August 16, 2022
“As soon as I’d posted the picture I regretted it,” said writer Hazel Davis, in a HuffPost UK story several years ago. “Of course, I didn’t regret the picture of my darling, gorgeous, beautiful daughter—but the supposedly funny comment beneath it: “My poor child, covered in dirt. Call Social Services.”
Naturally I didn’t mean I was a bad parent. Far from it, in fact I wanted everyone to look at the picture, admire my daughter, and then admire how earthy and outdoorsy we all were. I regretted it because it was a perfect example of the humble brag.
Social networking site Twitter has been awash with examples of celebs and wannabe-celebs’ humble brags—one of the best and most perfectly concise being, “I just stepped on gum. Who spits gum on a red carpet?”
Parenting humble brags might take the following form: I (parent) am so bad because insert not bad/really quite enviable thing here. Sit back and wait for reassurance/praise and/or both.
Sometimes a humble brag will be an innocuous enough comment but contain some killer information such as, “Tripped over on my way home from collecting Jemima from her GRADE SEVEN cello exam. What an idiot.”
But nobody does it better than parents. “OMG,” Facebooked one friend of mine recently, “Jay fell off the bottom stair this morning. He is so advanced, I sometimes forget he’s only ten months old and still a baby.”
“Well we didn’t, love,” says Davis. “You keep reminding us every five minutes that he’s “only” ten months.
“Silly Jay trying to use a knife and fork when he’s only been feeding himself for a few months…”
A good friend of mine, Barry, is a master of the humble brag. His son, Peter, is three years old and Barry is “worried” about his development. He’s worried because Barry appears to be streets ahead of his peers and might be having a hard time at nursery. No, he’s not. YOU’RE having a hard time at nursery because the staff don’t recognize little Petey’s genius.
“I do SO worry that he will end up being bored,” sighs dad, when instead we’d all just rather he ran around the playground shouting “My kid’s cleverer than your kid. Ner ner ner ner ner,” which, to be honest, is what he really would rather be doing.
Another friend’s little darling has been doing some modeling work. “OMG totally forgot to take Scarlett’s shoot makeup off this morning,” she will opine, “poor little thing.”
Oh yes, what shoot was that? Because you hadn’t mentioned that your daughter was a model. Well not for the last three hours anyway.
The humble brag is entirely different to the genuine and refreshing brag.
“OMG my child is simply just fricking brilliant” or the genuinely humble (as favored by my friend Hannah, who adorably has NO idea how this parental bragging thing works), “Whoops. I think my child might actually ACTUALLY be dim.”
The humble-brag is sly, it’s disingenuous and it’s almost impossible not to do if you’re both British (ergo reserved) and a parent (ergo proud and smug as pants), opines Davis.
“Now, excuse me,” she writes, “while I go and get the baby’s dinner. She is SO boring, ALL she wants to eat is broccoli all the time. She’ll turn into one if she’s not careful ….”
Readers are invited to list the humble brags they use, or hear from friends.
Research contact: @HuffPostUK