Belgian Kids Go On Wacky, Dangerous Adventures Thanks To Their Photoshop-Savvy Dad
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
It's never easy for a new parent to go back to work, leave their baby at home. It's comforting to know someone is keeping the baby safe, but for one family in Antwerp, Belgium, it doesn't always look that way. Here's NPR's Stu Rushfield with that photographically harrowing story.
STU RUSHFIELD, BYLINE: After her daughter Alix was born, new mom Tineke Vanobbergen didn't want to leave her side. But after about three months, it was time for Tineke to return to her job managing an electronics store. Like most moms, she was anxious leaving her baby behind, but she felt pretty sure that Alix's dad, Kenny Deuss, would take good care of her.
KENNY DEUSS: She was kind of worried that everything was going to be OK. She does trust me, but you never know what can happen.
RUSHFIELD: Kenny was doing fine, but Tineke wanted proof.
TINEKE VANOBBERGEN: I just asked for a picture every single day to see her because I missed her.
RUSHFIELD: Kenny texted normal photos for the first week - Alix sleeping, Alix eating, Alix drooling - and Tineke felt better. But Kenny was bored sending the same shots over and over. So he got an idea.
DEUSS: The next week she asked for some pictures. So I was like, OK, I can send some pictures, but I'm going to do something else with it now.
RUSHFIELD: And Tineke got a surprise when she opened her next lunchtime photo.
VANOBBERGEN: The picture was Alix sitting on a curb in front of our apartment in an astronaut suit with a sign to hitchhike to the moon.
RUSHFIELD: Kenny propped up the baby on the sidewalk and used digital editing software to make it look like baby Alix was sitting up all by herself, ready to rocket into space.
VANOBBERGEN: Obviously, I had to ask, can she sit yet, because she was only 3 months old, and she couldn't sit when I saw her.
RUSHFIELD: Tineke was surprised but quickly figured out what Kenny had done.
VANOBBERGEN: And then I showed it to all my colleagues, and everybody loved it. And he did it again. And then we started asking for it every week.
RUSHFIELD: So every Tuesday, Kenny would send a new photo featuring Alix in a new digitally manipulated seemingly worrisome situation. Soon after, he made an account on Instagram. He called it On Adventure With Dad and quickly found fans. Now his more than 350,000 followers get a new photo every Tuesday.
DEUSS: A lot of parents - a bit scared at first, a bit disturbed maybe even. But they quickly realize it's a joke. I think that's one of the biggest reasons it's such a big success.
RUSHFIELD: In one picture, Alix sits on the edge of a cliff, her tiny feet dangling over the roaring sea below. In others she's using a power drill, stuck upside down in a vending machine, playing with electrical outlets and being lifted into the sky by birthday balloons.
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RUSHFIELD: Alix is 2 now with a new baby sister, 5-month-old Aster. And Aster has made her debut on the Instagram page.
DEUSS: Belgium has some very aggressive seagulls. In the picture, it looked like one of the seagulls took my baby away from me and I'm running behind the seagull trying to catch her.
RUSHFIELD: Tineke says Kenny has lots of fun with the girls while posing them for new photos. And she says their girls are having fun, too. In one recent photoshoot with Alix...
VANOBBERGEN: He was just lifting up her booty to get her in the right position, and she was just giggling the entire time.
RUSHFIELD: Kenny says there's another point to this.
DEUSS: What I'm doing is making a bit fun of the misconception about fathers in general - that fathers cannot take care of children easy.
RUSHFIELD: For Tineke, there's a simple bottom line.
VANOBBERGEN: It's all games with Daddy. He's a really good dad.
RUSHFIELD: And Kenny says he won't run out of ideas anytime soon.
For NPR News, I'm Stu Rushfield.
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