Horrible Kids, Horrible Parents?

So a couple of days ago, a gallery owner named Stephanie Theodore posted this picture of a kid climbing all over a Donald Judd exhibit (never heard of him but I know nothing about art). To give you context, this was a 10 million dollar art exhibit. Her photo came with the caption, “Horrible Kids, horrible parents.” Stephanie went on to tweet that when she alerted the parents that their youngster was using a 10 million dollar exhibit as their own personal jungle gym, the parents responded with, “you know nothing about kids.”


It went a bit viral and was written up on Gawker where most people weighed in that those parents are indeed horrible. I’m not 100% sure. Well, I’m pretty sure but still I got a funny (sort of guilty?) feeling about it when I read the story. This is possibly because I have been the parent shamed for similar transgressions. Hold on, before you totally judge, it wasn’t a 10 million dollar exhibit, but more like knick knacks in a Tuesday Morning store. (Tuesday Morning stores specialize in name-brand closeout merchandise and not 10 million dollar hoity-toity art but, hey, shame is shame right?) What I’m saying is that I’ve been on the receiving end of some testy stares when my kids ran amok, and it is the worst feeling.

I’m only stating this to explain why the story inspires a mixed reaction in me, though, I am not defending the parents. First off, mistake number one was taking a little kid to an art exhibit. If I can’t appreciate that this is anything more than an IKEA shelving unit, how is a toddler supposed to make that distinction? Toddlers get very bored, very easily. I don’t think this is the kid’s fault. The kid is not “horrible,” the kid is being a kid. This is what kids do. So to that extent, the parents are correct in their assertion that Stephanie Theodore knows nothing about kids.

Kids will take two bites of ice cream and then get distracted by a crack in the ceiling and feel the need to get up and go investigate only to come back twenty minutes later to find their ice cream is now soup. So if you can’t get a kid to stay focused on dessert, how the hell are you going to get them to appreciate an art exhibit?

I guess what I’m saying is, sure a parent should “control” their kids and not let them climb all over a 10 million dollar art installation, but the kids should remain blameless. There are plenty of museums where kids are welcome, and it’s expected that they are more likely to kick things than sketch them. And yes, we should still try to make sure they are being respectful (I draw the line at my kids doing graffiti — you almost have to) but let’s not get crazy.

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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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