“How old will I need to be before I can read your blog?” she asks me. We’re laying on her bed; she is pajama-ed and snuggled under the covers, I am next to her but on top of the blankets. I stroke her hair and she fiddles with a loose thread on my sleeve.
“I’m not sure,” I respond, slowly. I have to be careful. Right now all I know is that the right age is “not yet.” But if I give her a number, come hell or high water she will march up on her birthday and demand access. I guess I’m hoping this is one of those “I’ll know it when I see it” kinds of things. “Older,” I finally conclude. It feels lame. She affirms my ineptitude by pulling a face.
“I know OLDER,” she says, rolling her eyes. “But how old? You must swear a lot on there, to not want us reading it.” She sounds vaguely envious, and I squelch a chuckle.
“It’s not because I swear,” I tell her, thinking about how she busts out with “OOOOOH! YOU SAID A MODERATELY BAD WORD!” whenever I drop a “damn” or “hell” in her presence. “It’s because… it’s for grown-ups.”
“But it’s about US,” she protests.
“Some,” I agree. “But not entirely.”
Her forehead creases as she considers this; she is clearly imagining what that might mean. Obviously I am beating around the bush, and my blog is a place where I use the word “fuck” with abandon, inbetween stories about her and her brother, and probably while describing sexual positions and telling y’all about that time I did something REALLY REALLY naughty, like wear a shirt that showed my “boob crack.” (Cleavage is not an acceptable word to an 11-year-old, I’ve learned.) I realize I need to nip this sense of “forbidden fruit” in the bud, and now.
“It’s about all sorts of things. It’s about you guys, yes, but it’s also about me. It’s about life. And grown-up life is sometimes about grown-up things, like being worried or wondering about stuff kids don’t need to think about. It’s a story about my life, and I hope that someday when you’re old enough you’ll still want to read it. It’ll tell you about YOU and it’ll tell you about ME and I hope it will show you more about US, as a family. But it’s not time for any of that, yet. Right now you need to be busy just LIVING your life, not reading about it.”
This seems to make sense to her, and she sinks into her pillow a bit.
“Mom,” she says, not meeting my eyes, “Dad thinks you’re happy all the time now, because you’re married again. Is that what you write about? Being happy?”
I chuckle. “Sometimes,” I say. “I don’t know that I’m happy ALL the time. I don’t know if ANYONE is happy ALL the time. I am happy most of the time, and I’m happy being married to Otto, but there’s more to it than that.” She nods, thinking. “And do you know what?” I add, trying to keep my voice very light. “I think that we all make our own happiness. I’m not happy because I’m married; I’m happy because I choose to be happy. I’m happy because I feel very fortunate to have what I do. And Otto and I are happy because we work really hard at it.”
“You do?” She thinks this is a joke she doesn’t get.
“Absolutely! Relationships are hard work. We’re happy BECAUSE we know that and we work at it. I’m sorry Daddy and I couldn’t work things out, but I learned a lot from my relationship with him. Things that have helped me, moving forward, in my relationship with Otto. I’m sure Daddy learned things that will help him someday when he gets married again, too.” She nods a little. “But, see, I write about that stuff sometimes, and that’s kind of boring for a kid, I think.”
She thinks for a minute. “By the time I’m old enough to read your blog, there’s going to be tons and tons of stuff to read. How will I ever read it all? Will it still even be there?”
“It will still be there, and if you want, you can read it all. And if you don’t want to, you can just read the parts that interest you. Maybe you’ll just want to read about YOU. Maybe you’ll want to skip the mushy posts about Otto.” She pretends to gag and I tickle her until she squeals.
“Some of the posts about me are really short,” she says. “Like that time you wrote about me kicking your seat in the car. I could read those pretty fast.” I nod in agreement. “And I bet sometimes you write about when you’re upset with me, too.” She’s peering at my face, gauging my reaction.
“Yep, I do,” I tell her. “All sorts of stuff. That you’ll someday read. I hope you will. And I think you’ll like it.” I sweep her up into a hug. “You are turning into a young woman that most of the time I really, really, really LIKE. And that is awesome! I don’t know how not to write about it. But right now you need to go to sleep.”
She smiles at me. “I think I’ll like reading it,” she says. “Later. When I’m older.”
“Okay, darlin’,” I say. “Time for bed!”
“But WAIT,” she calls, grabbing my wrist as I try to get up off the bed. “This was all very SERIOUS and stuff. I can’t go to sleep after THAT. We need some funny. Hmmm. Let me think. Oh! I know! LOOKIT MY BOOBIES!” She juts out her chest and we collapse on each other in fits of giggles. Because boobs are funny. Obviously.
I think she’ll like it. I hope she does.