A few months ago, I left my 3 year old daughter to my parents for the day. In the afternoon, when I was back to pick her up, my father pulled me aside. He wanted to tell me something without her listening.
Now, before I go on, let me give you some context: One of the things we are trying hard as young parents is to teach our daughter how to eat healthy, but at the same time, help her build a healthy relationship with food: things like at least trying each food before deciding if she likes it or not, eating fruits and vegetables, and at the same time not being religiously limited to the “healthy” stuff.
So, sweets are not out of the question, but she’s learned that —unless we are at a party or a special occasion— she can only have one at most per day. We are not making a big deal out of it, it’s not something illegal, but she knows that this is the right way to treat sweets.
When I would pick her up from her grandparents, the first thing she would tell me would be the things she did, that she “shouldn’t” have done: “Daddy, daddy, I ate a candy and I watched TV!” And I would pick her up, and tell her laughing that “Now, I’ll have to scold grandpa!”
So, back to our story, here’s what my father told me:
It so happened that day, that she ate a piece of cake and later, she had a chocolate cookie.
“Two sweets in one day, Christina!” laughed her grandfather when he realised it. “Now, what are we going to tell daddy?”
She paused and thought about it for a moment. Then she put on her cutest smile and turned to him.
“Grandpa, can this be our little secret?”
And this was the first time Christina held something secret from us.
As she grows up, she will have more secrets: The preparation of a surprise party, or the “secret” ingredient to make a great pie —the small, cute things.
Later, she will probably decide to share some of her thoughts with her mother, but not me and vice versa. One day, she will probably have a secret crush.
And as she grows older, as her life becomes more rich and more complicated, as her relations will become more diverse to include friends, lovers, acquaintances, employers, teachers, relatives and coworkers, she will realise that keeping some control over the information she shares about her, is a good thing: It’s actually control over who she is.
Secrets are part of human nature.
Part of the reason I wrote this article is to answer the question, “why do you need to keep secters from the Government if you’ve done nothing illegal”.
This article was also published on Medium.com.