I remember it like it was yesterday. Anxious. Scared. Angry. A little bit of nervous laughter and a whole lot of tears, the day that another human being read from the inner recesses of my adolescent mind. The day my diary was read aloud by a friendly intruder.
My diary was like a best friend, she always listened and never judged. She watched me grow, mature, fall in love, get heart broken.
I had written in a diary most of my young life, when I didn’t receive the coveted padlocked diary for Christmas or my birthday, I’d convert an old A4 hardcover school book into my paper confidant. I wrote about everything! Well, almost everything. My diary was like a best friend, she always listened and never judged. She watched me grow, mature, fall in love, get heart broken. She felt the wetness of my tears as I wrote, understood neglect when life was too busy to tell her of it. You can only imagine the terror when said diary was acquired by friends of my brother at the young age of 11 when I had my first proper crush on Yeric!
We lived in a complex at the time, we had many friends in the complex and spent most of our time with these friends after school and on weekends. We befriended a nasty yet intriguing character named Andre (He later shot me with an air rifle, some friend!) and his quiet, mysterious friend Yeric. I was 11 for goodness sake and I was very taken with this dark haired mystery manboy who barely gave me the time of day. My natural reaction was to go and pen the very deepest emotion I had discovered and what was merely a school girl crush bordered on a psychotic obsession in my diary. His name scrawled across every page. Hearts circled all the words I had used to describe him. It became ritual to write of him when I saw him and take note of every small yet important interaction we had had and the day I actually entered his house (with my brother) received a double page dedication in the afore mentioned diary. I was only 11 but as far as 11 year olds go, I was in love.
When you live in a house with 3 siblings, finding a hiding place for the most secret of thoughts and words is near impossible. I settled on a cosy spot underneath the mattress of my bunk bed hoping that my diary would never be found by prying eyes – Alas, one day in my absence, she was stolen! Unbeknownst to me, I was shortly to enter into the single most embarrassing moment of my entire life.
I came home that day to find Andre and my brother Michael running around the house with my diary! They were reading all of my secrets, betraying my heart’s desires and laughing at my near obsession over the mysterious Yeric! I was mortified and instantly brought to tears and as they laughed and laughed, I fought back. I managed to grab my diary from them but not before the damage was done and some sibling violence had occurred… Naturally, they ran off (I blame Andre the most) to reveal all of my secrets to Yeric about my ‘love’ for him and I dare say that I don’t think Yeric ever spoke to me again, I was heart broken. Thankfully, I’m resilient and I got over it! Many more diaries were written in (and destroyed) and up until recently, I’d all but forgotten the Yeric diary incident. Until I committed the ultimate betrayal, I too became the reader of a diary!
As someone who has always loved to write, I’ve spent 10 years encouraging my daughter to do the same… And she does! She writes songs and poems, stories and her thoughts. She has been keeping diaries since she first learnt to write which I’ve encouraged her to save for one day to read back on. For her birthday she received a new diary, a little pocket sized book with a cute little kitten on the front and you can imagine my excitement when the very next day she was already writing in it! Unfortunately, I didn’t stop there. Despite being excited, I was curious – what does a now 10 year old write in this book? Most importantly, she is too young to have boy crushes and if her diary was anything like mine then I was expecting to find hearts and kisses.
I read it.
I don’t feel good about, in fact I feel awful. So awful that almost immediately afterwards I told her I had done it. More than feeling awful about reading her diary, I am annoyed with myself for not giving her enough credit. When I opened her diary, I didn’t find love hearts or kisses or details of a boy crush. I found only honest thoughts of a 10 year old about life and her intense dislike for doing chores – nothing out of the ordinary. I went to her and told her I had read her diary, she too was mortified but I saw her little face crushed and promised myself I will never read anything she writes again without her permission. I also offered her an embarrassing story in return for embarrassing her by reading her diary… But it wasn’t enough to tell her and her alone, so I humiliate myself internationally and post my embarrassing story online for the world to see. It is not enough to make up for reading her diary but it will be enough to make her smile and not destroy her desires to keep her own diary, her best friend, her own confidant.
The diary saga has taught me a very valuable lesson… As parents, we too were young once. Our children may be growing up faster than we did but they’re still experiencing all of the same emotions and anxieties that we did as well. We need to be mindful of that the next time we do something that may upset our children – remember how YOU felt when it happened to YOU.
I know that having my diary read crushed me, I only hope she’ll forget as I did.