Open Book Or Oversharer: What Are Your Personal Privacy Settings?by Dani Alpert
My boyfriend and I just completed building a house and we're now decorating it. The following is a popular and frequent exchange, occurring several times a day:
HIM: "How can you not like that?"
ME: "Because it's ugly."
And through the intense process of producing a house, I've learned that my lover is more anal than I had originally thought.
Case in point: the other day I bought several votive candles to put with our framed photographs in our book case. But after seeing the empty mantlepiece with the flat screen television hovering only inches above it (and I could go on a whole other rant about mounting the television over a fireplace), we decided to put the votive candles on the mantle.
You have never seen someone make such a production out of placing eight tiny votives in a straight line. He started off by eyeballing them for alignment (thank God, because if he got out a tape measure or leveler, I was going to have a stroke). After that came an extended period of leaning over to adjust and then stepping back to see his handiwork. He looked like the friggin' Rain Man, pushing one here, sliding another over there. I had to walk away. I'm not equipped to handle that much OCD.
After washing the Rain Man image from my mind, I shifted my focus to that I've been struggling with for awhile now: I'm Facebook friends with my boyfriend's 12-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter. This means that they can read everything that I write (including this post), if they choose to.
I thought friending the kids was a good way to see what kind of trouble they might get into and get a heads up on any inappropriate behavior taking place. I also feel there's a certain amount of freedom that kids get by expressing themselves online and I was hoping I would learn something about them as people. And of course there's the dark, ugly and dangerous side as well, which was another reason I wanted to be their friend. I watch Dateline.
(I can't imagine if Facebook existed when I was 12 and 17-years-old. My parents would've been privy to my kleptomaniac phase in eighth grade and the many keg parties that we had in high school when they were out of town - which was often.)
All was fine until I started writing articles like "Are You Jealous of Your Partner's Masturbation?" and "Skype Sex" - because in order to improve my readership, stats and traffic, I post it on Facebook and Twitter. Helloooo Girlfriend Kids!
I haven't been a Girlfriend Mom very long and this sort of thing is completely foreign to me. I'm not sure if it's my responsibility to monitor what the kids see or read. My boyfriend hasn't said anything, so perhaps I should let it go. Then again, he just asked me if someone moved the votives, so I'm not entirely sure where his priorities are.
Just to give you some sense of the content, my mother doesn't show my more salacious articles to my dad. If it makes my mother uncomfortable, then what effect might it have on a 12 year old boy? Am I being paranoid? Is it egotistical to think that he would even want to read my stuff? I think he's spending his time on more important things, like friending the entire cast of The Jersey Shore.
I know that kids growing up today are exposed to a lot more adult-related material than I was at their age. However, my parents never hid the fact that they smoked pot from me (or as they liked to call it, "grass"). It's hard to know what should be kept locked in a drawer and I suppose it's different for every parent.
Speaking of drawers - my boyfriend came to me the other day and said that his son asked him what "Gun Oil" was for. I almost seized! That particular brand of personal lubricant is kept in our nightstand drawer, where most people keep their lubricants (except those of you who don't need the extra help and to you I say, God bless and LIARS!).
His son obviously went on a fishing expedition in our bedroom. I'm not sure what I was more miffed at - the invasion of privacy or the fact that my boyfriend makes no effort to hide the contraband.
"What did you tell him?" I asked.
In my boyfriend's quick-thinking wisdom, he said it was used to oil door hinges.
Now I'm no blood-related mother but there's no way his son bought that crappy line. And the fact that my boyfriend believes that he did just goes to show Daddy's gullibility - or maybe his need to prolong his son's innocence.
I'd like to be a responsible adult and parental figure, but at the same time, I prefer to leave most of the child-rearing responsibilities to my boyfriend and the blood-related mother. And I just know that if I read about my dad's girlfriend's favorite sex trick in bed - whether I was 12 or 45 - I'd throw up and then take a shower to wash the image away. Just like I did with my Rain Man.