Chances are, if you met my son W today, he would tell you anything you could ever want to know about his life, my life, what he just ate, anything — without prompt or request. When it comes to information, he soaks up the world like a sponge and he wrings it out at any opportunity he finds to overshare.
At first I thought it was adorable. Charming. And truly, it was sweet to have a 3-year-old exclaim, “I like cake!” to a stranger with a box from the bakery at the checkout line. However, now he is almost 6 and some of the things he feels compelled to share with the world might be better left unsaid — at least to strangers.
My family is incredibly social by heritage, and it is not entirely surprising that W would behave the same way. It was a family joke that my grandmother never met a stranger, and if you gave her five minutes of chat, she would discover you were either relatives or neighbors.
But W isn’t exactly the conversationalist like my southern grandmother, or my southern mama. He’s a blurter. He really believes he has information you should know. A typical conversation for many kids could be described as a give and take. For W it’s all FYI.
I do wonder if part of this oversharing is because I overshare for a living. I’ve been writing about my son since before he was born. WAY before that. I started writing about the idea of him the moment I began blogging about my struggle with infertility. Within every post about trying to become pregnant, I was establishing a pattern of sharing. I described every visit to every fertility specialist. I wrote about every procedure, all of the medications, every heartbreak.
Then there was triumph and I wrote about being pregnant as if I had invented the idea. I blogged about each moment so I wouldn’t forget it, but also as a way to connect with other people. When I was anxious about going for an ultrasound, I could write about it and hear back from other women who had either been through the scan and had wisdom and stories to share, or women who were going through the same thing and could empathize with my anxiety.
When my son W was born every moment was new. Everything was such a discovery. Parenting! I was doing it! I had to tell anyone who would listen to me about the most adorable thing my kid just did! As the years went on, I started to clearly see the boundary line of my son’s life and my own life. I stopped writing so many anecdotal moments about W because the stories didn’t all belong to me, but both of us.
Meanwhile, in actual life, W was jumping boundaries daily.
My mom didn’t brush her teeth this morning!
This was said to an elevator full of strangers. They all smiled at him and then looked up at me with total judgment in their eyes. We were in a rush, people! I was still chugging coffee!
I have two toilets!
Said to a parent at school. Out of nowhere. Not even a hello. To the parent’s credit, she expertly replied, “How nice.” W then invited her to come over and see them.
I just got a bunk bed!
Said to a kid on the playground. Just blurted it out because it was on his mind. The kid simply looked at W and kept on running.
I have “Uptown Funk.”
Said to his teacher just as I was about to leave the classroom after morning drop-off. His teacher was in the middle of a million other morning tasks and was about to respond, but W continued, “Don’t believe me? Just watch.”
I have to be quiet right now because my mom has a headache.
W whispered this to the librarian at our new local library. I could feel her turn to look at me to see what kind of shape I was in. Then I thought, “Oh yikes! This lady is going to think I am some kind of party animal with a hangover!” So I whispered to her, “Eye strain headache from my laptop.” She nodded her head, but I’m not sure she believed me.
I have to wonder if I started the oversharing domino before my son even came into the world. Kids mimic what they see, and he certainly has observed me having honest and blunt conversations with friends about our life. Granted these conversations have been had in quiet corners of places and not shouted across a packed elevator. Somehow I must have planted the seed: to connect with a person is to share your life with them. ALL OF IT.
Having a son who is enthusiastic about sharing his life and connecting with others is an exciting thing to behold. It’s sometimes embarrassing for me, but I know as he gets older, he will be able to sharpen his connection skills. In the meantime, I will just have to be on my best behavior.