About the Missing Nicknames

The question was posted in a comment: “I’ve just noticed that you’ve stopped using the children’s code names (Patch, Gleek, Link, Kiki). Deliberate decision as no longer appropriate, or just a change in writing style?”

I posted a short answer in response, but decided that a longer answer was merited.

As my kids have entered their teen and adult years, their stories have started being more their own and less mine to tell. Details that are merely entertaining when told about young children become betrayals of trust when told about a teenager. My teens tell me things that they don’t share with the world at large. They depend on me to hold these things in confidence, and I try to. This means that sometimes I begin to write a blog post and part way through I hit a point where I wonder if the story is fully mine to share, if it will do damage to the person in my house who is searching for identity and direction. The well being of my children comes before the telling of the story. Always.

But this is a hard thing because, while the stories belong to the children, there are portions of them that are uniquely mine. I would like to delve into my thoughts about dealing with some of the challenges my kids have presented me. Yet if I try to tell my portion without their portion the story becomes so vague that it looses value and coherence. All of this has been happening for years now, and before I was consciously aware of it, I stopped using the nicknames as much. Not naming the person added a layer of anonymity which allowed me to tell some stories which I couldn’t otherwise tell. Other stories sit untold because they can’t be anonymized.

Once I became consciously aware of the shift, I decided it was a good thing. My children live in a world full of social media. Having their mother’s stories about them easily searchable by a single term (their nickname) seems not-so-wise during the potentially perilous waters of high school.

And then there is the fact that the nicknames fit the children they were, but aren’t good matches for the teens and adults that they’ve become. Three out of four have chosen their own online handles that bear very little resemblance to the nicknames I bestowed when they were 8, 6, 3, & 1.

Some of the stories that I hold in confidence, I will be able to tell late once the kids have grown far enough past a particular challenge that the telling of it isn’t threatening or embarrassing anymore. I’ve taken notes. There are dozens of partially written blog posts that I may get to finish one day. I would like to. I would like to tell the stories so that some other person who struggles with these things will at least know that they are not alone. I would like to tell them because writing these things as a story helps me define them and comprehend what happened.

Until the day when I can tell more of the stories, I have to muddle through and find ways to write that explore my thoughts and don’t betray confidences.