Have I entirely lost my sense of humor? Have I become so righteous and dogmatic about babies and parenting that I have no giggles left to smother? I can assure you: NO. I was about doubled over with mirth for the first five “reasons” this kid was crying. (My personal fave “I wouldn’t let him drown in this pond” Bahahahah!!!) I hit “like” and added a witty comment.
Then I kept scrolling and there were even more reasons. Excellent! This thing was meaty. This kid cried a lot! And the captions were so wickedly deadpan! What was not to like? But as I scrolled I grew troubled.
I think the photo that kinda killed it for me was the one where the little boy was crying and his brother was not. In fact his brother, a mere whippersnapper himself, was quite enjoying himself. Good for him. But suddenly, I needed more information. I needed a little reassurance, reassurance which was not forthcoming. I needed a shot of our subject laughing or smiling or even neutral. Can we get some of those? (Answer: No. because then it would be Reasons My Son is Happy, which would be different thing.) How about a shot of someone comforting the little guy? (He is in arms in one shot now but he wants to get down.) Or empathizing with him? Or just sitting with him? He looks so alone in his little baby despair and rage sitting next to his brother who seems well-equipped to take life’s little indignities in stride, unlike our little man.
And I know he’s not alone, I’m sure he’s not, I mean I’m assuming he’s not. I’m assuming all the comforting and empathy and sitting with came first and it didn’t seem to work or help so the parent came up with this idea of photo-documenting the baby despair and rage so that they could get a little distance or a little perspective, to help them deal with their own feelings of powerlessness in the face of their son’s crying. But there are a lot of reasons! And as it goes on it starts to feel like maybe there’s too much distance and objectivity. Put your camera down and give him a hug — but like I said, they must have done that already. I’m sure they did. They must have right? Of course they did. And I’m not judging, I don’t want to judge, but it kind of feels like we are being asked to take pleasure in this little one’s sadness. What kind of parent would want someone to do that? Maybe a sane parent who knows they are not responsible for every emotion that takes hold of their child — and it’s good to know that. And it is a little bit funny, I’m not gonna lie. What else can you do but laugh sometimes? Kids are ridiculous, c’mon. I feel you.
But it’s too much. It goes beyond sharing a moment, or a series of moments — it’s exploitive. That’s a little person’s face up there on the internet, in dozens of shots, miserable, snotty nosed, tear-streaked, twisted and distorted with grief and anger and I’m sitting here laughing, because the captions are so funny. But I’m laughing at someone’s kid and the parents have actually invited me to laugh at their kid, and not once, not like a one-off indulgent kind of thing, but something deliberate and structured that goes on and on. Those parents must have a tremendous amount of confidence that their son is really fine and happy and very well adjusted in between these tantrums, and that he loves them and is fine with his little mug being posted and snickered at by millions of strangers. Because c’mon, we are not laughing with him, we can’t be laughing with him, because he is NOT LAUGHING. But his parents must be very confident he will laugh this all off someday, because they have just ensured that he is going to go through life as that snotty-nose, cry-baby kid. And it’s not like his parents did this, showed the world how adult and clever they are and what a baby their baby is, and then stopped. No, they are keeping on going. Taking their show on the road, the talk show circuit.
I hope they have figured out some kind of way to monetize this significantly for him,. Maybe there’s a trade-off. Maybe this could pay for his college education. Or psychotherapy? Idk, am I taking this way too seriously? I don’t think so. What do you all think?