Way back in 2009, I had an idea: I wanted to post my young son’s utterances on Twitter.
At the time, Twitter was a fairly new service, and still open to experimentation. I wasn’t the first person to post his precocious kids’ quotes there, but it was a bit of a novelty nonetheless. I actually started a little too early to be social-media-level interesting; the first few tweets I posted were about individual words.
It wasn’t long, though, before my son got wordy, and clever, and hilarious. I kept grabbing my phone and jotting things down whenever he made me smile. I thought, at the time, that it’d be funny, maybe go viral a bit, or at least give my friends a laugh.
What I got instead was something different. The tweets stayed fun, but also started capturing the sweet, the poignant, and the magical. As he got older, it inadvertently started to chronicle not just his progress, but his personality.
I soon spun up a Twitter feed for my younger son, too, which captured his own distinct character, including his growth (for example, how he went from individual words to full sentences in a matter of weeks) and his own takes on the world.
And so it went, for years and years. My sons got increasingly sophisticated but no less quotable. And I kept tweeting. It got tougher as they got older–we try not to stare at our phones when we’re together as a family, and they didn’t always want to be recorded. But the feeds endured and grew, for more than a decade.
In recent months, I’ve realized we’ve basically outgrown it. My boys are too mature now, their humor contextual and nuanced, and no longer the stuff of pithy short-form text capture. (Indeed, they’re old enough to have their own social media feeds, should they want them.) But once in a while I’ll catch and record a gem. And as it stands, the archive is wonderful. The boys enjoy reading their own histories once in awhile, and each other’s, simply because it’s such a delightful way to revisit the past.
Alongside the photo albums, the videos and the mementos, my children’s Twitter feeds are, unexpectedly, one of the most cherished items of their formative years.