By Felicity Hannah |
I’ve been holding Baby Olly tighter this week. Dozens of my friends have been taking their children to school for the first time or watching them go off to high school, and they are all asking the same bewildered question: how did their tiny babies get so big so fast?
Having seen first-hand how quickly my firstborn became a gigantic toddler, I understand the feeling. Since Harry arrived two years ago, I’ve felt like I’m caught in a sort of childhood time vortex, where months whizz by in a blur of new shoes, notches on the height chart and discarded baby toys.
Baby Olly is four and a half months now, and about three times the size of the tiny, froggy creature I gave birth to. I’m a mess of contradictions; encouraging them to the next milestone while simultaneously wishing I could keep them in my arms just a little bit longer.
It’s a feeling that every parent I know has and it’s why we all spend so much time lamely muttering clichés like: “It just goes so fast.”
And because we can’t slow down the quick-march of time, we obsessively chronicle their childhood instead. Like many other parents of small children, I take a few pictures a day on my phone.
This week I took the boys to the cinema for the first time (Harry watched a film about tank engines with an expression of almost spiritual joy and Baby Olly dozed off). First cinema trips may not be a particularly important milestone, but it felt important to me and so I had to take a picture of them sitting dwarfed in those fold-up chairs and Harry spilling popcorn over Olly’s ears.
When I’ve taken a particularly cute picture, I do what any proud parent would and post it to Facebook. But now I wonder if I should.
With the new school term starting, dozens of my friends have taken pictures of their children in their shiny new uniforms with their smart new haircuts and their proud, terrified faces, and posted them on Facebook. My newsfeed has been one long collection of photos of charming kids in brand new blazers.
I love this. I have marvelled at how smart they look, I have laughed at the witty things they have said, and I have silently wished them well.
But some of my friends are not so keen. In fact, one child-free friend recently posted that she’s sick of all the first-day-of school posts and is thinking of blocking friends with children until they turn 18. She called us ‘sharents’ – parents who share too much.
I’m a sharent
Perhaps one of the reasons this annoyed me is that I am undoubtedly a sharent myself. Oh I’m not the worst of my friends – I know one person who has actually posted up a picture of her baby’s nappy contents to ask if it’s normal (My answer was of course not – it’s never normal to publicise pictures of poo).
But I do like to share pictures of my children, funny things they’ve said, milestones they’ve reached and the occasionally sentimental gush.
And I like seeing my friends’ updates about their children; after all, I care about them and their offspring. I think parents are an easy target – everyone uses social networks to obsess about whatever matters the most to them but when it comes to kids, a lot of people are obsessing about the same thing.
I care about your cat
See, what I’ve worked out is that everyone on Facebook or Twitter has their own obsessions. They post up pictures of their partners or their cats or their cooking or their wedding plans. They add funny quotes or share news. Then they post up yet more pictures of their cats.
And just as I am delighted to see pictures of my friends’ kids getting ready for their first day at school, I like to see posts about what matters to my other friends.
Recent posts I have ‘liked’ have included news of a friend’s husband’s promotion and a photo of a friend’s cat in a cardboard castle.
Of course, I do have some sympathy for people who aren’t that interested in their friends’ children; the endless pictures of red-faced newborns, gummily grinning babies and school uniforms must seem relentless. If all my friends posted about their cats, I’d probably find the individual pictures less cute. But these friends should remember that we all have our obsessions, it’s just that theirs have more novelty.
So I will keep posting about my children, keep writing this diary and keep ‘liking’ anything to do with my friends’ kids. Except pictures of poo. That is definitely over-sharenting.
Am I being unreasonable? Do you get fed up of your friends’ baby pictures? How often do you talk about your children? Are parents boring (be nice)? Have your say in the comments below.