Think about all the photos you've taken of your kid since they were born. There are gobs of them, aren't there? And I'm going to bet there are at least a few in there that are a little on the embarrassing side ... or will be once they start to bring friends home who are old enough to examine what's on your walls instead of having to be watched like a hawk lest they use a crayon on one of them.
We are there my friends. Kiddo is 6, and on a recent play date, she came running to me, wailing, "McKayla is looking at my butt!"
I was confused. She was wearing a pair of jeans, and there wasn't a speck of dirt on them (amazing considering the crafty feats these two had been up to). What the heck was this kid looking at? And then I peeked in the living room. Where the aforementioned McKayla was giggling at a photo I shot years ago when kiddo was a teeny thing who had stripped down on a hot summer day to help Daddy wash the car.
It's actually one of two "butt shots" if you will on the walls of my house (I'm a photographer on the side). The photos are innocent and sweet -- think the Coppertone baby or something from Anne Geddes. They're hung with pride.
Until that play date, my daughter never made mention of them. She wasn't embarrassed or proud. She was more or less oblivious. Now, suddenly, she's uncomfortable.
And as her mom, I'm uncomfortable with her discomfort. I'm aware that embarrassing the kids is a parent's prerogative. My parents did it. I survived. I've even laughed along with friends when they've talked about some photo they just know they'll have to pull out when their kid brings home the first serious girlfriend or boyfriend (usually a tub is involved, and a buddy from babyhood -- someone is always naked). But there's embarrassing your kids and then there's torturing your kids.
I vaguely remember a photo from my particularly awkward teenage years that I asked my mother to destroy, only to discover she'd passed it on to her own mother. As a teen girl who would later turn to bulimia to counter my discomfort with my body, to use the word "mortified" is putting it lightly. I remember hot tears streaming down my face out of sheer helplessness. It's a feeling I wouldn't wish on anyone, and certainly not my little girl.
I should note that my daughter isn't at that point. She's a 6-year-old girl who was mildly annoyed with her friend giggling. And while I looked like a buffoon in that teenage photo, the arty shots on my walls are more of the "aww, how sweet" variety. But she deserves to feel as safe and secure in her own home as possible, and if a photo of her baby self makes her uncomfortable, that's not really fair, is it? Just so I can get some laughs in?
At the very least, the gorgeous print I had blown up and stretched on canvas at significant expense could be pulled down every time we have visitors ... at least until she's old enough to bring home friends who don't think a baby hiney is hilarious. Hopefully by then she'll be able to see the pictures for the sign of pride they are. Hopefully.
What's the right age for this kind of thing? Will you hide your kids' embarrassing photos at some stage?
Image via Beret Nearing