Huffington Post. THE Huffington Post. It’s the calling card that every blogger aspires to receive. If you are featured on the Huffington Post–you’ve arrived.
I have not been featured on HuffPost, as they say. Oh, I’ve submitted posts. I’ve tweeted them. I’m friends with HuffPost Parents on Facebook. I’ve done the sort of thing that most daddy bloggers have done, but still no bites.
So, imagine my surprise when, a few weeks ago, I received an email from a producer of “Tell Me Why…,” a video segment on HP featuring kids asking and answering questions. It read:
Well, I called Claire right away and she could not have been nicer. The premise was pretty simple. They would Skype with Hayden and talk to him about armpit farts. We didn’t even have to leave our house. I set out to convince my eight-year-old that this was a grand adventure.
First, I inquired about his talent. “Hey, do you still know how to do armpit farts?” I asked as we walked from the bus stop. He proceeded to do a lopsided chicken dance with his hand inside his armpit: (place tongue one inch outside closed lips and blow)–yeah, that sound. Feel free to make that sound for the rest of this post.
Then, my other son, Owen (9), joined in on the action. “Dad, I can do them with my knee!” And he did. Right there in the driveway. He sat down and flopped one leg in the air with his hand cupped behind his knee. “And some kids can do them with their neck,” which he then attempted, unsuccessfully.
At bedtime that night, I showed the boys some “Tell Me Why…” video clips from HuffPost.
“That’s weird,” said Hayden.
“Wouldn’t you like to be in a video like that? It would be like being on TV,” I say wide-eyed, channeling my inner Willy Wonka.
“No way,” says Hayden, scrunching his nose.
I look at his brother, Owen, who is more of a natural ham–always performing for audiences both real and imaginary. “How about you, Owen? Would you do it?”
“Maybe,” he says. And I think I can convince him. I don’t push too hard, for fear I might lose. I’ll continue to goad tomorrow, I think.
I come downstairs after putting the boys to bed.
“Honey,” my wife says, “this is so exciting! The Huffington Post…” and she doesn’t even know how to classify it. It is then that I reveal my trepidation. “Yeah, I’m not sure. Is this really how I want to be recognized by Huff Post?”
I think about how I’ve been trying to work over the boys, to enlist them in my quest for publication. Then, I think about how this really has so little to do with me, or my blog, or what I’m attempting to do as I tap away at this keyboard, putting words down to capture my experiences.
And that’s just it. This is not MY experience. This is my son’s experience. And even though I am proud of the collection I have captured on this blog for three years, a sinking feeling begins in my stomach. These boys are no longer toddlers, they are not cute props, but individuals. My boys, and my blog, are changing, and I need to be more mindful of their rights, their boundaries. As they get older, I am feeling I have less of a right to tell their story, as they are telling more of their own.
I am embarrassed. I feel a bit ashamed that I am trying to pimp out my son’s penchant for all things fart on a national platform. I envision a video feed popping up years from now, when one of the boys is running for president of a class or the country:), a video of them demonstrating the art of armpit farts on the Huffington Post. A video that went viral, that has more hits than Grumpy Cat or “delirious boy riding home from the dentist” combined…
I resolve not to push my boys to do this. If they’re not interested, then it’s not happening. This is their decision. This is THEIR life.
“I’ll pay you,” I say, desperately.
“What?!” says Owen. Yes, Owen. I’ve decided to put the full court press on him. There’s no way Hayden would do it. I’ll see if Claire would be cool with Owen filling in for him, even though it was Hayden’s drawing.
“I will pay you. Twenty dollars to do the segment.”
“Yep. But once I call this lady, you can’t back out.”
I don’t even recognize myself. I smell the desperation in my plea. Inside, I’m panicking–but what if this is my only shot? What if this leads to more features on Huffington Post? A spot on the Today show. A three book deal with movie tie-ins. Happy Meal toys of the family Grinch…
My thoughts whirl. I’m such a sell-out.
I give him a few hours to think about it–to spend the money in his head.
After dinner, I try to mask my eagerness. “So, what do you think, buddy? Will you do it?”
“Nah,” he says.
And with that, the wind is let out of my sails. I am deflated. For one brief shining moment, there was Armpit-fart-alot.
But, truth be told, I was also relieved. If my quest for a gig with HuffPost had already made me act like this, I could just imagine what I would have been like during the actual interview.
I call Claire and let her know that the Trainers are a no-fart for her upcoming segment. Again, I am struck by how nice and approachable she is. For her, it’s just another day producing for one of America’s largest news outlets. But for me, it’s the silencing of the knock of opportunity.
Yet, in the end, I was relieved. One of the primary goals of my blog is to make sense of my world in a way that makes me a better father. I want to understand my past and make sense of my present, so that my family will have a better future. I want my boys to be proud of me and what I have created. What I will continue to create–for me, for them, for us.