Saturday, 12 April 2014

Why my daughter is crying ... and why I won't be posting pictures of it

She woke up.

I turned off Youtube.

Another child was using the swing she had decided she'd had enough of two minutes ago.

I turned off the TV.

She banged her foot.

The singing fish at a friend's house was singing.

I pretended to unsuccessfully pull my nose off.

I couldn't fix the crayon she broke.

These are a few of the reasons Eleanor has cried over the past couple of days. Some of them – banging her foot, and, arguably, the singing fish – were fairly legitimate. Heck, I feel like crying when I wake up sometimes. Others are a bit more out there, and therefore amusing to us adults, with our fully developed brains.

About a year ago I first saw that website, 'Reasons My Son Is Crying'. Yes, I chuckled at some of those reasons. But it didn't sit comfortably with me. While other people found it funny, I was picturing the scene: a child in great distress, looking to their parent for comfort, while their parent whips out their camera to take a picture before attempting to console their child. "Oh you're crying – right, hold that thought – where's my phone – that's it, keep crying, keep crying – Aaand – done. Aww, do you want a hug?"

I do sometimes make light of the reasons why Eleanor cries. Because they can be pretty ridiculous to my grown up eyes. But I try not make fun of those reasons in front of her, and I would certainly never stop to take a picture of her tears before comforting her then post it online.

If you think I'm being over-sensitive about this, just think about how you'd feel if the person you loved most in the world, who you felt most secure with, took a picture of you crying and put it online. Does that sound nice? No, it doesn't, does it? I'd much prefer a hug in those circumstances.

We all cry from time to time. Toddlers cry a lot because they haven't learnt emotional self-regulation yet, and because this big wide world is pretty confusing when you've only been in it a couple of years and don't understand all the rules yet. While a wry chuckle after the event can help a parent cope with the irrational tantrums, I really don't think we should be withholding comfort and mocking these poor kids online.

And, just to point out, toddlers don't have a monopoly on irrational crying. Here are a few reasons I've cried over the past few days (I should point out I'm ill and a bit stressed out, I don't cry this much normally!):

An unanswered e-mail.

Eleanor bouncing on the bed for 20 minutes when I needed to change her nappy.

'One Born Every Minute'.

Peaches Geldof's last column for 'Mother and Baby'.

Eleanor taking an hour and a half to go to sleep.

In isolation, these reasons seem pretty irrational. But other stuff was going on, and these things were the last straw. I imagine it's very often the same for children.


And if anyone had taken a picture of me in those moments, they'd have risked not having an operative camera thirty seconds later!!

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this! I'm glad I'm bit the only one who finds this trend disturbing. Yes, children often cry for what seems to be a silly reason but it's not silly to them! As you say, the world's a confusing place to a child and it can be overwhelming. Anyone who takes photos of their distressed child instead of comforting them is being cruel.

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    1. The more I think about it, the more upsetting it is. Society seems to be intent on treating children as some kind of Other, as if us adults never passed through childhood! We are becoming very anti-child as a culture, and this trend is the latest manifestation of that. How can we teach children to respect other people's emotions if we're not prepared to respect theirs?

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