Cute or Cruel?

When it comes to kids, I can mount my high horse pretty quickly. I watched a reporter who shall not be named, filling her quota of “cute kid” pieces about the beginning of school with a five-year-old entering kindergartener. She knew how to pick them. The little boy with a ready grin and chubby cheeks fit the definition of cute even without being my grandchild.

The first part of the interview was fine. Yes, this was a special day. Yes, he was going to have fun at kindergarten. At this point, I was loving the interview as I pictured his parents spending the previous days helping him anticipate the wonderful new world he would find in school and his teacher preparing an exciting place to learn.

Evidently, a happy child did not create enough drama. The reporter lowered her voice into a pseudo-sympathetic tone and asked, “Will you miss your mommy?” On her cue, he cried. Satisfied with her ploy, she wrapped up the piece. I’m sorry to say that the anchors of the show also laughed and thought it was cute that she had made him cry.

With many years of receiving the happy, the scared, the unsure, the excited, the mixture of emotions with entering kindergarteners, I’m sure that his teacher spent a good bit of the morning undoing the reporter’s damage along with calming other children who began with separation anxiety and other who joined his chorus. I’m guessing the reporter didn’t know how contagious five-year-old tears can be so I’ll refrain from adding “aiding and abetting” to her crime.  

It would have served her right to have been sentenced to spend the rest of the morning calming the children, engaging them in happy learning activities, and setting the stage for them to anticipate their return the next day. However, it would not have been fair to the kindergarteners to be have been stuck with her.

If I were in charge of the world, the reporter along with the anchors whose laughter encouraged her would have sat in time-out, one minute per year of age, or gone back to the old-fashioned punishment of having to write 100 times publicly on a chalkboard, “It is never cute to make a happy child cry.”