Why I took the topper down

During the last school holidays, my daughter attended a cake decorating workshop run by a very dear friend of mine. She spent a morning creating a cupcake topper based on a popular character from a recent Illumination Entertainment film.

She had a brilliant time. The topper she made was superb. And it was a wonderful excuse to catch up with my old friend and lend support to her burgeoning business.

I was so proud of what my little girl had made that I took a photo of her creation and added it to a snap I had taken of her in her apron and chef’s hat before the workshop began. Then I posted them on instagram.

I didn’t think about it too hard. I just wanted to celebrate how proud I was of my daughter and congratulate my friend on her wonderful school holiday program.

When I told her, my daughter was mortified.

She asked me exactly who would see the photo. Then she asked me to take the photo down.

For the first time, I realised that I never asked her permission. I’m not one for posting pics of my kids on social media and I never refer to them by name. And, at the end of the day, let’s face it: it’s not like zillions of random people read my stuff.

But in this moment, I remembered something. A couple of years ago, I was hosting one of my reflective writing challenges on my blog when I noticed that some participants were using the photos I’d used to accompany each post on their own blogs. I figured this was done without a second thought and probably with all the love and respect in the world.

But it gave me pause (to say the least) to see a photo of the back of my daughter’s pigtailed head in our living room on at least a dozen blogs of people I did not know.

After that, I was a lot more circumspect.

It’s been really heartening to see the strides in internet safety education conducted in schools. If anything, it has encouraged us to step up as parents and be more vigilant about the settings on our devices and initiating conversations about appropriate content.

The cupcake topper incident made me realise how vulnerable our children are when it comes to their internet footprint. Who knows the ramifications it may have for their future safety or opportunity?

I felt this was also a sign it really was time to “press the button” on my old blog. I’d been dithering about getting in printed then removing it altogether. But all the writing and photos about my early experiences of motherhood: I saw they needed to disappear.

It’s funny isn’t it. My blog told one side of the motherhood story and it was one that I needed to say.

But now as my daughter grows into her own storytelling, I feel called to ensure that she can do it with integrity and safety.