Katie Holmes and her young daughter Suri are constantly surrounded by the paparazzi in New York City, where they make their home. Recently, they were videotaped trying to get into a car, and Suri admonished the waiting photographers, telling them to get out of the way.
One paparazzo responded, calling her a brat, for which another paparazzo reprimanded him, as did the many commentators on morning talk shows once the video went online. Mostly the conversation revolved around whether anyone should be able to call someone else's child a brat, to their face, particularly when it's done in front of their mother and out loud, versus the usual muttering of this sentiment while mom and child are out of listening distance.
It's a bit of a ridiculous conversation in this context. First of all, it should be noted that Katie Holmes herself did not at the time, or at any point so far react or respond to the comment; in fact I doubt she even heard it. I liken it to my kids' hockey games I occasionally go to, where (surprise) there are many parents yelling less than complimentary terms at other children, as well as their own. I've asked my kids if this bothers them, and they say "We can't hear anything. Good or bad. It's too loud in the arena and we're focused on the game."
I think this is probably the case with Holmes. She is in a public arena, focused on "the game", which in her case is simply trying to get her daughter safely through the streets and into a waiting car, while trying to maintain the most perfect parenting public image possible.
I think we all know how hard public parenting can be, even when there aren't a hundred photographers watching. As for Suri, she is a small child who faces an unusual amount of frustration and criticism as she makes her way around her highly scrutinized and documented world. Check out the mock twitter account attributed to her, @surisburnbook, in which the author also presents Suri as a brat, consumed with the idea that other Hollywood progeny are stealing her spotlight. Which of course they are.
Is she actually a brat? Perhaps. Should the photographer have spoken to her in this way? Probably not, but let's face it, some kids are brats, we all know one or two, and chances are she was acting in a bratty way.
But this is not the same as a peer calling your child a brat on a playground. This is the result of a person whose profession requires him or her to stake out the less than interesting lives of school age children. A profession that also thrives and is rewarded for receiving a reaction from the subjects they stalk. By elevating this story to "discussion status" we are simply encouraging other photographers to see how far they can go with these unwitting and unintended celebrities. Let's face it, "Brats" are rewarded with tabloid fame. The Kardashian girls, Lyndsay Lohan, and the biggest brat of them all, Justin Bieber, are proof enough of that. Let's all take a page from Katie's book and not react to this at all. I think Suri's right; we should get out of her way.
Read Funny Mummy every month. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth. Get Kathy's latest book "I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family The Business" at bookstores on online at Amazon.