How I Know Your Kid Is a Jerk

Yes, your kid. She’s a jerk.

My eight-year-old daughter likes to make crafts. About two years ago, my wife came across a woman who calls herself “My Froggy Stuff” and who makes shockingly good doll accessories out of things you’ve likely already got in your house. She regularly posts YouTube videos demonstrating how, with infinite patience and care, you too can make a doll vending machine or cash register or doll party stuff or just about doll anything else. She also ends each video with a short skit that uses whatever she just showed you how to craft, with what we assume are dolls as stand-ins for herself and her daughter. These little shows are uniformly adorable, made even more so by the “shout out” they give at the end to a crafter in the community who has sent in work inspired by the videos.

It’s all uplifting and self-affirming and shot through with a genuine sense of You Can Do It Yourself. And as far as we can tell, this lady doesn’t do it for money. She does have an Etsy page, sure, but she doesn’t push craft kits or branded scissors, doesn’t endorse any particular line of dolls or accessories. She doesn’t even ask for donations or viewer support. If anything, My Froggy Stuff threatens whole swaths of the Doll Industrial Complex with her high-quality industriousness. Why pay hundreds of dollars for a doll tree house when you can make your own that’s so far and away better and self-inflected than some boxed, pink-plastic monstrosity?

Froggy’s quality and consistency have not gone unnoticed. She currently has over 1,100,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, including thirty videos with over a million views. She also has a Facebook page with nearly 72,000 likers and a blog (that still has “blogspot” in the URL) with a serious readership. She has built, though hard and consistently outstanding work, both an Internet community and a real community on the Internet.

As the shout outs show, she likes to cultivate and to engage with this community. In the spirit of cultivation (I’m assuming), she held a photo story contest in which she invited people to submit five photos via Facebook that tell a story with no words. It cost nothing to enter, and finalists would receive t-shirts, with three grand-prize winners each receiving a Saige American Girl doll, retail value about $120.

My daughter was excited to participate. We all talked about possible stories and what she would need to make for the five photos. My daughter did most of the work, with my wife assisting and guiding. (My son and I offered constructive criticism and punch-up when needed.) I could tell you more about the story she went with, but I’m here to talk about how I know your kid is a jerk.

Once Froggy announced the contest, her Facebook page lit up with hopeful people, many young girls, announcing how hard they were going to work and how they thought they would win. Shortly after the contest closed, Froggy reported via Facebook that she had received over 100,000 entries from across the world.

Yes, you read that correctly: 100,000 entries.

Let’s pause for a little math. With three possible grand-prize winners out of 100,000 entries, you had a .003 percent chance (or odds of 1 in 33,333) of taking home a Saige doll.

The Internet being the Internet, trolling began early — Facebook posts popped up on Froggy’s page from people claiming to be finalists before any winners were announced. To be expected, for sure, even in a community largely consisting of younger kids.

But, man, when she posted the names of the winners. The Facebook announcement quickly grew a comment tail of pissed-offedness. Here’s a sample, compliments of copy and paste. (NOTE: [sic] implied throughout):

Never entering another one of your contests! I wanted Saige so badly i even waited to see if i won And since i lost i have to spend 110$ that i Dont have! Im crying!
I can’t beleive I did’nt win! I am 1 of your biggest fans, and I’m NOT lieing! But right now I’m mad!
Why! I worked so hard to win and make my photos great and accepted, but no! I didn’t even get a T shirt. Why doesn’t anyone accept me? I used two eighteen inch dolls in it, and it was hard to work with them! I feel so sad. ☹
I hate u but I am ur biggest fan I cant hate u but u didnt made me win I only have 1 ag doll brcsuse I live in indiaaaa
I’m lost:’(.I want to cry.I want to get ag doll so badly.No ag doll in Singapore.But I congrate to the winners.I’m so sad and unhappy
I don’t have an American girl doll but I would like one please if yes ☺)) If you say no I will be sad like this: ☹((
It would be fair if the people who didnt have AG Dolls to win because if the winners have amercican girl dolls already then some people don’t and it adds one more to the person that won gets more AG dolls and some kids can’t afford AG dolls BECAUSE THERE SO EXPENSIVE!!!!!!!!!!!

Sure, okay, you’re probably thinking this rage results from all the awards helicoptered kids have received just for showing up, which has made them believe they deserve whatever prize regardless of effort or quality of their performance.

True, my kids have accumulated shelves of trophies and hooks full of medals at the end of thick ribbons just for being part of classes and teams, but they haven’t come to expect great rewards simply for meeting expectations. Instead, like any currency, the proliferation of trophies has resulted in their devaluation. The new medal gets hung on the hook and the latest trophy pushed back on the shelf, and they wait, ignored, for their dust. As The Incredibles so effectively teaches: If everyone is special, no one is. And they see it, too.

So why, then, is your kid a jerk? Maybe it’s because you are. Here are a couple of posts from parents that were mixed in with the kid rage from above:

My daughter is so disappointed. I know there were a lot of entries and am wondering if she just couldn’t view them all. I think my daughter’s was better than several of the winners’.
That is really discouraging. Some of these girls had fantastic stories….Most of the winners had “stories” that you could not even tell what the story was. Also, the girls with 15 AG dolls in them may not need another one….One of my daughters didn’t even get viewed and she faithfully watches every single froggy video. That was hard explaining to a 7 year old

I’m not sure what’s so difficult to explain to a seven-year-old. The more people who enter a contest, the harder it is to win, and a lot of people — a lot of people — entered this one. She (I’m assuming the writer is a mom) could praise her daughter for her hard work (if she did work hard) and perhaps even let her know how much she enjoyed helping her with the project (if she did help her). Not so difficult.

Not so difficult, too, to remind a seven-year-old what draws her again and again to the videos, why she slips bottles of Mod Podge in the shopping cart, why she hoards the empty cardboard boxes headed for recycling, why she likes to see paint stain her fingers. Not too difficult to watch her clothe her doll in the dress she stitched and glued herself and to point to it and say right out loud to her, “You made that. Good work.”

Explain to your seven-year-old, though this is more difficult, that she is a maker of things and in doing so has made herself. She won’t be a jerk. She can make her own trophies.