In the mayhem of school morning get ready time., Sophie looks at me and declares, “Mommy, I am bringing my diary to school to share with Abby.” My instant reaction, accompanied by a finger wagging, neck pop and lock is, “Oh no you are not. That is your private diary. That should not leave the house.” Sophie tosses back, “Relax Mooooom. I am just sharing with Abby and she is my friend. She’s bringing hers too – she will be disappointed if I don’t bring it.” We were at a standstill. Sophie wanted to bring her diary and I was adamant in my position that diaries do not belong in school, mainly because, “It could get into the wrong hands. People can be mean. They will read it and make fun of you and use it against you.”
If we were being filmed for observation by a wildlife documentary show, this is the point where David Attenborough would whisper, “In her zeal for protection, notice how the mother bear defends her position and tries to maintain her dominance. Unfortunately she is oblivious to her young cub’s attempt to assert her new burgeoning independence. Let’s watch and see what happens.”
All I wanted to do for Sophie was use this as a ‘teachable moment”. I wanted her to understand how special a private diary is to a person. How happy I was for her that she wrote down her thoughts , and BFF’s and BFFFL and lingo third grade girls use to express themselves. I also wanted to prevent any of this private information from getting out into the general school public. I wanted to protect her from something that could happen.
This is where my position that morning went awry. I was the one that needed a teachable moment, the one that says I cannot prevent bad things from happening to my girls, and the embarrassments that happened to me as a kid won’t necessarily happen to Sophie and Katie. I needed to remember that in certain situations, I cannot tell Sophie what to do. I have to learn how to trust her to make up her mind. She could get burned sometimes. That’s life. I can’t prevent bad things from happening to her.
As she stood in front of me -defiantly respectful - Sophie lays this final push on me, “It’s my body and my diary. I can make decisions about my body and nobody knows my body better than me. That’s what you tell me.”
The standstill was broken and she brought her diary to school. Nothing happened. No one stole it and announced her eight year old crushes on the loudspeaker at school. Her friend didn’t whisper about her behind her back. But now she knows that bringing her diary to school is not allowed.