So yesterday we spent the day at the beach with two other families that we are friends with. Between us, we have 8 kids. I have 4 so I win!…oh, right. Not a competition. Must repeat this mantra over and over: Not a competition not a competition…
But one of the families has two small boys, ages two and a half and 6 months.
The littlest human was pretty good, all things considered – he was quite content to sit on his mother’s lap, then his father’s lap, then his auntie’s lap. He did hang out on the blanket under the umbrella for awhile while his father hovered above him lest any sunlight dapple his fragile 6 month old skin.
Eventually though, he got cranky. Not the father. The 6 month old.
So I suggest, “Why don’t you put him down for a nap.”
Both parents look at me like I suggested we put him on a raft and push him out into the middle of the lake.
“He doesn’t nap,” says the mother. “You know, at home there’s so much going on with the two year old always poking at him, he just never relaxes enough to fall into a deep sleep. Sometimes though, if I stay with him, he’ll nap in my arms.”
I said nothing. I’m not about to judge how people raise their kids. Frankly, I couldn’t give a shit. I’m done that part of parenting. If you want to spend 15 hours with kids hanging off you, well my darling, you go right ahead.
Apparently though, that’s not the reaction that my friend was looking for. My friend repeats the part about the baby not napping during the day because there is so much going on in her home. So much going on in her home. How do I not respond to this?
I don’t like coming across as a know-it-all, but sometimes I just have to admit that I do have some experience in the child rearing department. I’ve had four kids. People don’t like it when others start sharing their advice. And if I’d had only one child, maybe I wouldn’t feel like such an expert…oh, who are we kidding, yes I would.
But the point is, I’ve had four. I am a fucken expert.
I point out to my friend that the two year old can be put in his room for an hour of “quiet time” while she settles the baby, so that nobody is “poking” at him.
“Well, the baby won’t go in his crib.”
Alright, not getting into this. Breathing deeply. Don’t want to act like I know it all. Just return to the beach blanket and nobody gets hurt.
Baby continues to fuss because baby needs a fucken nap. But I say nothing.
Then my friend ASKS me, “How do you think I should go about potty training the two year old?”
I reply, “Don’t. Eventually he’ll just tell you he doesn’t want the diaper anymore.”
At this point, all parents present shoot me this look. Like I’m a fucken idiot. What did I mean, “Don’t potty train?” Of course you have to potty train. He can’t stay in diapers forever.
“He won’t be in diapers forever,” I say. “It’s not like he’ll be 10 years old, going to school in diapers.”
Well, it’s true.
Yet still nobody is speaking. They’re all just looking at me like I’m talking out of my ass.
People, I’ve had four kids. I know about potty training.
But I have to then go into my shpeel about how my first son was out of diapers by the time he was 24 months old. But I stress that I was the one who was potty trained. I knew to recognize the signals.
I recognized the look on his face when he was about to crap his pants. I was the one lunging at him, scooping him up while sprinting for the nearest toilet (God help me if I was in the Superstore where the bathrooms are located 2 kilometres away at the other end of the fucken grocery store), then plunking his ass down on the toilet, hoping that I made it in time.
Yet, most parents think that when their kids are out of diapers, they’re potty trained.
I explain the story of the second child who was out of diapers at the age of 26 months, but peed his pants until he was four years old.
My friends from the beach are like, “You should have just left him in his wet underwear, eventually he would have caught on, and wouldn’t have peed his pants anymore.”
My husband and I look at each other and burst out laughing. Ah the ignorant bliss of having zero experience yet thinking you know what you’re talking about.
I explain that not only did I leave the kid in his pissy pants all day, but the kid would be standing in front of me, talking to me, all the while peeing. We just kept him outside a lot. This way my hard wood floors didn’t get ruined.
I continue on with the third and fourth children, explaining that I just did nothing. By the time my daughter was almost three, she told me, “Take this shitty diaper off me, it’s gross.” Not verbatum.
And my youngest son pretty much did the same thing.
I did not buy those little dinosaur-shaped potties and put it in front of the television so they could pee and watch Barney. I did not buy Pull-Ups. I did not put Fruit Loops in the toilet so they could aim at it while urinating. I did not give candy everytime they made it to the toilet in the knick of time. I did not cut down their fluid consumption so that they wouldn’t have “accidents” when we were out in a public place.
I did nothing with the last two. I just said, “When you don’t want to wear your diaper anymore, let me know.”
And they did. And they never had one single “accident.”
Still though, all parents are looking at me like somehow I must have done something wrong. Because potty-training is an actual event in a child’s life. They sell books on this topic. Surely waiting for your child to be ready and to verbalize that he/she is ready must be wrong.
My friend then looks away from me and looks to the other mother, and says, “Yeah, so what do you think I should do?”
What do I know. I’ve only had four kids. I wonder how many more I would need to have before my advice is credible?
Sometimes, it’s ok to admit that you do know it all. I know a lot about child rearing from the ages of 0-14. After that, I don’t have a clue.
Last night, I was out going for a walk with my 14 year old when a van of rowdy teenagers drives by and screams obscenities at us.
I notice that my son has made a hand gesture. So I say, “Did you just flip them the middle finger? Good for you!”
He’s like, “No Mom, I just waved at them. I figured you can’t fight fire with fire.”