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Monday, June 1, 2015

Backseat parenting at its worst

This video has been going around and it's very popular, having been viewed nearly 10 million times at this point.

It is the private moment of a boy who looks to be about nine years old, totally freaking the fuck out.

His seatbelt is off, he's screaming and kicking, repeating "I don't want to go". Meanwhile, his mother is driving on, as calmly as they can. It sounds, in the video, as if she says at one point that they are going to therapy.

The video itself is a mess, an affront to individual privacy of a family, or more a child (since the passenger in the vehicle recorded it, and then the mother laughs about it being uploaded...which it then was).

On one level, I understand the taking of the video. My kids can freak out like that (although not often, thank God). But I've had them throw themselves off doctor's cots and split their knees open in a clinic setting while screaming their heads off in a tantrum. I've had to cancel Halloween. I certainly am no stranger to getting my back kicked in when my children are at their worst and we're driving somewhere. They are always strapped in, though. I will stop the damn car and yell at them until they buckle those belts back up. But can I judge someone else for not doing that? Maybe she just couldn't anymore. I don't know her life. My kids once OPENED the door as we were driving, and when I locked them again, they unlocked them to attempt to do it again before they used the brains in their heads and freaking stopped that nonsense.

The point is, I consider my kids to be neurotypical if incredibly spirited. I might be wrong. Time will tell, but as far as being able to function on a daily basis, they do just fine. But they can throw a tantrum like the one in this video at the drop of a hat.

Would I want 10 million internet strangers telling me to spank, whup, or crack my kids' asses? Nope. Would I want them talking about what a horrible parent I was and what a merciless brat I'd raised? Nope. Would I want to be the catalyst for 10 million huge jerks to wax poetic about how they were raised...on the end of a wooden spoon? Definitely not.

This mother was not setting herself for a crash course in internet troll parenting, and yet, with the video uploaded and shared, what else could have possibly happened? That is a family at its lowest moment. And so, the child aside, I would beg everyone just sit the fuck down. Not your monkey. Not your circus.

Now let's get to the main point of this post, though, and that is that this child's privacy has been violated for life. What was a 10-minute lapse of judgement on his part (assuming he is neurotypical), or a flare up of a condition over which he has no control, is now an unending stream of video which will follow him when he's 12, 16, 25, 50. That video is forever. And so are the comments ridiculing him, mocking him, and criticizing him. Is that an appropriate punishment for his behavior?


Is that an appropriate punishment for ANY behavior?


So a couple take-home messages here:

To the parents of that child: Never, ever, ever upload videos like that of your children. You never know what is going to go viral. So many times only your closest friends and confidantes take a look, but then there are times like this, when the internet catches on and spreads it around as if it were not your living, breathing child on the screen. As if it were not your parenting choices on display in public. As if you were two-dimensional, fictional creatures. But you are not, and he is not. Think twice.

To the internet commenters: Shut up. You don't know their life. Yes, that belt absolutely should have been strapped. Any other comment you have about beating children or what a brat the child is? Save it. You do not know what is going on there. You don't know what that child or those parents are actually dealing with. You've seen 90 seconds of someone's worst. If you really have to feel superior about that, you are a small, sad person.

To the child: I am so sorry. Most likely this will get buried in the Internet archives and no one will dig it up when you're applying to colleges. Anyway, calming down would be rad, but if you can't or you just didn't that one time, no biggie. All we can do is try again, right? Tomorrow is another day, no matter what the internet says.

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