herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Colette Fitzpatrick: Keyboard warriors should be ashamed of how they treated Toy Show's Lara

My little pony, skinny and bony, went to the circus and peed on purpose." That little ditty was brought into our house on Monday, thanks to my five-year-old.

He picked it up in school or after school and was laughing so much he could hardly get it out. He hasn't stopped saying it and has tutored my three-year-old accordingly.

My Little Pony remixes are obviously a thing right now for primary school kids. Zeitgeisty.

We had similar rhymes when I was in school about Dunnes buns giving you the … well, you get the picture.

Dunnes tarts also had an equally undesirable effect. But we giggled and laughed raucously at these subversive numbers because little kids love mutinous, silly rhymes and songs.

It's one of the cutest things about kids - that they find joy in things that are not the way they are supposed to be. It also allows them not to accept everything at face value. A little 'roll-your-own rhyme', as it were.

So when Lara Reddy (6) did her own impromptu "My Little Pony, skinny and bony, went to the stable, to die on the table" rhyme on the Late Late Toy Show, you would have thought, the reaction would be - cute kid, funny little rhyme, let's see the toy, nothing to see here, move on.

Instead, the keyboard warriors decided she was the perfect target for a bit of Twitter and Facebook outrage and abuse. Her picture also became a meme and a number of mocking pictures were shared online.

Some comments related to Lara's ethnicity, others made fun of her and a number of users labelled her as "spoiled".

What goes through the mind of someone sitting on a couch at home who thinks it's acceptable to slag off a child on social media? A child who thought that all her Christmases had come at once because she was going to be on the Toy Show. Because she was going to be on telly. Her family and her friends would see her on the biggest show of the year.

I don't know Lara and don't know whether or not she's spoiled. But I do know it's impossible to make a judgement call on any child in a time slot that short.

Anyone with kids will tell you sometimes they may come across as a little giddy or cocksure, even when they're not. That's kids.

Either way, all Lara did was to be fearless and independent, something we all want for our kids in a world barraging them with images and messages telling them to all act and all look the same way. To be "sheeple".

Lara is possibly oblivious to the vile abuse now, but no doubt will come across it in the future. We now know that any girl's self-esteem can fall off a cliff when she hits puberty. I hope if she sees this behaviour it doesn't knock her or make her less brave.

Lara and her peers are unlucky enough to be growing up in a world where people think nothing of slagging off others with a couple of clicks. But she's one of the luckiest kids around to have a dad who was in her corner and came out defending his daughter.

She wouldn't have wanted to come out with My Little Pony - The Extras. The poor Twitterati would have taken a fit of the vapours.

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