The morning after my surgery, I caught a glimpse on the news of the tragedy unfolding across the world in Manchester. Still groggy and in increasing pain, I headed home to begin recovering in my own bed. After a little nap I woke to messages on nearly every social channel that Gemma’s photo was circulating as one of the missing children after the bombing. There she was on the front page of The Daily Mail and in a collage retweeted over 20,000 times despite being safe and sound at high school in Australia.
I shared with my Facebook page that she was fine and that our hearts were with the real victims. News agencies picked that up and I was then fielding requests for interviews from everyone… I politely declined as I felt word of the misinformation was out and it was time to focus on the people who needed comfort and help.
Of course then I was chastised for my reckless parenting decision and or naivety in allowing my children to be pictured online in the first place. These trolls couching their disdainful and arrogant opinion as concern is nothing new to me. And I stand firm in my resolve that we as parents (because this is a family decision) are doing nothing to put our children in anymore harm’s way than we were to allow Gemma to attend her first concert last March. Living in public and allowing our children to be seen as they live their full lives is not negligence. Just as those who go out in public and are lost to the deliberate act of an evil person, I feel like the blame for the taking of a photo that does not belong to you is solely at the feet of the person doing the wrong thing. We don’t live our life making decisions based on fear. If your level of comfort differs from ours, we respect your decision for your family and will not shame you for it. In fact, your decision for your family’s safety has no impact on my life…just as your opinion of my parenting.
People asked how Gemma felt about the incident and she said “I am not embarrassed. I didn’t do anything wrong. Some people share photos and some are more private. Who cares about that, can’t we focus on the people who actually lost loved ones?”
So trolls, I’m pretty confident that I am raising good human beings who don’t feel ashamed for living their lives and don’t force their opinions on others. They are not in any more danger for having a curated presence online than if they didn’t.
And while all this was happening, I was trying to recover from abdominal surgery and not think about the pathology results pending from the biopsies taken. But as I safely delivered my children to school this morning with their homemade lunches containing fruit, vegetables and a treat (omg, I’m so bloody RECKLESS AT PARENTING) I got the call.
Not cancer. And I giggled and felt like dancing the rest of the way and Kieran asked why I was so happy. I told him and both he and Clover asked, “You could have had cancer? You were worried?” With that I knew that I protect my children just fine, thankyouverymuch.