Parenting Is Hard. Celebrity Cameos Can Help.
During a pandemic, it takes a celebrity village to raise a child
My 9-year-old daughter is having a hard time. It’s the kind of hard time most kids have at her age, made worse by the pandemic. Sometimes people call her quirky. This makes her nervous. She wants to be normal. When I tell her there’s no such thing as “normal” she scoffs. She just wants to unobtrusively line up with the girlhood formulated by Disney tween sitcoms and the common consent of an apathetic society. When she’s at school, she bends her mind and spirit in half, frustrated that each corner of herself doesn’t meet the others. She’s pretending to no longer like make-believe; she’s grown quieter, looking to know others before she knows herself. This is upsetting, but normal. When she’s at home we try to help her roll herself out, smooth away the creases she’s made, help her learn to love her unique outline.
In the past when one of our other children dealt with similar hardships, we found environments where they felt more at ease as themself. For this kid, that would mean songwriting workshops, a children’s theater company, or maybe some Studio Ghibli art classes. She’s lucky to be attending in-person school during the pandemic, but there are no after-school rooms full of accepting, singing, acting, Totoro-obsessed kids right now. There’s just us. It’s not enough. We need reinforcement. I asked my daughter to make a list of people who were happy being themselves, even if they don’t fit in. Kim-Joy was at the top of her list.
Kim-Joy was a baker on The Great British Bake Off. She made fox cakes and chocolate spheres full of choux space turtles. She wore vintage prints and had colorful hair. She spent the competition being unapologetically herself. My kids loved her. They still do. They check in on her Instagram, where she shares vegan tangzhong ox buns, purrmaid macarons, and space-bunny cakes. They watch her YouTube channel, taking notes on how to make pandaleines and bear biscuits. They love her baking but mostly, they adore her. She is accessible and accepting of herself. Kim-Joy is outspoken about her childhood social anxiety. She actively works to empower disadvantaged women. Her work means something to my daughters. After they engage with Kim-Joy’s spaces they inhabit their own…