Saturday, December 9, 2017

Why would you do this to your son?

Birthday parties and cake-smeared faces. Bath time. Halloween candy pig-outs.

On social media you'll see any number of posts featuring friends showing off their cute (and often not-so-cute) children.

We've seen YouTubers with massive vlogs where their children's daily lives are exposed for the entirety of the world to see.
Vox has of course warned against doing this, though many still fall prey to the temptation to show off our families. It's natural to take pride in our kids, but frankly, it's stupid to put their lives on the internet.

And not just because of predators and perverts.

Consider the case of Christopher Robin, the son of Winnie The Pooh creator A. A. Milne:

Christopher Robin was based upon the author A. A. Milne's own son, Christopher Robin Milne, who in later life became unhappy with the use of his name. Christopher Milne wrote in one of a series of autobiographical works: "It seemed to me almost that my father had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and left me nothing but empty fame". One of the poems, Vespers – which describes young Christopher Robin saying his evening prayers – was said by Christopher Milne as "the one work that has brought me over the years more toe-curling, fist-clenching, lip-biting embarrassment than any other."

I've read the Pooh series to my own children. It's charming and clever. Millions of readers have enjoyed the adventures of Christopher Robin in the Hundred Acre Woods with his friends Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and others.

Milne entertained the world - yet the price was his own son.

One interview from 1980 encapsulates the broken life of Christopher Robin Milne at age 60, still seeking to escape his past:


Later in the same interview Milne states:


“I hadn’t been trained for anything,” he said. “My name was famous all over the world but it made me miserable to be pointed out as the son of my father. I wanted to escape from fame and from ‘Christopher Robin.’ We ran away from London and the bookshop we opened was a success. We have been happy here, even if it did mean wrapping up those four books for our customers.”

Those four books are the Winnie the Pooh series.

Remember too, that Christopher Robin's life took place in large part before the existence of the internet. Chances are he could still go out to dinner without being recognized.

Imagine how the children of today's vloggers will fare.

Is the gratification you get from posting pictures of Timmy and Sue on Facebook "so Grammy can see!" worth the potential loss of a relationship with your child later on?

Christopher Robin ended up estranged from both his father and mother. Unlike his dad's stories, there is no happy ending here. According to Infogalactic:

[Christopher Robin] Milne (...) died in his sleep on 20 April 1996. He was seventy-five years old. After his death he was described by one newspaper as a "dedicated atheist."

When you can't trust your visible earthly father to protect you from the world, why trust an invisible Heavenly Father to preserve you in the next one?

7 comments:

Dexter said...

There are a lot of great young adult books which the author says were written FOR their sons (e.g. Rangers Apprentice series, Rick Riordan books). Writing books ABOUT your son is basically child abuse.

Jesus that Vespers poem is cringeworthy.

pdwalker said...

Thank you for picking this up.

Al From Bay Shore said...

I appreciate you for picking this up. I'm a Winnie The Pooh fan and I learned something new. Thanx!

rumpole5 said...

Although I was supplied with plenty of children's books, I never read any of the Christopher Robin series. It was therefore a mystery to me why, as a boy, my grandfather's second wife always called me "Christopher Robin" (my first name is Chris). It wasn't until I was in college that a girlfriend informed me of the series.

RofflesLowell said...

Yikes. Poor bastard. He's not the only one.

On Dennis "The Menace" Ketcham, per Infogalactic:

The real-life Dennis was 12 in 1959 when his mother died of a drug overdose. Mr. Ketcham took the boy to live with him in Geneva, where he spent some 20 years before moving back to California in 1977. But Dennis had difficulty with his schooling and was sent to boarding school in Connecticut while Mr. Ketcham remained in Switzerland with his second wife, the former Jo Anne Stevens. The marriage ended in divorce. Dennis Ketcham served in Vietnam, suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and had little contact with his father. "He's living in the East somewhere doing his own thing," Mr. Ketcham said in March. "That's just a chapter that was a short one that closed, which unfortunately happens in some families."

papabear said...

They just made a movie about this, too.

Eric Slate said...

Thank you for taking up Alpha Game. Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

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