Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Privacy, Please?

My husband is intensely private, and while I tend to let quite a bit hang out, I'm seeing the wisdom of his perspective.  He and I were raised in a church culture that was fairly anti-privacy, where people felt free to ask nosy questions in the name of spiritual accountability, and we felt obligated to share the details. While I've enjoyed the relative anonymity of moving to a new community, one small cost of making friends means losing some of that privacy.  So privacy has been on my mind a lot these days. Partly I've been thinking about it because of recent news of government surveillance, but partly because I get very little personal privacy, so I am becoming more protective of my privacy and that of my family.

I can predict with frightening accuracy just how long it will take before one of my kids comes looking for me any time I change my clothes, shower, or try to use the restroom alone: three to five seconds.  Kids who ignore me for hours suddenly all need me the second I'm without pants.  For this reason, I finally have a lock on my bedroom door, an odd detail that was overlooked by the previous owners and that I kept forgetting to remedy.  Turns out that the lock doesn't block out tattling or whining, but that's a bit much to ask, I suppose.

Online privacy has become more of a priority as well.  I have decided to take a month off from Facebook, and I don't miss it.  It aided me when I was getting established here and finding my community, but I'm finding now that it's a substitute for spending time with people, and not a very good one.  I have edited my friends list and created an "acquaintances" profile. I deleted people who disrupt my peace of mind.  My older kids are also getting to an age where it's very disconcerting to them that people seem to know a lot about them.  Fair enough, kiddos!  I can honor your privacy.  It's also been great to avoid the uncomfortable over-sharing that happens on Facebook.  I know you have that friend.  We all do.  (Please don't say it's me!).

People have been intruding into our privacy quite a bit lately as we have spent 3 months fighting off a serious case of eczema on my four-year-old daughter's skin.  Strangers will ask her "have you been crying?" or will ask me "what's the matter with her skin?"  or "OMG, is that contagious?".  I want to say, "no, but rudeness is, so I suggest you step back away from my children!"  We got many, many unsolicited suggestions on how to treat it.  Some were dangerous or downright ridiculous.  Some were helpful and reasonable.  Most we had already tried.  She went gluten free for a month.  We tried OTC creams, unguents, potions, lotions, and salves of all kinds.  No relief, poor kid!  Finally, we went for a second visit to the pediatrician and left with 5, yes FIVE, prescriptions.  And you know what?  She looks great!  My beautiful girl looks 90% better and is not waking up with terrible scratch marks all over her skin.  Maybe in time I would have found the magical allergen to avoid or the elusive cream that would have solved our problem, but for now I'm thankful that modern medicine will save my sweet child from embarrassing questions.

Living 8 feet away from neighbors to my east and west, surrounded by young kids, and living in a small-ish house with one bathroom, I am pretty sure that the most intimate day-to-day privacy is not coming any time soon, but I'm learning to appreciate the value of protecting the privacy we have.