Dear Amazing Pinterest Parent,
I can see your broccoli Dr. Seuss tree blowing in your child’s lunchbox. I can see your diced tomato acting as the hair to a Who in the Seussian diorama you’re setting up for your kids to gleefully eat. My kids sees these things too and they tell me how great that lunch looks. I’ll, admit, it is a glorious lunch. And I envy that your kid will eat broccoli, even if it is only because it’s waving like a tree.
Pinterest Parents, right?
With their amazingly sculpted broccoli trees and their bologna sandwiches which are more Picasso looking than they are looking like the crust-cut-off-but-still-extremely-square looking things that I manage to get in a lunchbox for my kids. Or maybe it’s the immaculately thrown birthday party with characters on cakes that look even more real than what we’d see from the first row of a movie theatre. Or Halloween decorations that look far more realistic than the 12 year-old skeleton I have whose eyes would light up if I ever bought new batteries for it. These moms and dads with their meals that look so delicious and healthy and entertaining seem to have a lot of explaining to do.
Many love to criticize these parents. Or if not to criticize them, to hold them up as examples of parents who have way more time than they do.
I choose to admire them. Not to hold them up as better parents than I am (and I don’t think they’d ever claim that) but to think about how happy their kids must be.
I’ve watched Lunchbox Dad put these kinds of meals together for a few years now. And, almost without fail, when he posts an image of one, he gets the old “ugh, I do not have time for this with all I have going on in my life,” comment parents seem automated to post when they see one of these lunches (or a fancy birthday cake or home style magazine calibre nurseries or birthday parties copy and pasted from Pinterest boards onto family room walls).
I get frustrated by the parents who have the instinct to knock down what they’re doing with their kids just because they don’t also do it with their kids. In the parenting world, being tired is the only thing we hold in common, it’s our common currency. Some of us love coffee, others hate it. Some love going for a morning run, others would rather take advantage of the last few minutes of sleep they can get for the day. We’re all tired.
And we hate when someone comes along and shows that they’ve used their time in a different way than we have. And we especially hate it when the way they use their time can be photographed and turned into internet fame. It gives us the impression that the recognition they get means they’re parenting better than we are. Cue the outrage at all the time they must spend ignoring their kids to make these beautiful pieces.
These Pinterest focused parents come along and show us the way they use their time for a few hours of the week and we somehow manage to dream up some alternate universe in which parents are doing nothing but making My Little Pony sandwiches out of cream cheese or making Joy from Inside Out using celery sticks.
But they aren’t. They’re using a few hours a week to do something that makes their kids smile. Just like you do when you make up stores at night with your kids or when you rake up a pile of leaves and let them jump in them for hours on end. That’s you using your time to make your kids smile.
Talk to these people before bashing them and you’ll find out that they have piles of laundry in their house too. That their upstairs bathroom, the one that nobody outside of your family ever really sees anyway, hasn’t been cleaned in a couple of weeks. I happen to know that Lunchbox Dad actually loves the Oakland A’s and that can’t be an easy burden to bear.
You don’t do it to get famous, you do it to make your kids happy. And that’s the perfect end game. They aren’t making lunches to make you look stupid. There’s no hidden message that only kids can read that says “you are a terrible parent who doesn’t do what their kid wants.”
I suspect many of the articles written about the un-Pinterest parent - the ones where you show how bad your lunches look because you were too busy looking after your kid to pretty it up, are written in jest, but they’re still frustrating to watch. Surely as grownups in charge of raising tiny humans we understand that these parents face the same sick kid, kid who doesn’t sleep, kid who doesn’t eat struggles the rest of of face.
Lunchbox Dad is very openly an Oakland Athletics fan. These parents aren’t perfect and they aren’t pretending to be.
Nothing says playoff baseball quite like the arrival of October. Oh, the arrival of October AND of course, comment sections and Facebook posts that show there's still plenty of room for sexist judgement of young women who take pictures of themselves at baseball games.
You may have seen the video by now. A group of young women are seen at an Arizona Diamondbacks game taking selfies. They’re so into taking the selfies that you’d probably even look at them and think “Oh my god, they are selfie-ing so hard. It’s as if someone had asked them to take selfies literally seconds before this video was filmed.” Because they were.
But talking about that just ruins the narrative of how narcissistic teenage girls are so why in the world would anyone focus on that portion of the story?
What happened when the video got posted to the internets was entirely predictable. Everyone rushed to talk about these young women and their desire to take pictures of themselves being what's wrong with the world.
There was much discussion on how that’s not what you go to a baseball game for as if people had to sign permission forms saying they wouldn’t dare take a picture of themselves at a baseball game. That they wouldn’t disrespect a bunch of men swinging bats at balls on a grass field by daring to have fun.
Women sports fans are treated completely differently than men who are sports fans. Not part of the video were men taking pictures of themselves. Did any men take selfies at the game? I’m going to bet they did. And I’m going to bet the internet didn't race to judge them for it. Did a dad take a picture at the game holding his kid up in the air? I am also willing to bet that happened and I’m betting a picture like that would be met with “hope you had fun” and “What a good dad.”
We're still celebrating firsts for women in professional sports. First women coaches of professional men’s teams, first referees of professional men’s sports, first manager of professional men’s sports. And when we have young women taking interest in a game we gather around to tell them they’re doing it wrong.
False. They don’t owe the men in the stands who would rather mark down their game scorecard a single damn thing.
If you see that little icon of me on this page, you might assume I'm not a teenage girl. You'd be right. I have no idea what it's like to grow up as a teenage girl in 2015. I have no idea what it’s like to be at a baseball game one night and then to have a video of you having fun become fodder for the world to point out how horrible you are.
I have no idea what it’s like to be criticized for being so full of yourself that you post tens (is it hundreds, I have no idea) of pictures of your face to the internet a day looking for Likes so you can feel better about yourself. Most of the people rushing to judge these women don’t know what it’s like either. Yet they feel totally justified in vilifying them, and that’s a shame.
In a world that begs for opportunities to harp on young girls, how could one not set out to look for validation whether we think they should need it or not.
These are university students and the only thing people want to talk about is pictures. Nobody is asking to find out what they're studying, what their research is. Nobody is concerned that maybe calling a young woman a horrible human being might negatively impact the way she continues to develop going forward. Nobody gives a shit about what this might do to their self esteem.
As a parent, I can't tell you how low on my list of things my daughters shouldn't grow up to do taking selfies is. Seeing the reaction to something like this, I hope they set world record for selfies. I’ll set it with them.
Look, it's a baseball game. I know some people want to create false rules around some code that exists around desired behaviour at sporting events. That taking pictures spoils the image you have of a game where a dad holds up his son, the two of them wearing ball gloves to catch a foul ball. Teenage girls taking pictures of themselves doesn't fit your vision.
They don't have to.