TAMPA, FL - From the very beginning, friends, family, and readers thought my ideas were a little whack.
“Most expectant moms want to register for breast pumps, strollers, and adorable outfits. You’re obsessed with picking out the right steam-cleaning vacuum.”
“Everything in the house is organic and now our grocery bill has officially surpassed the mortgage payment.”
“My grandson will never know the pleasure of milk-fed veal?”
“In some circles, it’s considered child abuse never to take your kid to a rodeo, circus or NASCAR event.”
For the most part, I am proud of my ideas and irrational fear of the corn-dog crowd, and I’ve shown more than a few examples where moderation is my method of madness.
Besides, progressive parenting is preferable to some truly bizarre beliefs making their way through parenting circles today.
A growing number of moms and dads are forgoing diapers in favor of something called Communication Elimination. Check it: new parents are to watch their babies closely for certain signs and then stick them on a potty when they’re ready to blow. Some mommies even encourage forming playgroups for mutual support, because apparently waste disposal is easier in a group setting.
They don’t care where kiddies go, you can hover them over the nearest houseplant if you have to, as long as it’s not in a diaper. When babies are perched on a mini-toilet, we are supposed to whisper “sssss” into their ears while they drool and wonder why we’re invading their personal space.
New parents already have no life. Now they need to differentiate between smiles and gas pains before rushing newborns off to eliminate every twenty minutes. That leaves zero time for cocktails. Do I really share voting habits with these people?
Maybe I’m officially old-fashioned, but I believe a parent can utilize Pampers, or cloth contraptions to help the environment, and when the kid communicates, change the diaper. No pressure. No guilt. No weird clubs and no embarrassing moments in the mall because you served prunes with breakfast.
Save potty teaching for when they master the art of keeping saliva in their mouths.
And when they finally understand that we don’t eat toilet paper, when they are finally ready to climb that toilet themselves, take a deep breath and relax. You’re already stressing everyone out.
Full disclosure: I have always hated poop.
Thankfully, for the first year or so, I was able to change diapers without feeling anxiety or the urge to vomit.
Then my children discovered cheese.
When one of those hard, brown nuggets first fell out of their diapers on my nice, clean floor, you’d have thought a serial killer just fought his way into my house and came after me with a meat cleaver.
Then there was bath time, a few weeks later, when one of my little princes strained, grunted, and added a new toy to the tub. I reacted as if he had just asked to watch Fox News. I immediately removed my children from the bathroom and disinfected everything.
Later that night, after the boys fell asleep and I had a cocktail or three, I explained the episode to my mother.
“Catherine, relax,” she said. “It’s just poop.”
I took a deep breath.
“How do you feel about the F word?” I asked.
My mother gasped.
“Cursing is rude and improper behavior. It should only occur on the toilet with the shower running so no one can hear,” she said.
“That’s exactly how I feel about bowel movements.”
Putting my neurosis aside, why is that kids take a while to get the concept that urinating, pooping, even vomiting is bathroom activity that should only happen on or in the potty? For the first year or two, they seem completely comfortable depositing whatever is inside them wherever they are.
This is why I believe the first thing every parent needs is a steam cleaner. Just accept the fact that little kids are a mess and when you’ve put them back to bed with hugs and kisses, thrown their soiled clothes into the washing machine, scream at your husband about the importance of a vasectomy, grab the steam cleaner and get to work. Problem solved.
Getting frustrated only makes it worse and then those little runts smell a power-grabbing opportunity. You’ll never get them on the potty if they think it’ll pay you back for all those times you said “no.”
Somehow, I managed to keep my disgust under wraps, and my boys were taught to use the potty in a fairly normal way. First I asked around about all the different ways to do it.
Several playgroup colleagues created charts with stars and stickers and smiley faces. They gave toys and held public parades when the potty was utilized successfully.
That seemed a bit too loud for me. I like celebrations low-key and on the rocks.
Another gal suggested I throw Cheerios in the toilet so they’d have fun aiming. When Zachary reached in for a mid-morning snack, I almost had a full-blown panic attack. There went that idea.
Turns out, my mom was right. It is just poop after all. Our kids decide to do it when they are good and ready. Mine were finished with the potty before their third birthday with little or no fanfare.
Mastering the art of vomiting in the toilet was another story.
See? That steam cleaner wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
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