Several years ago on vacation in New York I stopped to pick up some prints at a photo store.
I was still shooting film and had dropped the roll off an hour before. The clerk asked if I would check them.
As I stood at the counter and looked, I was shocked to see, amidst shots of the Empire State Building and other tourist attractions, nude pictures of my children. Some of the shots were close-ups of what parents commonly refer to as “your private parts.”
Mortified and a bit panicked, I mumbled that the pictures were fine, stuffed them in my purse and rushed out of the store.
My children were 2 and 4 at the time. They later readily and quite proudly admitted they had taken my camera and taken the pictures when I was not watching. At the time my mind raced, had the clerk seen the pictures? Was she asking me to check the prints to get my reaction?
The shop had my contact information, would someone be calling me to investigate?
No call ever came. But I wondered what would have happened if I had picked up the prints in the Twin Cities where I am often recognized. The moment I heard Melodee Hoffner defend her husband, Todd, after he was first charged with child pornography, I thought about what had happened to me and how many other families have, for whatever reason, images that have been captured that could be misinterpreted.
A judge ruled on Friday that there was nothing pornographic about the images on Todd Hoffner’s cell phone. It would be nice to see this man, who has been living in what he describes as “a nightmare,” get his coaching job back.
And yes, I did talk to my 2-year-old and my 4-year-old. I stumbled a bit, when one asked if they had done something “really bad.”
My answer was that these days there are bad people, who do bad things to kids. But that the “good” way to take pictures is to always have a grown up you know and trust be there with you.
I am sure there was a better explanation I could have offered, but it was certainly not the last time the nuances of parenting collided with an age where what is good and bad is evolving at a pace that is difficult for many of us to keep up with.