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It’s been a whirlwind year for Greg Pembroke, father of two young sons and founder of the viral blog-turned-hit-selling-book, Reasons My Kid Is Crying (the blog is Reasons My Son Is Crying). The book is currently being sold in multiple countries around the world, with plans to expand this summer. We caught up with Greg—who formerly worked in advertising full-time before going part-time to care for his kiddos—to chat about just how this whole phenomenon came about. He shared some of the great discoveries he’s made about people from all over the world and gave us some insight into his hilarious world.
So take us through from the start. What started your blog?
I did it on April 2nd of last year… It started off as just posting pictures to a Facebook album on my own personal Facebook page. The first picture I ever posted was a picture of my son crying because I broke his cheese in half… Then over the course of the next three days, I posted another 10 pictures and my friends just thought it was great. They wanted to share it with their friends [but] they couldn’t do that because my Facebook is so private, so one of my friends kept suggesting that I start a Tumblr blog. I didn’t know much about Tumblr but I checked it out and it was pretty easy…I started with maybe 10 or 15 pictures.
At what point did your blog start to go viral?
Within the first week it just spread around the world. I started it on Tuesday and the following Sunday it went to number one on Reddit and then that Monday it was just on every website—every single website. People were sharing it so quickly that Facebook banned all links to it… It was being shared so quickly that it truly looked like a virus that was spreading too fast so they just shut it down. Meanwhile, TV shows tracked us down…“The Today Show” called my wife’s cell…The blog was completely anonymous so it was just crazy…We were on “Good Morning America” and that was fun but millions and millions of people watch that show so then it was just crazy.
How did the book deal come about?
So right [after “Good Morning America”] is when publishers and literary agents started reaching out to me. I had literally started this website like a week prior. It was only supposed to be a fun little thing for family and friends… As soon as it went that far spread, people started submitting their own pictures too. I didn’t know what to do with them because I was just posting pictures of my kid…We decided that we would start taking submissions and I worked with a publisher to make it into a book…We had publishing deals in Germany, England, and North America…I think we have a total of 7 publishers now… And meanwhile I’m a part-time stay at home dad.
What have been your wife’s reactions through this whole experience?
We’re both just sort of amazed and in disbelief because who would’ve ever thought that this would ever happen to anybody…When it first started spreading, we thought it was a little strange… It’s weird to have that many eyeballs on you when you’re not used to having any. We’re pretty private people. It went from being something that was very private just with my friends to being around the world.
How have you dealt with the backlash that can come with having a viral blog?
When it first went viral I could see 100 or 200 happy comments and all I would look for is that one mean, miserable person who wanted to write something mean… So that part was actually a little tough because you wanted to engage with the people and [say]: “No, it’s not terrible…” I think all the nice letters I got from people around the world definitely helped…One of the first letters I ever got was this lady who wrote to me and said: “My son and daughter are in college. I miss them so much. Seeing your website reminds me of those days, and it really makes it easier to live apart from them now.” It’s really nice to have that sort of impact on someone else.
What’s your favorite “reason”?
I can’t be objective. My favorite page in the new book—on the left page it’s my 2-year-old and on the right page it’s my 4-year-old—my 2-year-old wanted to wear his yellow shoes and my 4-year-old wanted him to wear his brown shoes. They were just arguing over what shoes the 2-year-old should wear. I think that’s my favorite page because my 2-year-old is just openly wailing and then my 4-year-old is just pouting.
As far as submissions, one of the most popular is a picture a lady in Scotland sent. They were at a golf tournament and Bill Murray was there. They tried to get a picture of her and her son and Bill Murray. Her son just started crying immediately and then Bill Murray pretended to cry. So it’s a picture of Bill Murray pretending to cry with a crying kid… We found out that Bill Murray pretending to cry looks an awful lot like Tom Hanks.
Have you seen Conan O’Brien’s spoof of your blog?
That was insane. That was one of the first days where I was like: “This is crazy!” Someone shared with me a picture of Conan crying. I wrote to my friend [and said]: “If Conan really did this, this is the coolest thing ever.” [My friend] actually knows another Ithaca alum that worked on the “Conan” show. He sent a message to her and she wrote back with a link to Conan’s Tumblr [and said]: “Oh, it’s real.”
What have you learned throughout the journey of going viral and publishing a book?
It has taught me just the universal nature of parenting. I got a picture sent to me from Kansas and right next to it in my inbox was a picture from Japan and the photos were composed almost identical. The kid from Kansas was crying because his mom wouldn’t let him scald himself with hot coffee and the kid from Japan, his mom wouldn’t let him scald himself with hot tea.
We’re all going through the same exact thing. Every single person on the planet when they’re having kids is literally living the same life no matter where you are. There’ve been people who’ve visited the website from every country except North Korea. It just shows how universal it is.