The Big Eight

Last month, Dante turned eight years old. I’ve been writing this blog since he was two months old. Sitting down to write a post about his eighth birthday got me thinking about the blog itself.

I first started writing this thing for a few reasons. First, I wanted an easier way to communicate with people. I’d told the story of Dante’s rather difficult and traumatic birth (and my rather difficult and traumatic adjustment) via a series of emails to friends and family. But this was an awkward mode, and I’d regularly have to send out the growing bundle of emails to somebody new who wanted the story. Finally, I decided that rather than try to figure out who to send the stories to, I’d just put them out there and let anyone who was interested find them.

Second, I wanted a chronicle of Dante’s childhood. I knew that having a blog would motivate me to record and therefore remember things that otherwise would sink beneath the constant tide of incoming events.

Finally, I found the process of recording my parenthood experience quite theraputic. Like I said, the first part of Dante’s life was surprisingly difficult for me, and it helped me enormously to maintain a connection with the world outside my house, not to mention the simple relief of crystallizing chaotic thoughts into language. I decided to write some of the entries from Dante’s point of view, which let me have fun and be a parent at the same time, a rare experience in those early days.

The blog succeeded on all counts. On the first count, it’s still succeeding. On the other two, I’m getting a little less sure. When Dante was a baby, I could write from his point of view, because why not? It wasn’t like he could express himself, and besides, it helped me relate to him by imagining his experience. After a while, he could speak quite clearly for himself, and I cut out the puppet thing. Now he’s becoming more and more of an independent person, and it’s feeling less appropriate to blog on his behalf, even if I’m no longer using his voice.

As he enters more and more into the business of the world, he accumulates a sense of privacy, or rather I accumulate one in relation to him. I don’t mind choosing what information about my baby goes on the Internet, but I’m starting to feel that my eight-year-old should decide that for himself. He’ll have plenty of those decisions to make, after all, and I’d like him to have a sense of what it means from the beginning.

At the same time, this blog is about me too, perhaps increasingly so. I’ve really valued the sense of community connection that it’s given me, and I’ve gotten helpful feedback from its readers through the years. I’d hate to lose that. In addition, I’ve heard from a variety of people saying that they find the blog valuable in staying connected to Dante and our family. I wouldn’t want to lose that either.

I’m not really sure what the right path is with all this. However, as usual the process of writing it all down has at least clarified things a little.

So here’s what I’m going to try. I’ll continue to blog publicly about Dante’s exciting exploits and adventures in the world, but I’ll clear it with him first each time before doing so. I’ll also talk from time to time about what I’m experiencing as a parent, but those posts will no longer be public. WordPress has a password-protection feature which I’ll use to hide those posts from the Internet at large. If I know you, contact me by email and I’ll be happy to give you the password, but I’ll no longer be ruminating to the world in much depth about the experience of raising our little mixed-up ball of genius.


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