eyes that I see in very few others. He also recorded our singing session, and snapped photos when Amanda and I met Jessica's neighbors and asked them if they'd like to do a bunch of push ups with random strangers (us) right in that very moment.

The neighbors obliged and Bryan documented it. Hey, I've got to get those 200 push ups in any way I can.

Just doing our part to Keep Portland Weird.

Oh, and the other guy we hung out with? He was a hilarious Marine Corps helicopter pilot named Jesse, but don't worry, we weren't being untrue to our men, the handsome pilot was there with his ultra-marathoner date, Alyssa. She was training to run a race that is 8 MARATHONS BACK-TO-BACK.

Yeah, its not just sailors with sparkles in their eyes; it is anyone who is really squeezing the fuck out of life every chance they get.

Okay, maybe a Wonka gif is a bit much, though I'm feeling robust lately, so let's just roll with it.

---------------

Our exploration of the city lasted for several colorful days.

The most rejuvenating part of this trip was Amanda's exuberance about life and the exhilaration of traveling sans family ties. It was just me, my thoughts, my friend, and her wondrousness. And we both could do and explore as we liked. It made me feel nostalgic for the abundant adventures of my twenties  in Europe, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Amanda and I WILL be doing this again, though it'll be another city to conquer when we are ready.

Thanks to Amanda and Jessica. To Bethany, Bryan, Hannah, and Meira. To Yoni at Victory Bar and to that incredible ultra-marathoner, Alyssa, and the Marine Corps pilot, Jesse, for making our trip one for the record books.

We're gonna keep doing push ups every day and now we're adding pull ups to the repertoire. We shall bring our buffness to the next city soon.

PS - if you are in Portland anytime until the 28th of August, I encourage you to go see Claire Willet's play, Dear Galileo. It opened the night we left and has been met with wonderful reviews. I know Claire from an online writer's group and I have to tell you, I'd jump at the chance to see her work, though I hear that her shows are selling out, so go-go-go if you can!

Saturday
Aug012015

1 Second Everyday | Kaufmans in July 2015

Via the 1 Second Everyday App. (Everyday is spelled that way purposefully, as explained by the app here. Check it out!

This is also the last 1SE that will include Cora's videos. I have a blog post coming soon on her official social media retirement.