Saturday, May 7, 2011

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Anonymous, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that I perhaps didn't explain myself clearly enough when I described how Will went #2 at the zoo. This was the comment:

"Yeah, let your not-even-3-year-old go potty by themselves at the zoo. Great idea. Not to mention the incredible amount of germs he probably touched since you were not in there. Good parenting."

This is what I had posted:

He still is shy about pooping in front of me. I know a deuce is on its way when he asks, "Mommy, you leave me alone, please?" I honor his request and stand outside of the stall, keeping the door shut with my hand and feeling a mixture of pride and a tug of sadness that he's "got this" on the other side.

To clarify, here is what I did:

I walked him in to the stall itself, helped him get his pants and underwear down, put one of our very own seat liners down, and physically put him on the potty. I then crouched right in front of him and he nicely asked me to leave him alone, and I believe respecting the privacy of my not-yet-three year old is important when he needs private time to use the bathroom. I certainly don't like an audience, so I appreciate this need. So, while guess you could say he was "alone," I was on the other side of the stall door, with my hand on the door, keeping it closed. I was within a quick arm's reach of him at all times and opened the door a few times to check on him during his. . .process. When he told me that he was finished, I came in, helped him off of the toilet, wipe and flush, and then pull up his pants. We washed his hands thoroughly with soap and water and used hand sanitizer when we were finished and back at the stroller (oh, and after we fed the birds and visited the petting zoo, too!).

I didn't put all of those details in the last post, because if I could be accused of anything, it would be hovering and protecting my children too much. I guess I figured that any regular readers would have just assumed the above information. I take my parenting and the safety of my children very seriously, so I guess you got my hackles raised with an insinuation to the contrary.

There are two issues within your comment: safety and germs. First and foremost, no, I would not let my children go into a public restroom by themselves. At the zoo, at a restaurant, at the local toddler gym, anywhere. He is just too young. He doesn't go anywhere by himself.

The second issue you raised is exposure to germs. Germs are everywhere. The keyboard you typed your comment on is riddled in icky, nasty germs. The phone you use, the grocery cart you shop with, the book your child reads. Everything has bugs on it. Everyone has bugs on them! In fact, if you were take a nasal swab out of your very own nose? Guess what you'd find? Germs! 25 to 30% of the U.S. population has MRSA (that's the BIG! BAD! SCARY! HOSPITAL DRUG RESISTANT! BACTERIA!) colonizations (that's the presence of the bacteria that is not causing any adverse reactions - infection - in the host). The best thing we can do for our children is to expose them to naturally occuring bacteria while they are young. It builds immunity. Also, there are even good bacterias that live within our body that do good things for us that we need to be healthy. This is why hand sanitizers are somewhat controversial. So, yes, I let my child use public restrooms and toddler gyms and sit in grocery carts. Because I do what I can to keep him healthy, but I also know that he will be exposed to nasties despite my best intentions and you can't keep kids in a bubble. I plan to do the same with Emma. Now, I do realize that some children have special health needs where you might need to be more careful about exposure to germs, but I am blessed with two healthy children so I don't need to be extreme.

Now that I have clarified my actions and my position, what would you have done/do differently? What did you do when you were potty training your children? And if you truly felt my that I had made a poor judgment issue, why the need to be so catty about it? How about offering an alternative or e-mailing me privately? Or both? Your comment doesn't seem to come from a place of true caring and concern for my children, but rather a place of judgment (well, I certainly felt judged).

My bigger issue here? Judging another parent when you didn't know the whole story. It reminds me of the video parodies on this blog. Parents can be so mean to each other. While I hate that; the judgment, the derision, the lack of understanding of another persons' situation, I do love making fun of it, because it is just. so. pointless. We are all on the same team here, even it we might make different plays. I want the very best for my children and I do my very best to make that happen. I stumble along the way, make mistakes, and learn from others. I am sure that if you are a parent, anonymous, you are the same way. We all want the best for children; ours and others. So, why so much competition? Why the need to be derisive?

This isn't just for anonymous. I see this type of stuff everywhere. The MommyWars, the DaddyBattles, whatever you want to call them. And I don't like it. I seek to understand and learn from others. Will we always make the same parenting decisions? Absolutely not! But can we respect diversity along the way? I certainly hope so!

Can't we all just get along?


HereWeGoAJen said...

Maybe it is just me, but it seems like the parenting police have been out a lot lately on the blogs. No one knows your own children as well as you.

I don't think you did anything wrong. Of course, my opinion doesn't matter, yours does, as they are your children.

Also, I think part of being an excellent parent is modeling polite behavior for your children and teaching them not to be judgmental.

Searching said...

My eyes are rolling so hard they are about to fall out of my head. Geeeeeez!!!

It Is What It Is said...

I can't even believe you dignified an anonymous commenter with a response when the comment was obviously so asinine to begin with. I am sorry you felt the need to clarify or defend for the idiot masses. And, quite frankly, in answer to the question you posed in your post, where would "they" be if we all just got along. "They" don't want that, be sure.

kim said...

Not once did it enter my mind that Will was alone in the bathroom, yes the stall, the bathroom no. Also, what parent doesn't wash their child's hands with soap after using a toilet?? That was a given...Right? Some people are so literal, I guess you didn't outline the steps well enough. Sheeesh.

Patty said...

I am so distressed that this "anonymous" commenter would choose to chastise you. You did the right thing with Will and I can't imagine anyone with half a brain thinking that you did something wrong. I agree with Searching Geeeezzzz!

Sophie said...

Hmmm. I don't blog, but I'm glad you do because I get alot of inspiration and support from reading. But geez, what a PITA.

Rachel said...

As a very long-time reader, the last thing I can imagine you doing is endangering your child in any possible way. Just had to write that.

Of course, I'll also admit that reading your blog post made me feel incredibly guilty. We are a bit lax about the disinfectant around here, and given the challenge of lifting the fusspot up to the sink to wash her hands while holding Project 2.0, I'd say that her hand-washing is superficial at best when we are out and about. And yet I just trust that she will survive, much as I did as a child, with slightly dirty hands along the way. If you have any tricks for getting safely through the public restroom routine with 2, I'd love to hear it (it's obviously not a problem when I have the double stroller out with me, but I am often carrying the baby in a sling and pushing the fusspot in a single stroller) so I have no safe place to put the baby down.

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

I saw that was stoopid! You're an awesome parent...

Joy@WhenDoesDaddyComeHome said...

Arg - I cannot even formulate a response to this. I missed the post about the zoo but I most likely wouldn't have batted an eyelash to your son going to the bathroom on his own. Seriously? Do people really have nothing better to do than nitpick others?

Ludicrous Mama said...

You clearly stated that you were on the other side of the STALL door, not the PUBLIC RESTROOM door. And please. My kid touches grosser stuff while I'M on the potty and she's in the stall with me. They can't really reach too much stuff while trapped on the seat! And *gasp* some bathrooms have this newfangled stuff called "running water" and "soap!"
Sheeoot. I stopped using baby wipes on my daughter's hands in between food and play at McDonalds because she just likes to come back and forage so much, I got tired of it!