At what point are our children entitled to privacy?
I ask this question because earlier this week my five year old came home from school and pulled a note out of her bag. I asked her what it was, and with wide, intent eyes she declared, “You can’t look at it. It’s private”. Next she hustled over to the table, keeping the note carefully folded, and pulled out a box of crayons. With her hands shielding the paper from view, she wrote a response to whomever wrote her the note (though my assumptions are that it’s from her BFF and love of her life, Nolan). I went about business as usual, trying to keep my cool and act like I wasn’t DYING to know what the note said. I made her a snack and sidled up the table (I didn’t know that I could sidle, but apparently I can), trying to sneak a peek. She threw her hands over the mystery paper and yelled with horror, “You can’t look! I said it’s PRIVATE!”
This is from the child whose tushie I still occasionally wipe (though it’s rare these days), whose closet I muck through once every few months, whose backpack I empty daily, whose entire existence I have, until this point, been privy to. This is the child who still has a baby monitor in her room because I can’t bear the thought of not being able to hear her reassuring little snores while she sleeps at night. And now at the grand age of five she’s demanding privacy? And writing notes? To BOYS?
Her orbit is slowly changing, and one day I will no longer be her sun. As a mother it’s hard for me to fathom my girl having a world of which I am not the center, but with each milestone she’s moving further and further away. So again, I ask you: is she entitled to her privacy? Is she allowed to write notes that I don’t read and sleep without me listening?
She forgot about the note soon after the finished writing it, and carelessly left it on the table for the world (or at the very least the two other members of the household who can read) to see. I took the paper, still folded, and put it on the counter for her to get later.
And I didn’t even peek.*
*meaning I didn’t fully open it, but I did scrutinize every detail of the outside