Tag Archives: child safety

Super Short: How Your Blogging Can Affect Your Kids


I saw on a blog site last week an inquiry about whether to use real names of our children when we write publicly about them. I answered that I use pseudonyms for my kids: Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3. I use those names because my children are still minors and I don’t think they always want me writing about them. When I started this blog, its primary objective was to show them slices of my thinking, and to perhaps paint lovely moments for them as a retrospective once I’m dead and eaten by worms.

What I didn’t say in that reply was that I also don’t use many full-on photos of them. I also don’t talk about where they go to school and talk about their teachers’ names. I give pseudonyms for their classmates like Japser and Helga or Otto. Their teachers are often referenced by names like Mr. Hoffnalagenar because there’s likely only one of those in the world. Sometimes the names represent people who don’t even exist.

In fact, I’m not an earthling. My ship, a flying Xamfrag, is coming from planet Rastrag in the Cloaticox galaxy on Dreistal 13th, two days after what you call “National Limerick Day.”

I’ve said things like this (nothing like that immediately above) before. I know many people try to protect their children, consider themselves child advocates, and warn their children about the dangers of the Internet… but what if one of the dangers of the Internet is … their parents?

We have the best of intentions. We don’t mean to harm our kids, but when we blog about their lives, report on our blogs or Twitter feeds about their travails at school with teachers or bullies, show pictures of them in the tub or when babies during their nursing bliss or tell stories about their natural moments of self-discovery, we’re sorta harming them. We’re sorta saying, “Hey Cinderella, you might be in preschool now, but sooner than I’d like because time flies so fast, you’ll discover a locker in a school hall somewhere waiting for you to be shoved into it because of this post I’m writing about your bedwetting bullying teacher hairstyle dental problem.” You know why? Bullies are everywhere.

Maybe deep inside we feel left out. We want the attention. Ever heard of Munchausen by Internet? If we weren’t blogging we wouldn’t have any attention. We wouldn’t have innocent strangers caring for us and thinking of us and praying for us… to me, that’s sorta creepy. If I blog about my kid’s stuff, I better be damned well sure that I’m not making this about me. If we weren’t putting this out there, no one would know about us… gasp! Horrors! You know what? That might not be so bad.

The thing is: the Internet is public. Smaller bloggers may not have a gazillion followers, well, you might not — me with my dynasty back on Rastrag, I’m covered. They’ve got a 45-clutink high statue of me in the Commander Dryflog Room in the Hall of Galaxies.

Back to my point: the photos can wind up anywhere. Anyone can read your blog and anyone can pick on your kids. When we think about protecting our kids, we might need to include ourselves in their list of unintentional and possible offenders. When we have anyone anywhere with access to a smart phone, not even having to buy a computer, to be able to surf and download pics and all sorts of stuff… people on house arrest, people on parole, people at the pizza joint around the corner, people on other planets… (just sayin’) we should be more careful. The world has changed TONS from even three years ago.

Here’s what I’m not: perfect, the best blogger, the safest parent and the sage of all things. But I do try to be consistent. I have friends who show pics of their kids and that’s their choice. I don’t cringe when I see the pics because I do believe that the earth, your planet, is largely populated with good people. It’s the dark dark dark woo-woo creepy 2% that has no boundaries, whose wrath knows no limits and whose predilections have no definition. On Rastrag, we have a place for those life forms, it’s very much what like you all call the ball pit at “Chuck E. Cheese” here. They can’t handle it.

I know I’m taking a little step into “Judgemental Judy” -land with this post. I just hope I’m wrong. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m totally paranoid. Who knows? I just know that when I writing something and my kid comes in and says, “Is that about me? I hope not.” I better take notice. Everything in moderation.

Thank you.

PS – if you think this post is about you and you’re mad, don’t get mad at me. You’re not mad at what you’re mad at.

UPDATE: consider this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/15/pam-van-hylckama-vlieg-attack-agent-author_n_1886696.html

Parents, Protect Your Children and My Letter to the School.


Here is a letter I wrote to our school today…

I stopped in at the school office this morning after I trailed behind a little girl named “Gertrude Von Hildenberg*” who’s in first grade to make sure she got to school safely.

It seems I do this at least once a semester for someone. I don’t mind it, truly, but it does bother me that these wee children are left to walk to school alone.

I know where Gertrude Von Hildenberg lives and her brother is on my son’s soccer team and her mom and I are “path friendlies” meaning that’s how I mostly know her. Gertrude Von Hildenberg ‘s brother Hans* was in Mrs. Flapdoodle’s* class with my son last year as well, so there’s that awareness as well but it’s very high level and mostly casual.

So around 8:42-ish this morning as I was walking my way back home, I saw Gertrude Von Hildenberg on her way. Another woman, in her 60s, was walking her dog and I thought Gertrude was with her. She wasn’t. So the woman and I chatted a moment about Gertrude being alone and I decided I would “shadow” her up to the school entrance.

When we got to the foot of the hill, a neighborhood maintenance worker was approaching the trash bin at the bottom of the hill near the first bridge. It all was fine, no weirdness there at all, but the fact remains that this child walked to school ostensibly alone for about five minutes (little legs and the wandering first-grader’s eye and thoughts make for a meandering mosey to school, not a walk).

This is the path to school… about 2/3 of the way there and where I encountered Gertrude. That child is not Gertrude. It is Hans. No… it’s not. This pic is about seven years old, but nothing has changed.

Gertrude got to the school courtyard and the doors were shut and locked. She paused at the entry, outside the garden courtyard and audibly said, “OH NO, the DOORS are LOCKED. What will I DO?” and she started TO HEAD HOME. I sensed this and I said, “Gertrude Von Hildenberg? You’re Hans’s sister, right?” (I’m about 6′ away from her.) She said, “Yes.” Without blinking an eye, totally trusting me and not questioning anything about my sort of sudden appearance… I said, “Don’t go home, honey. I’ll go ahead and push the button and you can walk right in…” So she followed me.

Your blinds were drawn as were the assistant principal’s (probably from the night cleaning crew) so even if you were in your office, you wouldn’t have been able to see anything. The cafeteria crew was in the café with the people who were doing the eye exams so there were people milling about inside, but they’re all busy and doing their things.

Gertrude went in and headed to her classroom. I talked to the front office staff about the situation and they said they’d chat with you about it. The lunch lady and I exchanged waves on my way out of the school courtyard.

Here’s where I’m going: she was all alone. Her name was sewn on her backpack. She let me lead her somewhere. No one saw me help her.

Crazy, bad stuff happens all over this county all the time to our schoolchildren — mostly older kids, like what’s going on over at a nearby high school. Sadly, most of it is not “isolated” in that known people are hurting the kids, but on the off chance that some random weird person is lurking in the woods outside our school, waiting for a kiddo to be late… I don’t need to finish that >gulp< sentence.

What’s my takeaway?: please remind parents to protect their children. Suggest they not personalize the backpacks and the lunch bags.

Remind them to chat with their children and to impress upon them that no strange adult needs the help from a child EVER and that no known adult needs the help of a child out of view of others.

I’m going to write a blog post about this experience… but I hope you’ll send out a note too.

Take care,  Molly


Thank you.

*duh, fake names.

ps – please share / reblog this post if you feel it’s appropriate. this message is so important. all children need advocates.

Update – I just spoke with Frau Von Hildenberg and she explained that this situation was a perfect storm of Herr Von Hildenberg being out of town, the younger liebschöen Von Hildenberg being unwell and that Gertrude left the house accompanied by friends but apparently they separated. Gertrude’s trip to school is less than 1/4 mile all on the same side of the road as the school, so there’s no danger about crossing streets but as you can see from the picture above, it’s densely forested in some parts. The thing is though, she did get separated and she did trust a stranger. Frau Von Hildenberg expressed her surprise at Gertrude’s solitude but wasn’t surprised that her daughter was so trusting. I extended my phone numbers to her in hopes that I can be of assistance in the future.

What’s the takeaway from this?: It does take a village. Get to know your neighbors, ask for help if you’re overwhelmed and really, don’t assume your kiddo’s gonna do what you tell him to, especially when it comes to getting to school.

10/24/12 UPDATE:

update re the post i wrote about the lone child on the path to school! the principal sent out a great message today and it’s great to see this stuff start to unfold for the benefit of the kids:


We are very proud of our safety record as it relates to students at our school, and because the safety of our students is always a priority we ask that parents join us in keeping all students safe. Please remind students to travel always with a buddy when walking to and from school. Make sure they travel during the times patrols, parents and school employees are posted on duty and on the paths. In the event students are late an adult should escort them to school. Parents are asked to notify the Main Office as well as classroom teacher regarding changes in the way your child needs to travel (i.e. Kiss and Ride student needs to walk home or bus student needs to be picked up at Kiss and Ride). Please review the safety rules with your children routinely to make sure they know exactly what to do in any situation. Make sure your child does not interact with strangers. We appreciate all of those parents who walk along the paths, stand at the bus stops and report potentially unsafe conditions to the school. The partnership we have benefits all students.

we are working on creating student safety assemblies and other types of grass-rootsy activism which is always best when it begins with the children.

thank you to everyone who shared that post.