This past May, the internet went crazy over a funny picture of President Obama and a toddler throwing a tantrum in the White House. It’s a hysterical (and somewhat embarrassing) thing to get internet-famous for: Having your 2-year-old throw themselves in a fit of rage at Obama’s feet.
That mom is Laura Moser, wife of a campaign staffer, who recently shed light on the infamous day at Slate. In her essay, she recounts the moments before they left the White House for their annual Passover seder, when 2-year-old Claudia just didn’t want to be in her dress anymore:
“‘I take off my shoes,’ she told me.
‘No, sweetie, not right now.’
‘I take off my dress,’ she suggested next.
‘Claudia, if you could just wait one second—’
‘I wear a sheet-dress.’
‘I’m so sorry, sweet girl, but we didn’t bring any sheets tonight!’
I mean, let’s be real. This sounds pretty much identical to any toddler tantrum. I guess most parents just don’t often get to see Obama while this happens (and probably relieved that this is the case). It just so happened that the official White House photographer, Pete Souza, snapped a picture of the event.
When Moser ended up posting the photo on Facebook (later shared on Twitter by her brother), she claims she didn’t anticipate all of the crazed interest. By the end of the day, the photo had 1 million views. What struck a cord, however unsurprisingly, is the fact that many commentors immediately shamed Moser:
“But if the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that crazy people have a great deal of free time on their hands. And I was shocked by what they read into the picture. They saw my political beliefs and the pride I took in my inability to raise a child. (“The ‘she’s just a kid’ excuses are the excuses liberal parents make for their lack of parenting skills.”) They saw my income and my ethnic background: I was a “wealthy Jewish donor”—don’t I wish!—and my daughter a spoiled brat: “She doesn’t act like the sort of child that has ever heard the word ‘No’ let alone felt anything other than expensive clothes on her backside.” One commenter recommended thyroid medication to bring my daughter back in balance, but no one said a word about fitted sheets.”
What is it about the internet that allows people to feel comfortable judging and shaming others so easily, and without a second thought to the fact that there is another human behind the screen? In this case, it’s a mom just trying to do her best. It’s one thing to share an opinion, and it’s another to completely tear someone down.
And really, if the President didn’t get offended over a toddler’s tantrum (because how can you really?), then it’s probably not that big of a deal. Plus, we know he’s dealt with his own parenting woes–currently, he’s dealing with his daughters growing up, stating for The Huffington Post:
“The golden age is between, say, 6, 7, and 12, and they’re your buddies and they just want to hang out. And after that, they will love you, but they don’t have that much time for you.”
Honestly, though, we just can’t help but imagine how this whole debacle provides a great conversation starter for Claudia when she’s older.