A few weeks ago I was reading to my older kids from Brene Brown’s latest book Daring Greatly and shared with them something Brene had said at her book launch I attended here in Houston: She always asks her family’s permission before sharing their story.
insert imaginary light bulbs over my kids’ heads
“Wait! Back up! She aassssskkkkssss for permission first? Gee, mom. Maybe you need to take a page from her book.” Crap! I clearly didn’t think that one through first. I understand both sides (me wanting to share the story vs my children NOT wanting me to share their story) and am wading amongst the mucky waters of good parenting while being a good story teller. My compromise has been to furiously write down Allen and She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named’s stories and try to ask them for permission when we’re maybe shopping… or at Disney…. or when they want to go out with friends…. Or when the memory of the blog-worth event has faded and the emotions aren’t as raw. I, however, am not extending this compromise to the younger kids for several reasons with the biggest being they won’t understand what it is I’m asking.
Speaking of not understanding, I have a Jessi story to share. At the beginning of school, we warned her teachers she might tell outrageous stories to gain attention. Tall tales during an assignment are usually her favorite, because she can get the wide-eyed expressions (adult reaction) while keeping the attention on her (especially when her tall tale involves her being a victim) while simultaneously getting out of her work (her goal). What I neglected to tell the teachers was our definition of outrageous.
The first email we received simply asked, “What does your husband do for a living?”
Hello Mrs. M,
Thank you for asking what my husband does for a living. He’s active duty Coast Guard and is currently a vessel inspector. This past year he was in LA on a small cutter that rescued boaters and did fisheries law enforcement. Before that he was in TX on a large cutter that rescued migrants and tried to catch drug runners.
I suppose that COULD sound a little far fetched coming from a child who has been labeled an outrageous storyteller. I continued to type a list of REAL events and elements that accurately describe our family, which went a little like this:
- She was born in Alaska, but is part Hawaiian and her birth father sends her a box of macadamia nuts every Christmas.
- She lived on an island in Alaska and frequently saw bears, whales, sea lions, puffins and eagles. The eagles would sit in the trees outside of our house and emit their screams when we’d get in the truck.
- She’s flown on C-130s to Anchorage where we’d go to restaurants and shopping at the mall. She saw a volcano erupt during one of those flights.
- She’s been to Hawaii and hula danced on the beach. She also listens to her birth grandmother’s music CDs at night to keep her Hawaiian culture alive.
- She has 2 brothers who are deaf.
- She has 1 brother with magnets in his head and he can hear with little computers on his ears.
- She has a brother who has a button that mom hooks a tube to and pours milk into his stomach.
- She has a brother whose head is really small and will never get bigger; even as his body grows, his head will always be small. Mom calls him “Little Head”.
- She has a grandmother who is a veterinarian and she’s helped with surgeries and isn’t too scared of the blood.
- Her house flooded 2X .
- She has a Kodiak grizzly bear on the wall at home.
- She once caught a halibut while whales were breeching around the boat.
- She went with her family to Alaska to adopt a little boy, but he had to go back, because his RAD was more intense than hers.
- She fished for salmon all the time in Alaska and caught one with her bare hands.
I have no doubt that poor teacher was wide-eyed and wondering where in her job description were statements related to having a RAD student, especially one with the adventures like Jess. In the end, it was easier to ask the teachers to email if they felt a story needed validation. I want them to be able to teach their classes rather than spending too much time verbally fact checking a RADling.
None of this, by the way, is told to you when they place that precious little toddler with the ringlet curls in your arms. There is no Magic 8 Ball to predict the future, but if there was one 8 years ago and it was accurate, I imagine it would have said, “Buy wine NOW”.
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