Mama Madison: Preserving children's stories

All that social media can be put to good use

My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks. She hasn't expressed much interest in Facebook (she swears it's "over," likely because I am a reasonably heavy user and just about everything I do, according to her, is "over") and doing the 140-character thing hasn't quite grabbed her either. But man, is she is a big, big fan of Instagram. Or what's better known around our house as the "Selfie Site."

My daughter snaps, and often posts, pictures of herself eating breakfast, experimenting with new hairstyles and shopping with friends on Monroe Street (it's a group "selfie," she says -- I guess such a thing exists). I really don't know what one girl could possibly plan to do with so many self-portraits. It's kind of like living with a smaller, blonder, Frida Kahlo all the time, although with slightly thinner eyebrows and without the monkeys. In my daughter's "work," these elements have been replaced with our overweight gray cat.

But I think I have found another place where my daughter's digital dalliances can find a home, and it takes place on Wednesday, May 7, this year. Inspired by such projects as Isthmus' My Madison Day, UW-Madison's UW Right Now and Day in a Life by TIME for Kids, the Madison Children's Museum is inviting all area kids, parents, teachers and friends to join together next Wednesday to take part in a Day in a Kid's Life. On this single day, kids, and those who have kids in their lives, can participate by posting photos, text and video using the #DayinaKidsLife hashtag on social media or via email at DayInAKidsLife@gmail.com. The museum will then upload all tagged and emailed items and weave them together into a narrative fabric for display ate dayinakidslife.com.

According to the folks at Madison Children's Museum, this undertaking is part of the museum's KidShare program, the culture and digital media project that aims to make the Children's Museum into a highly accessible living repository of children's knowledge, wisdom and culture. The goal for the project is to ensure that the gorgeous building on North Hamilton Street is seen not just as a destination for hands-on learning, but also a place for collecting, presenting and preserving children's stories.

And I guess I'd never really thought about my daughter's Instagram indulgences in quite this way. Sure, I may occasionally snap a few shots at birthday parties, graduations and religious celebrations, but those pictures are really expressing what I see as important and noteworthy in their lives, not necessarily what my kids were feeling or wishing to express at a particular moment in time. I guess those selfies, which I long considered a hopefully harmless self-obsession, really can be considered my daughter's visual diary. And it's a diary, since I "follow" her, which I have permission to view.

As Frida Kahlo once said, "I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you." And as I see time passing on every day -- I know turning 12 will flip to turning 21 in the blink of an eye -- I will be thankful to always have my daughter's "portraits" archived online at the Madison Children's Museum.

Even if it's an iPod she's using instead of a paintbrush.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Three cheers for reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival

Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.

Mama Madison: What's in a name?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.

Mama Madison: Eugster's is more than just a visit to the farm

At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.

Help for home-schoolers at the Madison Mentor Center

Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"

Mama Madison: Yummy Sprout is a wonderful resource

After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?

Mama Madison: Tips and tricks for baby air travel

As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.

Mama Madison: Apple-picking time

The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.

Mama Madison: Baby feeding recommendations

I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?

Heartland Farm Sanctuary helps animals that help kids

Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.

Mama Madison: Back-to-school confidences

Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.

Mama Madison: Does back-to-school really mean a whole new wardrobe?

This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"

Mama Madison: Next generation of bloggers

Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.

Mama Madison: Returning to the workforce

This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.

Triathlons raise money to teach kids healthy habits

"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.

Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."

Vital work is being done at the Lussier Community Education Center, from community-building to STEM skills

"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."

Mama Madison: Parental dice rolls?

Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."

Mama Madison: What constitutes a keepsake?

As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.

Mama Madison: Young love

Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.

Mama Madison: What a mother fears most

All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.