For almost 5 years, my kids, under various aliases, have grown up on the internet. A lot has been fictionalized. A lot has been true. I’ve never been shy about lying while admitting I’m lying and also lying about lying. That’s how I like things. That’s how nature likes things. Confusing. But lately, I’ve been stifling my Twitter and Instagram thumbs in an effort to just be with my kids. I’ve wondered why I’m so compelled to broadcast my life across social media channels. I’ve been hard on myself. And I haven’t liked my provisional answers.
Yesterday I did something with my children. That’s all I’m saying about it. There were three players: me and my two children. And we did something. This something, which could be anything, remains inside a bubble of solitude. It’s hiding like a secret. Inside our memories. It’s not for you. Why would it be? That’s what I’m wondering. To what end would I tell you about or show you my personal experiences with my children?
Like everything, it was a lot of things. It was fun, yes, and it would have been easy to highlight the zany aspects of the event and put them on display. But there were elements of boredom too and also bits of conflict between the three of us. Anger. Some waiting. Minor injuries. And there were parts of it that I straight up missed because of a general depressed condition that tends to drag me into memory and false nostalgia. An event has so many perspectives. In spite of the very fun surface, I wondered how the experience stacked up next to the experiences the kids have with my ex-wife and her boyfriend. I wondered if the kids were merely acting like they were having fun. Do they hate me? I bet the kids hate me. And then I’d return to my breath, my children, and the way we all appeared in the event as it happened, which didn’t (it never does) include the darker emotional elements that we employ words like “depression” and “self-pity” to describe.
In addition to all this was the frequent desire to grab my phone, take pictures, Instagram them, and also tweet little little verbal snapshots of the incredible time we were having on Twitter. Do you see how the social media elements are compelled, or how I’m compelled to use the social media elements, to express the positive surface of the event?
What I’m thinking is that the negative self-concept part of the way I understand myself as a parent compels me to counteract it with a frenzy of social media presentations that prove to YOU (the Other) what I don’t actually believe myself. Look at all these images and descriptions of my joyous kids filled with light and love. Aren’t they having a GOOD time? Aren’t they HAPPY? Isn’t it true that I am the SOURCE of all this excessive mirth? So, though the pictures are supposedly of my CHILDREN, the hidden image that I’m hoping to express is actually of ME, of me as a good person and a good parent. And I would even venture to say that there’s a relationship between the AMOUNT I express on social media and the intensity of the lie. What I mean to say is that the level of my self-loathing can be measured by the number of happy images I thrust upon the world.
Or maybe not. Wink.
I’ve just been trying to be aware of it, to leave my phone in my pocket a little more in order to see who I am when I’m with my kids, just me and my kids. It’s a different way to be and, obviously, much more original. This third person (you, the audience) is a relatively new development in the parenting experience. We’re the pioneers and I’m not sold on any of it being good or bad or absolutely anything. But I want my motives checked, I want to explore why I am the dad I am and, sometimes, more so recently, I’m interested in an experience of my children that happens just for us, bypassing the concern regarding how I might frame those experiences for consumption by Others.
So, yeah, me and my kids – we did something. In the world created between our relations, something happened and then it did not.
Read more from me at Black Hockey Jesus,
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