Glad they haven’t seen my place

I really should know better than to read trashy newspapers, but this story really has to take the cake. It is about Nadya Suleman and the apparent ‘filth’ her children live in. Unfortunately for the writers, it would have been much more convincing if they hadn’t included the pictures. I will not use the nickname given to Ms Suleman by the media, as I think it is nasty as is their treatment of her generally, but in short she has 14 children, 8 of whom were delivered after IVF treatment in one pregnancy. So she has a lot of kids and is a single mum. It probably won’t surprise you to discover that parts of her house are messy.

But the spin put on the photos accompanying the article really is astounding. A photo showing Nadya’s back and to her right a door propped shut with a chair, spraypainted ‘do not enter’, is allegedly where she locks her children when she wants some personal time. No evidence apart from the photo is given for this claim.

A photo outside the house shows two children on portable potties. Shocking I know, providing portable potties for small children learning to toilet themselves. But apparently this is evidence that the children are forced to use these as there is only one working toilet. Allegedly her hair stylist said this.

Then there is a heart rending photo of a child sitting on an unmade mattress in sparse room. Or a photo of a child having some quiet time on a mattress reading a book while out of shot someone else is tidying up the room and washing the bedding?

There are claims the children are living in squalor, illustrated by a photo of a wall with some holes in the gyprock, smudges and scrapes from children and toys, with children’s artwork attached to the wall up high out of reach of little hands. Someone has been playing with the spray paint again too. The wooden floor looks (to me) clean and uncluttered. In short it doesn’t look much different to part of my house, although the dings in the plasterboard are smaller at my place, but two kids v fourteen you are going to get that.

A photo of a bedroom covered in what ‘appears to be’ dirty laundry. I think this was the point at which I reached terminal eye-roll. My daughter can cover her room in clothes in about 30 seconds. It is called pulling out every item of clothing she owns, throwing it on the floor then selecting what she wants to wear. Multiply this by 14, or even two, and you have a mess of clean clothing virtually indistinguishable from dirty clothing because she sure as hell doesn’t fold it before she dumps it on the floor.

In the next photo there is graffiti – someone needs to stop it with the spraypaint already – and drawing on the walls. I have drawing on my walls, mostly by the youngest as the eldest had pretty much passed that stage when we moved into our house. I had one child of an age to draw on walls, Nadya has up to 14 of them. You can’t watch kids all the time, so the walls they will get drawn on. Big deal.

A photo of children said to be malnourished and unclean shows 6 children with their faces pixellated, dressed in t-shirts and training nappies, with clean looking hair, fairly recent haircuts, and looking like most other children and certainly not like something from a World Vision appeal.

Toys are left carelessly around the backyard is the caption on the next photo – oh please, the lawn has been mowed recently and given there are 14 children there are relatively few toys scattered around. Since they are outdoor toys is it any surprise they are in the backyard?

Then there is a picture of a cheque that Nadya allegedly paid her stylist for $520. Of course the cheque only bears the name of the stylist, not the services, so it could be that she cut the whole family’s hair as well as styling Nadya’s or it could be a cheque for something else completely but that doesn’t fit with the narrative they want to sell so lets not go into that. This story really was complete drivel. The only reason they probably won’t get sued is because they said that after spending 1.5 hours at the house Social Services said there was no problem. Really, the photos with this article say the same. Stay classy Daily Mail.

Categories: media, parenting

Tags: , ,

10 replies

  1. Great post, Mindy. Also my house, especially when the children were small. Not so much these days, when they’re all a bit older, but the mess does seems to spread very easily. And my teenage daughter is very prone to treating her floor as a handy wardrobe.

  2. Oh, no toys carelessly left around the backyard! Hey at least they have toys to play with.

    Photos looked tidier than my place gets a lot of the time and I only have one toddler. No clothes on the floor though because our cats have a habit of mistaking clothes on floor as kitty litter which is pretty strong incentive for never leaving them out.

  3. O noes! And the pitiful site of kids running around in nappies without pants! Just like my kids!

  4. I really like the bit about “the boys are wearing girl’s clothes, they are neglected”. Nothing says neglect like boys wearing girl clothing.

  5. I wonder if that is part of the point, or at least part of such newspapers’ general vibe: we all look around at our own homes and panic about what bad, bad, neglectful mothers we are.
    Oops, I just looked around me then. That was unwise.

  6. I think you can’t even judge a household with 14 kids on the same level as a household with 2-4 kids, you should (if at all) judge it like a kindergarten in that the whole place can become pure chaos within minutes.
    On the cheque for the hairdresser though, both the article itself and the linked article at TMZ give the particular services (two haircuts, hair products etc).

  7. I think it was disgusting that part of the decision that these kids needed help was because were dressed in “girls clothes”. Really people? The gender policing here is ridiculous. Yes, my boys have worn “girls clothing” and they are just fine and well adjusted. Also the hairdresser commenting that she cut the kids hair so that the boys wouldn’t look like girls and how this presented as a positive is just stomach turning.

  8. I’m outraged from a slightly different angle – how did the media get those pictures? Who took them? Did Ms Suleman give consent for those images of her children to be published? I really doubt it.
    I think the real threat to the children’s welfare is the invasion of their privacy.

  9. Ditto all your comments. Plus, I suspect there should be something disgusting about children toileting outside. Don’t tell anyone my kids like to pee on our lawn with their friends.

  10. I also wondered whether the response to these images was also informed by the lack of middle-class accoutrements and a misaligning of certain forms of poverty with neglect. Because it did strike me that the house was empty of certain symbols of material wealth (at least in these images), like ornaments, books, dvds, ‘clutter’, framed pictures and family portraits, kitchen equipment, table-cloths, rugs, throw pillows, etc etc. And, I would imagine that the reason social services didn’t have a problem with this was they have to see much worse poverty all the time, the house was clean and the kids looked happy and healthy.
    My childfree home looks significantly messier than that today and I don’t even have kids to blame!

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