Monday, July 24, 2006

It's so easy

(Torture by Jill Greenberg)
Oh, a lot of people are upset that Jill Greenberg's awesome photo exhibition made some kids cry.

Yeah, apparently a whole lot of people are getting really worked up about the technique she used to get pictures similar to the one above from her young models.

Get this. During the photo shoots, she gave the kids a lollipop, then took it away, and then she took some pictures for about 35-40 seconds, then gave them back the lollipop.

And for this she's been called a "Sick Woman Who Should Be Arrested and Charged With Child Abuse" by

Look, forget that this is a technique used in television shows and commercials and motion pictures since there have been those things; taking candy away from a baby has been one of the top ten good-time activities since the invention of candy.

This last Saturday night, there was a kid running around a restaurant where I was eating. The kid was yelling loudly, and trying to amuse himself by running up and jumping down some steps in the dining room. His mother sat ten feet away, pretending not to notice. The staff was extremely uncomfortable about the possibility that the child might fall while jumping.

Because if he did, I guarantee you that the parents would have sued the restaurant for "unsafe brat conditions."

Anyway, as we tried to ignore the yelling and the jumping and eat our food, Spooney said "I hope he doesn't fall."

I said, "I hope he does."

And I meant it. The little shit. And I hope his bitch mom with the passive-aggressive parenting skills falls, too. Fuck her and all the selfish parents who won't fucking discipline their kids. I'm sick of it.

When you take your child out to non-Chuck E. Cheese-type dining establishments, and they start to run around screaming, or throw food, or otherwise make all the other patrons and staff completely fucking miserable, here's what you do: you say to your spawn "Either behave, or we will leave." And then, when they don't behave, you fucking leave!

Yes, that's right. You follow through on your fucking threat. You don't tell them 5o more fucking times to behave. You teach them that you mean what you say.

But no, it seems too many parents today are too selfish to deprive themselves in the interest of raising a well-behaved child. They don't want to go home. They want to be waited on for a change, and have the restaurant staff clean up after their kids for a change, and make damn sure everyone else knows just exactly what they put up with all damn day for a change.

So, what does this have to do with taking candy away from some tiny professional toddler models? Okay, nothing.

But if I'd had a lollipop with me Saturday night, I would have given it to the little brat and then taken it away about 100 times, or until I was arrested or otherwise made to stop.

And it wouldn't have been for any artistic acheivement or monetary gain, either.

It would have been for the sheer fun of it.


SJ said...

I fucking love that photo.

I will have to add (as a parent of children who are at times deranged in public spaces) that just because the mother was ignoring the obnoxious kid doesn't mean there is no discipline in her house.

My kids receive regular beatings (theoretically speaking, no emails, please) and STILL want to run and jump in any and all eating establishments. Oh, they want to scream and fight, too. And throw sugar packets and bump into young couples enjoying a quiet meal. They're fucking nuts by the simple fact that they are children under the age of 10, and there are times they DO NOT CARE WHAT WE HAVE TO SAY.

And oh, yes, we've actually left restaurants before, in order to do the follow-through thing that Dr. Phil says is so important, because we know that it IS important. But the little, attention span of a gnat children STILL DO NOT CARE.

Look at me, a shining example of someone who once said THE EXACT WORDS THAT YOU JUST WROTE, AS GOD AS MY WITNESS (ask ANYONE who knew me 15 years ago, go 'head). And I, the strict, strict disciplinarian, my husband, the firm hand, we the 'teach manners and respect of others' couple, yes, we have no control over these fucking beasts more often than not.

Just sayin.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Child abuse? What is wrong with those people?! Doesn't the phrase, like taking candy from a baby mean anything these days?!

vikkitikkitavi said...

SJ: I understand what you're saying, I really do. I have some experience of my own to draw on.

I used to work as a nanny, and believe me, I know what it's like to have to deal with a meltdown in a public place.

I think the difference is, that parents seem to consider their own desire to enjoy eating in a particular restaurant, for example, to be above the public's desire not to have to endure the disturbances their children create.

When my charges would scream and freak out, I was so mortified that I was disturbing others, that I would either get them under control, or I would whisk them away as fast as I could. I considered that part of the deal.

I can't remember the last time I saw a parent remove a shrieking or crazed child from a store or restaurant. They just sit there, ignoring everyone's death stares.

I hate to be one of those "in my day..." kind of people, but I think attitudes in this area HAVE changed, and we need to change them back as far as I'm concerned.

GkristiL: I'm sayin'

SJ said...

One thing about shrieking, crazed children: they can smell fear. Trying to remain calm is the only option. (ha, I even laugh at this myself)

We've simply learned that it is NO FUN to take our children out in public, so it's rare that we do.

david said...

A really smart coffee shop owner in Chicago put up a sign politely asking neglectful moms of noisy brats to consider going elsewhere. All hell broke loose.

Here's the link to the NYT story:

vikkitikkitavi said...

Great story, David. You know, it's not that I don't have any sympathy for these parents (almost all women in this story, of course) but I think that, like I said, there has been a shift in the thinking of how we regard a public space. The cell phone thing goes to that too. But maybe I should just let their quotes make my point for me:

"I love people who don't have children who tell you how to parent," said Alison Miller, 35, a psychologist, corporate coach and mother of two. "I'd love for him to be responsible for three children for the next year and see if he can control the volume of their voices every minute of the day."

>>Classic overcompensation from the psychologist.

"The looks I would get when I went in there made me so nervous that I would try to buy the food as fast as I could and get out," said Laura Brauer, 40, who has stopped visiting A Taste of Heaven with her two children. "I think that the mothers who allow their kids to run around and scream, that's wrong, but kids scream and there is nothing you can do about it. What are we supposed to do, not enjoy ourselves at a cafe?"

>>Yes, that is what you're supposed to do: make sacrifices for your children.

"We left, and we haven't been back since," Ms. Cavitt said. "You go to a coffee shop or a bakery for a rest, to relax, and that you would have to worry the whole time about your child doing something that children do - really what they're saying is they don't welcome children, they want the child to behave like an adult."

>>Personally, I would never say that, because adults generally behave abominally as well. What I do say is that children should not disruptive of business in a place of business.

david said...

That's why I love the fact that the coffee shop's sign said "Children of all ages..."

But I guess that was lost on the parents, who do sound awfully martyred in their quotes.

SJ said...

My favorite sign in a coffee shop is this:

"All unattended children will be given a shot of espresso and a free puppy."

vikkitikkitavi said...

SJ: Wheeeee!!!! Even I would like THAT!!!

David: I can't stop thinking about this quote: "What are we supposed to do, not enjoy ourselves at a cafe?"

Lady, your kids don't want to hang around a COFFEESHOP with you. That's not how they enjoy themselves. That's what YOU want to do.

Does she really not get that?

david said...

I know. Stunning. No concept of that fact: **you don't get to enjoy yourself at other peoples' expense. And PS: your kid is one of those people.**

They have cell-phone free cars in commuter trains now: how about expressly kid-friendly coffee shops, with toys and shit, so both the Mom and the kid can have fun, without torturing the innocent?

david said...

Oops. Never mind. The article mentions that a couple of shop and restaurant owners tried that -- and got threatened with lawsuits (wha'?!!!)

Spooney said...

I can't stop thinking about this quote: "What are we supposed to do, not enjoy ourselves at a cafe?"

Yeah, your the one who decided to have the little bastards. Why should we suffer.

Spooney said...

I meant you're

vikkitikkitavi said...

David: Yeah, no "separate but equal" doctrine here, buddy.

Spooney: If you wish to represent yourself as an adult, you're going to have to spell and punctuate, buddy. Sorry, no exceptions.

Spooney said...

No fun

dad said...

As a skier who has to stand in liftline that little brags try to crowd into, I am very outspoken to them. And if they are not paying attention when their turn comes, I will yell at them to pay attention, there are others behind you. When parents are present in the supermarket or elsewhere, sometimes I will talk to them (pleasantly) along the line of "your mother would like you to stop acting that way because it is embarrassing her, so please be nice." Many times the parent is thankful and when someone else gets down and looks them in the eye, it helps, AND the parent gets the message that others are being disturbed.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Dad, I'm sure when a handsome older gentleman speaks to a child, even to gently reprimand, the mom is much more likely to react positively than when some interfering bitch tries to do it.

I did A LOT of children's theatre, if you recall, and I'm actually pretty good at engaging children and getting them to do things by distracting or reasoning with them. And of course it's frequently easier for a stranger to do that than a parent, because kids are usually curious. However, I've yet to have a mom react positively to me, no matter how positive my interaction with their children. All I ever get is the defensive glare.

I think it's a gender thing. A man speaking to your child is not necessarily an afront to your mom skills, whereas when a woman does it, it is.

Butchieboy said...

My kid makes that face at me. I hate it. It's always accompanied by something along the lines of "Daddeeeeeeeeeee! Fruit snaaaaaacks!"

dad said...

Older and handsome gosh. My suggestion is just another arrow in the quiver, but the point is to try to sympathize with the parent while talking to the kid. Its less possibility for defensiveness and it doesn't work all the time for sure.

Anonymous said...

For any of you interested in Jill Greenberg's work, I am selling one of her Monkey Portraits on eBay. You can check it out at:

(as an aside, I am not selling it b/c of the controversy)

Coaster Punchman said...

I do feel bad for these parents. They are lazy, which I appreciate and understand, since I also am lazy. Unfortunately, unlike me, these parents did not use their laziness as an excuse not to have children. And now they are stuck. They made their beds and will have to lie in them. Suckers!

I'm so glad I will never have to forego a cocktail in order to discipline a screaming brat.