The New York fashionistas were buzzing about Kanye West last week, but not because of his new sneaker line for Adidas. West and his wife, Kim Kardashian, brought their 19-month-old daughter North with them to two Fashion Week shows, and, to the surprise of no parent anywhere, the toddler threw tantrums at both of them.
On Thursday, at West’s fashion week debut, North began wailing and fussing, to what appeared to be the annoyance of her neighbors, Beyoncé and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Then on Saturday, at Alexander Wang’s show, North started crying mid-show. This time rapper Nicki Minaj was caught turning away from the family, her face wearing a tight-lipped, tense expression. North calmed down after awhile, and stayed for the whole show.
A quick review of media coverage reveals two basic camps: “OMG, can you believe North’s terrible behavior?!” and/or criticism that her mom and dad thought a fashion show was an appropriate place for a toddler. But I think both of these reactions miss some important points. Though I find myself surprised to write this — because so often Kardashian and West are in the news for what I consider ridiculous reasons — I think they’re displaying some good parenting.
In almost all the photos of the tantrums, Kardashian doesn’t loose her cool. She mostly wears a smile, except when her daughter is open-mouthed and screaming — and then she looks concerned. I applaud any parent who is able to deal with a tantrum-y child with positive aplomb, as I am quickly flustered and sometimes lose my temper in those situations. What’s more, at the Valentine’s Day show, it’s not just Kardashian that’s involved. West tries playing with and making faces at his daughter to calm her down too. In short, they’re being kind, engaged parents to their fussy little girl, and that’s great to see. It is especially awesome to witness West, who is known for being temperamental and standoffish, in the role of the active dad.
I was somewhat surprised that the girl’s outburst didn’t bring more empathy on the part of fellow mother Beyoncé, but she seemed to be in the “what is a toddler doing at a fashion show” camp. Well, considering that it was her father’s big show, it seemed perfectly acceptable to me that the girl would be there. Think what you will about West’s fashion, the show was a big deal, and the family was there to celebrate. I know writers who bring their kids to their book parties, and while not every kid gets through it without losing their patience, I think everyone understands that you want to share your successes with the people you love the most.
It’s great that Kardashian and West are spending time with their daughter and not just leaving her in the hands of a nanny. They’ve made her a part of the things they love doing, which for them is attending fashion shows. I’ve been taking my 5-year-old son to museums for years now, and while he sometimes had tantrums when he was younger that required making a hasty exit, he’s now a fairly well-behaved museum-goer. He appreciates spending an hour or two looking at art or science exhibits, and I love hearing what he’s thinking about, or showing him something that excites me. Introducing your children to the things that you love at an early age is a good thing, though with toddlers it can obviously be tough. Like West and Kardashian, I experienced eye rolls and huffed sighs of annoyance in the hushed galleries of MoMA when my little guy cried, but what can you do? Life doesn’t stop when you become a parent. And if you don’t get your kids used to doing the things you love, well, then you’re going to find yourself doing those things a whole lot less.
One of the cool things about parenting is that’s it a very universal experience. Everyone with a baby knows what it’s like to lose sleep, just like every parent of a toddler has lived through tantrums. And we all are head-over-heels in love with our kid. Even celebrities known for their outlandish egos and over-the-top antics can be sources of parenting inspiration. Kardashian and West had some real parenting moments last week, and they handled it with humor and grace. That’s something any parent can relate to, and might even find inspiring.More On