Sometimes you have a moment where things just connect. I wrote recently about privacy and the internet when it comes to children. I thought that I’d been pretty succinct but this afternoon it came to my attention that there might be something more to say on the topic.
Within minutes of walking through the door I was presented with a colorful drawing that Kidddo had been working diligently on since coming home from school. He excitedly told me that he wanted to enter it into a contest that the state’s Comission on Environmental Quality is sponsoring. I asked him to tell me about his drawing and I would look at the entry form.
The picture is of the electric car dealership that he wants to own. He’s been interested in electric vehicles and alternative sources of energy for years now. The interest grew from his first true love, which was cars. He made the point that the bigger red trucks are actually electric semi-trailer trucks.
As I read through the form, my heart sank.
I agree that the TCEQ and its successors, licensees and assigns there to shall have the non-exclusive and perpetual right, but not the obligation to use my child’s name, photograph, voice, likeness, and similar characteristics of his/her identity for advertising, publicity, promoting, selling, and other related purposes in connection with TCEQ both during and after the contest.
So we had (another) talk about safety. I do my best to be appropriately honest with Kiddo about the why of my reasoning. I told him that his Old Daddy didn’t know where we live because we aren’t safe around him. I reminded him that all correspondence goes through my mother’s house for that exact reason. We talked about the advertising aspect of this contest and my concerns about it. I reassured him that under no circumstances would I ever make a decision that would knowingly put his safety at risk. I told him that I was sorry but I wouldn’t allow him to enter the contest.
I have to give him credit, he did his best to bring up a counterpoint. This lead to a quick internet search that confirmed that there is, in fact, only one elementary school in the state with his school’s name.
He got upset and took a few minutes to himself in his room. I could hear him – first angrily fussing and then crying through the apartment wall. When things got quiet I wiped my own tears away quickly, knowing that he would come out soon. We talked about how he was upset that he worked hard on the picture and how he felt that work was for nothing if he could not enter it into the contest. I told him that I understood why he was upset and disappointed by my decision. I told him it was okay to feel the way that he did. I asked if he understood why I was making that particular call on this subject and I was rewarded with a heavy sigh of resignation along with a ‘for my safety.’ I told him that I was sorry I had to make the decision that he didn’t want but that was my job as his Mama – and his safety is always the most important thing.
So yeah, I’m that parent. I know there are people who would disagree with my choice; some would say I am paranoid. My only response is: I acknowledge the absolute right (& responsibility) of a parent to make the decision they feel is best. I don’t need the validation of others to know that I’m a good mother. I extend my respect to other parents by not judging or questioning their decisions publicly. God knows we’ve all screwed up or been less than graceful under pressure. I’m not going to shame anyone. I support my fellow parents with an empathetic nod, a quiet chuckle, and sometimes even my absolute silence.
Thankfully, Kiddo was appeased by giving the picture to my mother. Now, a few hours later, he seems to have moved past the initial hurt. This is something we’ve discussed before and no doubt will again in the future. I suspect that he forgets about it, which means that I’m doing a good job in providing him with a secure home environment.
I do my best and some days I get it right.