Every day, Brent Almond slips a Post-it into his son Jon’s lunchbox. And each little square is a true work of art, complete with a professional-level sketch of a superhero or cartoon character with some daily words of wisdom for Jon.
And then there’s Beau Coffron, the Lunchbox Dad, who creates elaborate designs with each packed meal.
Or Nina Levy of Daily Napkins, whose Sharpie napkin illustrations have become much more elaborate and colorful over the years.
While these parents ultimately want to brighten their kids’ day, other parents don’t feel so positive about the lunchbox art.
“It did not make me popular,” Levy tells NPR, talking about the time she went into her son’s class to draw napkins for students. Other kids began asking their parents for their own doodles. “[Other parents] see it as indulgent and irritating and a sign that I have too much time on my hands,” Levy adds.
Levy is also an artist who works from a studio in her apartment.
According to Caitlyn Collins, who’s studying contemporary parenting practices at the University of Texas, there’s a term for this intimidating idea of perfect parenting: intensive mothering. It requires moms (or dads) to constantly be attending to their family’s needs, even at the expense of their own.
“It’s showing that you’re doing a better job carrying out this role than those around you,” says Collins.
But for Levy, her intention isn’t to be the best or most attentive parent in the class. Drawing is just part of who she is.
“Suggesting that other people need to do it or that it is a reasonable thing to do — it’s certainly not,” she says.
We all have our strengths, and there are plenty of different parenting styles.
But we can all agree the Pancake Dad is the greatest, right?