The interwebs are recently abuzz with a series of pictures taken, and publicly shared, by mom Kim Kelly-Wagner. She has two daughters whom she adopted in China, and as they've grown from the babies they were when she adopted them to their current ages of 13 and 7, she's had more than her share of insensitive comments.
So, she decided to take a series of photographs of her daughters holding signs that share some of these comments and questions and post the pics on her Facebook.
The pictures are not à la Jimmy Fallon's celebrity guests reading mean tweets. They are not funny, despite the girls laughing or smiling in some of them, and the signs convey a more important message—comments hurt, even ones that are said with good intentions. It's a good message; I too have fielded some eyebrow-raising questions and comments with my daughter listening in, as have most parents via adoption.
But did Kelly-Wagner go too far by involving her children? Some say yes. Critics have called her pictures exploitative, with one commenter describing the photos as a "parent fail."
The mother insists her daughters were willing participants and fully aware of what the purpose of the photo shoot was. They even helped create the list of comments they wanted to use for the signs. Kelly-Wagner feels it was an empowering exercise for her girls and gave them a good opportunity to discuss the comments, the perceived intentions, and possible responses. She provided the example of a recent exchange when a stranger noted that she "could never love someone I didn't give birth to" in front of Kelly-Wagner's eldest daughter.
The daughter's response? "Oh, did you give birth to your husband?" and she walked away.
So what's your take? Are these pictures educational and empowering, or exploitative?
When my stepson turned thirteen, I was a little nervous. Let's face it — the teen horror stories are far more plentiful than the warm-hearted anecdotes. While he does hibernate on weekends, often eats like a bear who has just awakened from hibernation, and occasionally flips us some snarly bear attitude, I haven't seen much of the "stereotypical" teenager that I've read so much about.
I acknowledge that perhaps I could be seeing more of the teen terror as my stepson moves deeper into teenhood, but I also have noticed that there's a lack of good press for teenagers, which shapes our belief that they're difficult.
Here's something to combat that: not only will this video stir up a few tears in your eyes like it did with mine, but it's a great example of teenagers at their best — and who wouldn't want to see that?
Check out what the head of The Dave Thomas Foundation has to say about teenagers, or read about what it's sometimes like to be a stepmother.
Yesterday, Baby Girl brought home a notice—her class was decorating their room door with pictures of their heroes, so each student was asked to bring in a picture of their own personal hero.
I asked her who her hero was and she responded immediately:
The warm and fuzzies spread through me, but then a strange thing began to happen.
I started to think of other people that I considered more deserving of being my daughter's hero.
I thought of my parents, who are so patient, attentive, and not-shouty with my daughter—all the things I'm not as often as I'd like to be.
I thought of her brother, my stepson, who even though he only gets to spend half of his time with us, has accepted the sharing of what used to be all of the attention for him, as well as being a loving, tolerant, and educational big brother.
I thought of her father, who works his ass off—sometimes day AND night—to support our family and provide the cushy lifestyle that this family enjoys.
I thought of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who Baby Girl just recently learned of, and their significant contributions to not just my daughter's race, but to all of humanity.
I thought of Tata Madiba—Nelson Mandela—still with tears in my eyes, his incredible sacrifices, his world-changing political and humanitarian efforts that were so monumental for my daughter's homeland. I even tried to convince her to take a picture of Mr. Mandela instead of me.
Then I stopped myself.
Why was I trying so hard to invalidate my own qualifications as a hero?
I asked Baby Girl why I was her hero and do you know what she told me?
Because you love me and take such good care of me.
What kind of hero am I, if I refuse to even listen to my fan club of one or if I teach her that the love and care of someone so precious isn't hero-worthy? Why do I think I need to do so much more than what I'm already doing to deserve hero status?
So today, and apparently every day, I am my daughter's hero.
I accept this honour with pride, from my little hero.
Love you to infinity and back, infinity times, my darling. xo
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out my tribute to Nelson Mandela, or my expression of my feelings to the most important woman to my daughter and me.