"normal' versus "common"

i recently went to a theme park with friends and took my then 23 month old baby to the bathroom. i was immediately accosted by two mothers who began raving that they couldn't believe my baby was potty-trained. they literally followed him to his stall and watched me stand him on the toilet ring and we had to gently shut the door in their astounded (and yes - somewhat inebriated - it was almost 10 pm and the park was closing) faces! true, he was the size of a 9 month old at the time as he's very small for his age - and i wondered how they would have reacted if they'd seen him trotting into a public stall when he first potty-trained at 18 months, when he was the size of a 6 month old.

i have five children, all potty-learned completely between 18 and 23 months, even through the night. i think the biggest reason for this is we didn't use disposable diapers - we used cloth - and i watched my babies closely for cues that they had to go when they became mobile and actively tried to get them to the bathroom in time (a lazier version of elimination communication) - and lots of naked time ! disposable diapers are full of toxic chemicals that studies show can harm the reproductive organs and may be contributing to the high rates of infertility in our country. i believe they can disrupt the signals to a child's brain that they have to go to the bathroom, as well . not to mention the fact that the 'stay-dry' technology (aka class-A carcinogenic polyacrylate gel - or that funny crystal-looking, rubbery stuff you sometimes find in your baby's creases around or on their genitals...) means that they don't get that signal of wetness, telling them they've just gone. most people these days also seem to feel naked children are taboo and therefore i think kids are seeing less cause and effect to help w/ potty-learning .

we have all hardwood floors, when my babies go on the floor while crawling or toddling around, they feel it coming, see it hit the floor, see & help me clean it up, see and help me put it in the toilet, see and participate in handwashing . what do babies in disposable diapers see and feel ? almost nothing . no cause and effect reactions, no immediate removal of their waste - and when it does get taken away, i've never seen a mother scrape one into the toilet like they're supposed to, it all just goes in the trash - that's got to be confusing ! not to mention devastating to our planet .

i also think it is a huge self-perpetuating cycle. it is not unusual at all for entry to kindergarten to be delayed these days because a child is not potty-trained. in fact, parents have tried to bring pressure to bear on many school districts to allow their children into school regardless - i guess by 5 they can practically change their own diapers ? at any rate, i am hearing more and more moms say "well, s/he's just not ready, the dr. said you can't push them and it's normal for some kids to need a little longer."

these same moms absolutely can't believe that my 18 month old was potty trained and swarmed to ask me what my 'trick' was, which 'method' worked for me, which book or video could they buy to try out?

when i explained it was basically spending time interacting w/ and observing my babies, cleaning up many messes, letting them run around naked.... their eyes always go dull as they lose all interest . they didn't know they actually had to stop their lives and get in tune w/ their children, they'd rather stick w/ their convenience item than do that.

who ever said kids were going to be easy - why do so many people who become parents act as if they never expected to have their own lives, schedule and routines disrupted ? are we really so entitled and self-serving we can't open ourselves up to the beautiful chaos of learning along w/ our children as we put everything else aside and let them show us what they need ?

so the more parents that see children in diapers longer, the more normalized it becomes and the more parents are fine with letting it happen . i've seen my children's mouths drop open as we've entered a public bathroom and seen a mother changing the diaper on a child old enough to be in school and almost breaking the diaper changing station off the wall as the child lays there playing a handheld video game and directing his mother as to how hard she's wiping him. it looked and smelled like an adult had moved his bowels in that giant diaper, it was shocking to me that every instinct a mother had wouldn't tell her this wasn't right.

i had a pediatrician tell me it is flat out impossible for an 18 month old to go without peeing all night, their bladders are simply not big enough . i laughed when i replied, "then how do you explain my kids, all 5 of them have done it ! and my grandmother had 10 - during the depression she had to put dishcloths on the babies - and everyone in the family says most of them were potty trained by about a yr - even through the night - and my great grandmother had 14 and reported the same
experience !" spend any amount of time talking to elderly parents and you will hear the same thing.

it's becoming the new norm because so many people are doing it. just like mothers who 'didn't make enough milk' since the aggressive marketing and distribution of formula. back when women were having an average of 8 children, you never heard of this, now it's almost the norm. so many issues parents are dealing with today are becoming labeled 'normal'. plagiocephaly because they get left in their car seat carriers and forced to sleep only on their backs too long ? oh, that's normal ! they make helmets that will fix that right up ! i'm even seeing babies in baby food and formula ads w/ flattened backs to their heads now - as if this is the ideal, healthy baby . this is a deviation, a distortion in the normal shape of our babies' heads that is being caused because it's more convenient to leave them in a car seat carrier than to carry and hold them- or for goodness' sake, pop them into a sling !

speech disorders because they suck on bottles, pacis and sippies for way too long ? that's normal - just take them to speech therapy classes before they start school ! overweight because of their diet and lack of exercise ? that's normal, kids are just made bigger these days because of all the hormones in our foods - nothing you can do about that !

ah, the double-edged sword that is progress! my new mantra is:
" 'common' is *NOT* the same as 'normal' "
i see very little that is biologically - or even psychologically! - normative when it comes to how we raise children today.

when even the growth charts and scales are changed to reflect unnatural feeding practices, mothers who are truly practicing biologically normative infant feeding get left in the lurch. our babies literally can't measure up - because we aren't bulking them up on proteins meant for a beast weighing up to a ton with several stomachs. it's a very strange position to be in, to *know* you are doing things the way they were meant to be done, the best way for your child's health & development... and yet find yourself fighting the tide at every step. ~ welcome to my life ! ~


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