I posted a picture of my three-year-old crying on my blog Facebook page. I was venting. I gave her three different sliced bananas, all sliced different ways. She asked me to put them back together at one point, but ultimately she refused each of them. Naturally there’s a little more to it, but it was all typical toddler behavior. You get the idea. All together the post was less than 100 words.
Before long, the comment section went off the rails and people began telling me that this is why children nowadays are brats. I was told that I needed to be the parent and stop letting my three-year boss me around, as if the first step in failure isn’t arguing with a three-year-old. People tried to psychoanalyze the situation, going off on tangents about how it’s all a control dynamic, as if they were actually qualified to make that diagnosis biased on a handful of sentences and a slightly blurry picture of my daughter crying in a church dress.
All together this very short post had hundreds of comments, and the majority of them were critical of me as a parent. One woman even told me I shouldn’t have had children. Then she called me a “pussy” and a “bitch,” got in an argument with five other parents, and I eventually had to ban her from my page.
If you don’t find all of this to bananas (pardon the pun), then you might be part of the problem.
I’ve been writing online for a number of years now, and during that time I’ve been told that I’m ruining my child because of princess dresses, video games, dishes in the sink, our backyard trampoline, taking them to the park, using car carts at the grocery store, giving my children cookies at the grocery store bakery for behaving at the store, using a toddler leash (just trying to keep her safe), and how many bananas I give them. And the sad fact is, any parent on social media (writer or not) has been faced with some parental criticism over something completely asinine. (I can feel you all nodding your heads as you read this.)
While I think it’s important to take parenting seriously, there are times like Banana Gate 2018, when I’d like for all of us to take a deep breath, and put down our pitchforks.
Because here’s the thing: I can say with confidence that few adults can trace their problems with authority back to sliced bananas. No one was ever turned away from a university and when they reflected back on what went wrong, they realized it was because their parents were too accommodating when they were three. And no one has ever been before a judge, and when the conviction came down, they mentioned how their parents allowed them to sit in the car cart while grocery shopping, and suddenly the horrendous crime they were charged with was downgraded.
There are elements of parenting that deserve online criticism. Last year, for example, the parents behind the DaddyOFive parenting YouTube channel were charged with neglect after posting videos of them verbally abusing their children in exchange for views. I watched some of those videos. These parents were up to no good, and folks united to put a stop to it.
But bananas? No. The reality is, three-year-olds are difficult regardless.
Listen, parents just can’t put their foot down over everything. They can’t fight every battle, so they pick the ones worth fighting. And if someone — blogger, friend, or family — posts something about struggling to get their 3-year-old to eat bananas, or something comparably trivial, lower your stress level, and theirs, and simply realize that they don’t need advice. They need someone to laugh with about the shared struggle of parenting. Plain and simple. Nothing more.
Let’s be a village, people. Let’s not sweat the small stuff. Let’s laugh a little more, and criticize a little less. And above all, support each other instead of making mountains out of sliced bananas.