May 03, 2004

writing about him

I recently read on someone’s blog somewhere (forgive me but this heat saps my memory) that she hesitates to post about her kids, that it’s not fair to them. Someone said the same thing at the LA Book Fair last week, that our parents are fair game for our writing. Our friends too. But not our children. I’ve heard it before. In fact, Karen Meisner, one of my very favorite journallers ever, folded up shop in part because her son got old enough to have stories about him feel more specific and intimate. She drew that veil shut.

I understand this. How can I not? And I have twinges of doubt myself. Is Damian’s life story mine to write? But it’s my life too. As it happens, there’s been a lot of it to tell in the past few years, and I know (because they’ve told me) that our story has helped numerous other parents in the same situation. But does their benefit outweigh his potential discomfort? How can I make that call? I’ve always wondered what he'd make of Hidden Laughter as well as the snippets of his cleverness I post here. Would/will he hate me for it? Would/will he enjoy it?

Tonight I got a chance to find out, though in a sideways sort of fashion. It was at dinner, a makeshift affair at Damian’s play table (he’s currently got the only air conditioning in the house, a pathetic little window unit), and I was telling Dan about the book I’m currently reading. Damian piped up:

“You like reading books, so you should write one. And if it’s good you should send it to an agent and if it’s bad then you can throw it away.”

“Okay, Damian, I’ll do that. Hey, what if I wrote a book about you?”

His smile was an immediate answer, but I thought I should clarify for the sake of this experiment. “What if I was writing about being your mommy? Would you like that?”

His verdict: “That would be a good book and you wouldn’t have to reread it after you write it because you’d know it was good.”

He’s got a point. Also a healthy ego. It stands to reason; if there's anything I can say with certainty about my child, it's that he loves the limelight.

I’m feeling more comfortable in my decision to tell these stories from his life.

Posted by Tamar at May 3, 2004 08:45 PM