The Toddler and the Toothpaste

There are many things parents do or have done that we wish would not have happened, primarily because of the embarrassment that these things can cause.

The peak time for this embarrassment involves adolescence; because it is then that we are forging our identities and doing things like going out on dates. Sometimes the embarrassment is minor, say disclosure of some childhood secret by the parents to a potential boyfriend or girlfriend at that dreaded “bring your date to dinner at home” deal.

The sins are exacerbated when visual aids are introduced. Bare babies on bearskins were highly popular at one time and cause for a lot of embarrassment.

There are worse things. I have friends who during a dinner, when showing all the family treasures in a cigar box, produced the metal dilator that their son wore as an infant. I never asked if they started showing that around to his girlfriends.

No matter the parentally-inflicted embarrassment, it appears that none of it stings much once the mating and dating period is done with, and it all becomes the topic of polite and laugh-filled banter at family gatherings in later years.

Today, however, there are unprecedented avenues for parents to travel in the embarrassment department. Videos and still photos document every step of a child’s development before he or she is old enough to self inflict, through the ubiquitous art of the selfie. So yes, before the selfie there is the parentie. And there are plenty of places for these things to live forever, like Facebook. The flip side is that the digital universe has its own developing protocols that can make for a lot of parental frustration, when all the parent wanted to do was share a moment too cute to leave alone.

Stephen Hood of Houma can tell you all about this. A technical writer in the oil and gas industry, Stephen is the proud father of a little girl named Juliette, and she is cute as cute can be.

One night not so long ago, Juliette, who is 3-years-old, was preparing for bed and taking care of her oral hygiene regimen, by herself for the very first time. Stephen captured the moment for posterity. The video shows the toddler, clad in PJ bottoms, doing just about anything but brushing. She was far too busy taking the contents of a toothpaste tube and smearing them directly around the inside of her mouth, doubtless intrigued for her entire teeth-brushing career by the minty sweetness but only then able to do with it what she wished.

“I thought it was adorable honestly, and thought that her other family members would enjoy seeing it,” said Stephen, who began recording when his little girl asked him to leave the room – namely because she wished to be free to act on her toothpaste plan.

The short video was posted on Facebook, viewable only by friends so far as Stephen knew.

And then came the slap-down.

“I received a notification from Facebook stating that someone had reported my video because of nudity,” Stephen said. “I was given the option to remove the video or have Facebook review it.”

There had been other complaints of pictures of Juliette in underwear, so Stephen decided the better choice was to acquiesce.

“Her Grammy and PawPaw expressed disappointment when I removed the video,” Stephen said.

So now he is combing his friends list, trying to determine who might have made the complaint, convinced, as he stated on his page, that whoever it was may have some very dark and twisted personality aspect.

That could be.

Juliette doesn’t have her own Facebook page, so it wasn’t her trying to derail a future embarrassing moment.

But that would be futile anyhow, since Daddy has the video.

And that being the case we can only hope that parental possession of video showing a toddler clad only in pajama bottoms isn’t yet the subject of scrutiny by forces far more powerful and insidious than Facebook.

In this brave new digital world we can only surmise that the worst is one day yet to come.