Candy Schulman learned the hard way why you should never read your child’s diary. She might right about you. And it might not be very nice.
Candy gave her 8-year-old a diary. At first, the diary was a shared experience: her little girl would write in it and then read the brief, simple entries aloud to her mom. Then one day, it became private. No more guests in the house of her daughter’s secret thoughts. The diary became a literally locked treasure that Amy quietly kept away from her mom. Candy missed being invited to read the diary but respected Amy’s privacy.
Until the day Amy left her diary sitting unlocked on the table in the living room. The temptation was too much for Mom, who dug in to read her daughter’s juicy secrets.
The stuff of an 8-year-old’s diary tends to be pretty straightforward: her crushes, her friends, her favorite things to do. And her secret feelings about her mom:
MY SECRET THOUGHTS ABOUT MY MOTHER. She wants to know evything [sic].
Candy says this stung, but notes that she was reading her daughter’s private diary. It seems like a very straightforward reward for snooping, to me.
I’ll admit that I haven’t been in Candy’s shoes. My oldest daughter is six, and just learning to write. Diaries are a few years in her future still. I haven’t been faced with the temptation of a juicy book of secret thoughts lying there in front of me.
I’m pretty sure what I’ll do when that day comes, though. Keep my hands to myself.
I’m a lifelong diarist. I began my first journal when I was 8, and have kept a daily account of my life almost continuously since. My diary now isn’t so full of “what I did today” entries as it is a place to process the stuff of my day. I can’t imagine anyone I love reading it, least of all my daughter. True, no child could read my messy scrawl and she probably wouldn’t care how I feel about Mrs. Dalloway and growing older. But they are my private thoughts and I’d like to keep them that way.
Still, if I ever run across a fledgling diary of my daughters, I’d like to extend her the same courtesy I hope she’d give me if somehow she laid hold of my diary.