“Take it down,” my 12-year-old told me emphatically when I entered the TV room where my family gathered to watch an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game last week. Prior to the game, I had taken an adorable picture of him and his 9-year-old sister, linking arms, decked out from head to toe in their favorite team’s attire.
The picture was “likable.” It was fun, happy, and symbolic of our family’s love for my husband’s alma mater and the university that my oldest daughter’s currently attends. It was a must-share. Therefore, I captioned with, “We’re ready! Go BLUE,” and did what so many of us proud, kvelling Jewish mothers do–I posted the photo to Facebook.
“Take it down,” my younger son told me again, as I semi-pretended not to hear him. “But people have already liked it and commented on it,” I responded, realizing I was pleading with him. “Mom, please do not post pictures of me without asking,” he said with annoyance. My youngest daughter chimed in, “Yeah, mom, same goes for me!”
I bowed my head, slowly pushed the Facebook app on my phone, and with a sense of loss mixed with a bit of shame, I did as they asked. I felt, in some strange way, that by deleting the photo, I was righting some kind of wrong I had committed. But then I asked myself when posting pictures of my kids on Facebook began to feel wrong?
It began at that very moment–the moment they told me not to do so.
Making that photo disappear from my Facebook page marked an end of an era for me–the era during which I was in charge of deciding whether or not a photo of my younger kids was Facebook share-worthy (my two teens put the kibosh on this years ago). Crossing over to the new era now means that no matter how cute, relatable, funny, menschy or ironic I find a picture of my kids to be, they will now be a part the process that determines whether or not their photo will be shared on my Facebook page. I felt a tinge of sadness in knowing that the majority of their future directives will most like be, “Do not share.”
As I recovered from the initial sting of the “take it down” request, and the finality of its message, I realized that there is no shame in wanting to share pictures of my kids. However, as my kids drew the line in the sand, and asserted themselves to define their own boundaries, I knew that we had reached a crossroad. This was a right of passage for them and a wake up call for me. It forced me to examine my desire to post pictures of my kids, and to take notice of how it feels to no longer be at liberty to do so. As much joy as I found in sharing photos of my kids with my Facebook friends, and as thoughtful as I have been about the frequency and nature of these photos, my kids basically told me that my approach to Facebook, as it relates to them, needed to change. And I, most certainly will respect their wishes.
I only hope that my kids continue to feel comfortable with me blogging about them and all the valuable lessons I learn through mothering them. That would be a much more difficult change to make.