I just broke one of my hard and fast parenting rules.
And right now, I’m really glad I did.
I swore I wouldn’t do it.
I promised that I knew better and it was for the best.
I lectured about my reasons.
I endured the begging and pleading.
I deflected and debated and explained and … parented.
I stood my ground and repeatedly said,
No. Absolutely not. You may not have a social media account of your own.
You. Are. Too. Young.
I swore that I would be the hold out. The one who didn’t follow the crowd and give into the pressure of the dreaded EEIDIS. Otherwise known as “Everybody Else Is Doing It” Syndrome.
Because I do know better. As a bullying prevention trainer, I know the pitfalls and dangers of social media. I know how mean people can be and how things can get out of hand quickly. Unkind words. Unkind pictures. Unkind comments. Leading to sadness all around.
So, no. No Instagram. No twitter. No facebook. Absolutely no snapchat.
Yesterday, I helped my girl sign up for an account of her own.
Ack! What happened? Why did I do this? Why did I give in and let her out into …
cyberspace–the final frontier. These are the voyages of my pre-tween.
My mission: to help her explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no amazing girl of mine has gone before.
I’m not even a fan of Star Trek. All I can say is, it just happened. I decided that if she asked again, I would relent. I would let her try this thing, this life-thing and all-of-its-life-decisions-thing.
And then she did, she asked. And so I did.
I laid out the non-negotiables, the username and password, the parameters, the absolutes and implied consequences and she agreed. With an excited smile holding back a giggle and a twinkle in her eye that left me in a bit of a time warp, questioning whether she was 3 or 13, she agreed.
I helped her sign up for an account of her own. I did that. I broke my own parenting rule.
But then I did what any good, self-respecting, trusting, believing Mother of a young New Instagrammer would do.
I stalked her.
Yep. All day long, I stalked her activity in this space.
Not in a weird, sneaky way. No. I told her I’m more of a wide open, I am your first follower and first one following you, kind of Mom.
I am right there. And trust me, we already had the talk that said, “Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want me to see on a billboard beside Interstate 81, Ok?!”
And then, something happened. Something I didn’t expect. Something that surprised and amazed me.
I watched. As my girl started sharing pictures that she was taking of the most unusual things around our house. The most regular and unremarkable things and she was turning them into phenomenal works of art. Her pictures were all of just mundane things that I don’t even notice during the day. Certainly never recognizing that they had any beauty before.
Things like: Our hallway rug.
The seagrass through a screen outside our living room window.
A tree in our yard.
Just random. Beautiful images of her life. Of her surroundings.
And all of a sudden. I realized. That I was getting to see how she sees the world. In her own way. In her own pictures. Even in her own words, as I read a caption she added to the simple tree picture:
Wait. What? I’m sorry, but when did that happen? When did she become all metaphorical with that “Life Is Like A Tree” business, waxing all philosophical and being all sage-y sounding? And what does she know of winter and tough battles?! Who is this child?!
Wasn’t she just four and showing the neighbor friends how she could ride her bike without training wheels yesterday? Where did that come from?
And this is when I realized that I was right. I was actually right to break my own rule. What an incredible present I was handed today. Being able to see how my girl sees the world. Being given a window to how she observes and what she notices.
Being gifted with a front row seat into how she makes sense of this great big beyond world around her.
I’m glad I broke my own parenting rule. Of course, I will keep reminding and guiding and prompting and adulting … and redirecting and teaching and explaining and … parenting.
And we will take this new frontier one day at a time, my girl and I, together. Learning as we go.
But for today, I’m glad I broke my own parenting rule. Because I was able to see that all that parenting and adulting that I have been doing for the past many years, has had an impact. And I am trusting. Trusting that she will be measured not by my rules, but by the way she sees and interprets and shares her world.
And I’m along for the (ever watching, always be there, loving her every step of the way) ride.
So, let’s all take a deep breath, Mommas. And say a quick prayer for our young ones.
Engage each day with action words to make good things happen. Doing the best we can.
Let’s all, Go. Do that.