Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Mrs. Linklater's Shortcuts to Parenting
Well white people in SUVs are at it again. They keep coming up with more and more creative ways to avoid parenting. Oh sure, they like the part about making the babies, but eeeewwwww get someone else to do this other stuff.
They've already been phoning it in from airports and meetings for years, but now, according to People Magazine, the opiate of the Fluffer Nutter generation, they have started hiring companies to potty train their kids.
The fact that there are companies that can actually find work teaching toddlers where to put their poop is just another sign of the Apocalypse. Leave it to the Blackberry Babes in Hummers to be at the forefront of this latest epidemic of buckpassing. True to their business school backgrounds, they no doubt require the people they hire to keep a full accounting of every poop and peep in a notebook for review at the end of each day.
As a member of this pasty faced demographic that regularly embarrasses itself just walking out the front door, I am surprised they haven't started hiring people to hug and kiss their children, too. Oh, wait, they have -- nannies.
But they've crossed a line with this whole hiring outside consultants to handle the potty training thing. Not only because sphincter control tops the to-do list of a entire generation of control freak, double-income throw money at it and make it go away Donald Trump wannabes, but because it is fast becoming an entire industry unto itself.
All you have to do is Google "potty training" and you'll discover page after page of methods of controlling your children's bodily functions.
From "How to get started, and dealing with resistance" to "motivating your child" to potty chairs, potty seats, portable potties, anatomically correct dolls created just for potty training, and the all important incentives, rewards, and stickers so necessary for success.
This is nuts.
Raising kids could be a lot more fun if there weren't so many stupid rules about how to do it.
What probably happened was some Irish American Princess with a MBA got a gander at the mustard colored cottage cheese stuff coming out of her new baby and realized that she wanted no part of it. Whoa, I don't do windows or poop.
That might explain why getting a child to control where and when things come out of its body begins to consume young mothers who would rather be shopping or reading a spreadsheet.
Their motto? The sooner, the better. Not to mention that they delegate the job to other people.
My first child was barely three months old when my mother in law began to tell me stories of children who had been toilet trained by twelve months. Since most toddlers are barely walking by then, it always sounded like the kid had mom trained to hang its butt over the toilet. Not the other way around.
I spent one, count 'em, ONE day teaching my eighteen month old child how to use the toilet and I was cured of this illness. Perhaps it was the size of the enormous poop I had to clean up when she didn't realize she wasn't wearing a diaper, who knows? But a voice inside me said, NOPE, not doing this.
So in a departure from my white girl who drives an SUV heritage of controlling any and all things all of the time, or hiring other people I could control to do all things all the time for me, I rebelled and refused to participate in these time honored traditions.
I just said no.
And I didn't "potty train" either one of my children.
That's right. I didn't buy a potty seat. I didn't spend one minute sitting them on it and praising their poops and peeps. I didn't sing songs or award gold stars or bribe them with cookies or drive myself to distraction when they weren't trained overnight.
I simply remembered that these were human children, not chimpanzees or dogs. I waited until they could climb on the toilet seat themselves and ask me to teach them. Even then they went at their own pace.
Learning to use the toilet was their decision not mine. They started asking at around two and a half. And finished when they were three.
That philosophy carried over to using bottles, paciifiers, thumbs, all the accoutrements of baby and toddlerhood that parents feel the need to control. I gave control to my children.
I think parents are convinced their children will be sucking pacifiers and wearing diapers to college unless they intervene. Give it a rest.
My older child had a pacifier from the day she got home from the hospital. I gave it to her all the time. At three months, I watched her pull it out of her mouth when she went down for a nap and she never used it again. Three months old and she made a decision that I respected. Even more importantly, I never forced her to take it just to keep me happy.
My younger daughter was a thumb sucker. She liked to watch Sesame Street but only if I was holding her while she sucked her thumb and twirled her hair. I couldn't use TV as a babysitter for her. She wouldn't watch unless I held her. At the time that was an hour I wanted to use to clean the house. In retrospect the time was much better spent with her. I also remember wondering how long she would want to suck her thumb.
One evening when she was five or six, she announced to me that she wasn't going to suck her thumb anymore. My ex, her father, was pressuring her during their semi-annual visits, but I said that quitting was her decision, because it was HER thumb. Besides, the only time she sucked it was when she was falling asleep. The next morning she woke up and said, "Look my callous is going away." She was done in a day or two. Her decision.
Both girls nursed for almost a year and weaned to bottles when they wanted them. Then I let them tell me when they were finished with the bottles. Both were five and a half. At that point I was only bringing them some juice or milk in the morning before they got out of bed. My younger daughter said to me one day, "Mommy get rid of the bottles." Her decision.
Why do kids have to stop using pacifiers and sucking their thumbs on your schedule? Why do they have to be "trained" before they're ready? They are astute observers of behavior. They know what they like and don't like. When they want to learn something, they learn fast. When they've outgrown something they stop using it.
When they can make their own decisions they have more confidence in themselves and their abilities.
Yeah, but a parent has to be willing to relinquish control.
I don't think those potty training companies will be out of business anytime soon. One look in a Williams Sonoma parking lot and you can see there are still plenty of white people in SUVs to keep them busy.