Sunday, November 29, 2009

I actually got out of bed to write this post because I love you THAT MUCH

A couple weeks ago, my friend called one evening, and Mr. WG answered the phone. I heard her ask if I could go out that evening, and I heard Mr. WG say, "Oh, I really hope she doesn't go anywhere." Whereupon I decided that NO MATTER WHAT I was being invited to -- I mean, even if my friend was calling to ask me to help her scrub vomit off her bathroom tile -- I was going.

Fortunately, there would be no cleansing of bodily fluids. Rather, she was calling to ask if I wanted to go to hear an author speak at the JCC book fair.

"The JCC is having a book fair?"

I am nothing if not hip to cultural events.

Anyway, yes, the JCC was having a book fair, and some authors were speaking, and there were two scheduled for the evening, one at 7:30 and one at 8. I chose the 7:30 one, because (1) it would get me out of the house sooner and (2) the price listed, $15, included the book.

My friend and I arrived and found out that we just made the 21-35 age cutoff, and for $5, we could just hear the author speak and then come back and buy the book later if we wanted to. That sounded pretty good, because I am, well, cheap, and why BUY a book that I can read for free from the library, which is perhaps not the best attitude for a, you know, WRITER, but whatevs.

So, we sat down in our chairs, and my friend immediately got up to go the bathroom before the talk started, and while she was gone, I looked around the room, and when she came back, I leaned over and whispered, "I think this is a singles event!" She looked around and looked at me and we knew. The age limit started to make sense. As did the overload of perfume and tight tops.

But we had paid, and we were going to get our money's worth. So, the author. Hal Niedzviecki started to talk, and he is FUNNY. And smart. And his book is called The Peep Diaries and you should read it, because it is really good.

Hal (we're going to be on a first name basis because there is NO WAY I can pronounce his last name) writes about "How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors " -- that's actually the subtitle of his book. So he writes about, in part, bloggers who put themselves out there, why we do it, why other people read it, and so on.

So, he spoke, and then he took questions, and then he went to go sign books and stuff. And so my friend and I grabbed a quiet couch and sat and talked, and she asked me what I would have asked, since there wasn't time for all the questions and mine went unasked. I told her.

My question is what Hal thinks of parents who blog about their kids. Parents like, you know, ME. Parents who put their kids stories out there in the world and take the choice away from the children. Is it OK?

I told my friend that this is a question I wrestle with frequently, this telling of D's story. But ultimately, obviously, I choose to do it, partly because if I didn't, I wouldn't actually be able to be D's mother.

Now, if I had actually read the book, I would have known exactly what Hal thinks: Hal thinks that sucks. He HATES it when parents put their kids' lives online without giving the kids a say. And my friend and I actually did go into the main book fair room and catch up with Hal, and I asked him that then, and he pretty much said that.

So my friend -- because she's a psychologist -- starts trying to smooth over his answer, at which point Hal realizes that I AM ONE OF THOSE PARENTS, and HE tries to backtrack a little, "Well, you know, if you're putting pictures of little Moshe up there taking his first steps--" which was amusing in its own right, of course, but I didn't take the time then, at that moment, at that meeting, to explain my blog and myself.

This means, of course, that I've spent the last few weeks wondering what Hal would actually think of my blog. Is it OK, what I do? I constantly seek reassurance that it is, because I do feel, on some level, that it violates my son's privacy. But, it comes back to what I've said before: I have to do this.

I have to do it because when people in your everyday, real life pass you in carpool line and say, "Hey, how are you?" the correct answer is, "Fine, thanks!" They don't want to hear what you are actually thinking and feeling and how close you are to just getting in your car and driving...away.

I have to do it because people who should know better say stupid things. And even if they say them with the best of intentions and from a place of love, they sting. And I prefer to maintain at least the semblance of normal relationships with my family and the few friends I've managed not to alienate, so I can't tell them, "Hey, Asshole! SHUT UP." So I blog.

So, friends, if you know Hal, ask him what he thinks. I'm genuinely interested and would love to hear it. And, of course, I'm interested in your takes, too. Is there something inherently awful about what I'm doing?

P.S. Even though I checked the book out from the library, I did buy a copy of it for my brother for his birthday.


moplans said...

I completely agree that we all need a space to vent.
I am also biased because I find it really helpful to read your thoughts about D and the challenges of raising a child with special needs.
I do know parents who I think write about their children in a way is not always appropriate. It always seems like they are doing it to get attention, rather than reflecting on their own journey.

Anonymous said...

I think you write less about your son and more about being your son's mother. Big difference. You have done a great service to readers by letting us know about Soto's Syndrome, but a greater service in letting us know what it is like to raise a child with special needs--and that not all special needs are the same. It is good for people to hear that one can love their child completely and deeply, and still think the situation sucks. And those of us in the trenches, we do need an outlet (perhaps you have heard me screaming all the way from Chicago).

Kelly Rose Hirt said...

I was sent your blog link from a friend of a friend who knew my daughter had sotos syndrome. I like reading because I love to say ' iknow exactly what she means'. I think most people start a family blog for friends and family who are not around, and if you write good and have something more to say than 'today we went to the zoo' (which is what I do)then your blog gets sent from people to people. I do agree that your blog is the experience of being a mother to a special needs son, and not 'hey look my son has sotos and this is how he is'. I guess I look at it as if you were telling a friend these same situations over a cup of coffee!!