Smartmom’s kids hate her Brooklyn Paper column and they want her to stop writing about them. Now. Cease and desist.
The Oh So Feisty One and Teen Spirit have had it: They don’t want their lives plastered across the pages of Brooklyn’s real newspaper anymore.
Teen Spirit has hated the column for ages.
“Lies, all lies,” he has said from time to time. Now, he doesn’t even read it. Smartmom overheard him on the phone recently telling a friend: “Please do not mention my mother’s column to me. Ever.”
For a long time, OSFO has enjoyed being mentioned in the column. She loved the one about her Build-a-Bears and the pictures of her and her friends with their Build-a-Bears in the playground at PS 321.
But more recently she was miffed about the Turquoise Turmoil column — and the fact that her picture was on the front page didn’t help matters. OSFO was so mad that she wrote a comment to the Brooklyn Paper’s online edition: “THIS IS NOT HOW IT WENT AT ALL!!!!!!!!!”
That was nine exclamation points!
Later, she asked Smartmom why she wrote about her without asking her permission. But she didn’t stop there.
She wondered why Smartmom wrote about the time Diaper Diva changed Ducky’s diaper at the Cocoa Bar without asking her.
Then she asked her why she wrote about Teen Spirit’s smoking when Teen Spirit asked her not to write about it. It was like she was building a case against Smartmom and her penchant for using family members as fodder for her stories.
“That’s why I said it was about a friend of mine whose son was a smoker,” Smartmom confided guiltily.
“But you still wrote about it,” she said.
Yes, she still wrote about it. And she didn’t really have a good excuse. Why didn’t she just write about something else? Why did she have to do the smoking piece? Was it really necessary?
These difficult thoughts percolated in Smartmom’s mind. Maybe she was using her family and friends for the sake of her columns. Maybe she was being presumptuous thinking that her family wouldn’t mind being characters in the sit-com of her mind.
Like many writers, Smartmom uses her world as inspiration. But if it’s a story about OSFO or Teen Spirit, who’s story is it? Who does it belong to? Is it Smartmom’s story or does it belong to them?
These are interesting questions. Perhaps Melville wondered whether he had the right to write about Moby Dick or was it Moby Dick’s tale to tell.
Wait, that was fiction.
But what about “Mommy Dearest?” Did Christina Crawford have the right to tell-all about her mother?
Well, of course she had the right to write about her childhood — especially if she was raised by an abusive celebrity mom.
Buddha knows, Smartmom is not an abusive celebrity mom. But she does believe that it’s kosher to write about the parts of her life that include Teen Spirit and OSFO just as long as she’s thoughtful and fair.
Besides, you can’t be a writer if you have to censor your imagination. It just doesn’t work if you have to leave too much out.
On the other hand, Teen Spirit and OSFO have reached an age when privacy is very important. It’s everything. And it’s just not right for their mom to be such a blabberpuss.
Frankly, Teen Spirit never tells Smartmom anything anymore. In fact, when she asks innocent questions about school and friends, he accuses her of prying.
OSFO shares a lot more. But there are plenty of times when she simply answers one of Smartmom’s queries with, “That’s none of your business.” It’s not the nicest way to say it, but it does get the point across. And frankly, it’s probably true.
Dang. There she goes writing about her kids again. How can you be a writer when you have a gag order from your kids about what you can write about?
And yet, as a parent Smartmom must respect their wishes and not compromise their privacy in any way. It’s a tough place for a writer to be.
So what is Smartmom going to write about now? The snow on her window ledge?
If she can’t write about her kids, she’s a goner. She’ll get fired from The Brooklyn Paper. Her agent won’t want to represent her. Nobody will read her blog anymore. She’ll be done for. Finished.
So what’s a Smartmom to do?
Well, it’s this writer’s job to explain her world to the world. And if that world includes her children, her husband, her friends and neighbors, then that’s the story she has to tell. It’s all about the way she writes it, the words she uses, and balance of honesty, fairness and love that she brings to the mix.
It her story — and she’s sticking to it.