Years ago when my son was an infant, we set up an email address for him. It’s his first and last name at gmail.com. We thought it was nice to reserve that for him before hundreds of other Julians thought to nab it.
We began sending him messages about his adventures on this planet, and thought they’d serve as a digital baby book of sorts, messages he might appreciate one day. “Email your baby” was one of our first posts here on RookieMoms.com and it’s nearly word-for-word in our book, The Rookie Mom’s Handbook. You may have seen a very touching Gmail commercial (embedded below) with the same idea.
What I did not understand at the time of creating the account for my son is that I should have kept it for adult use only, and handed him the “keys” when he turned 18, or perhaps even 21 and was ready to use his real name in an email address. We let him use it as soon as he started typing short messages, in about first grade.
At age 9, he uses his email regularly to communicate with his grandparents, send himself links or images he wants to have, and sign up for kid-friendly sites — with my permission — like online LEGO games, which he is playing right now.
When we first encouraged him to begin using his email@example.com account, he discovered that there were already messages inside. And they were weird.
Why is there a message from Mommy telling him about the way he pronounces the name of his lovey?
Who is this person (Mommy’s college friend) who sent him an email about how special it was to meet him?
The lesson here is that 8-year olds are not yet sentimental about their childhood.
I’d like to continue using Julian’s email address to record milestones, but think I need to set up yet another account. He’s not going to appreciate my observations of his childhood in real-time.
Mommy, why did you email me all the details about my birthday party? I was there.
He does keep his inbox immaculately organized with folders. He can usually boast INBOX ZERO. (I taught him to do as I say, not as I do.)
If you have, like us, been holding on to an email account in your child’s name, I suggest you plan to keep holding it. Let them create GoldfishCrackerEatR@gmail.com to use while they are wild and crazy kids. Then, when they have reached an age of maturity, and their ridiculous alias email is littered with spam and LEGO fangirl emails, give them a fresh start with the real name address you’ve saved, after you’ve made a folder inside the account for those childhood memories.
Alternatively, create one, as shown in the Gmail ad, with the prefix “dear” before your child’s name, and use it only for baby book purposes.
Do you have a different way of making a digital time capsule for your kid? I know there are apps for this, but none seem as simple and permanent as email.