Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Naked Baby On Deck And Other Ideas About Parenting

The serious amateurs enjoying a bath circa 2008.

I often give a high level of detail on this blog, saying such information is for academics and serious amateurs. The serious amateurs would be my kids, who troll these pages looking for insights as to why I'm such a nutcase.

Although I can't answer that question outright, I can continue to provide information about the evolution of my thinking that could, under the correct lens of interpretation, shed light on my bizarre nature.

When my wife and I first started with the kid project back in 2002, we were confident we would do everything right. We read books, consulted with grandmothers and other experts, rejected all opinions we disagreed with, and basically did everything wrong. Our kids survived, somehow.

One concept that did resonate was that good parents were supposed to bathe their kids every few weeks or so. So when bath time did arrive it was an exciting event for everyone involved. The first step in the process was freeing the nippers from clothing and diapers, which resulted in the kids running around screaming joyfully.

To alert the command structure of the critical situation, the parent supervising the fracas would yell, Naked baby on deck! This way the other parent knew there were free-range, diaper-free kids running about and could help monitor the time. We had learned the hard way what happens when anything less than a strict, pseudo-military protocol was in place.

This notion that martial language and posturing would somehow elevate our parenting to a higher form of efficiency and quality was ingrained in my psyche, perhaps because I came of age during the Cold War, where dramatic security scenarios were illustrated in schools and popular entertainment.  

Another example, when a child would soil her/himself so completely an entire change of clothes was necessary, this was called a Brezhnev, named for the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev. My image of the hard-line, unyielding Communist embodied the thought that with this situation there was no negotiation, mediation, room for maneuver, or even discussion -- get the kid a complete change of clothes pronto.

Nowadays the panic and stress of the early years has given way to a simmering dread that even with the right philosophy and execution the kids will do whatever the hell they want, so why bother?

Still, old habits die hard. Nowadays before I go for a walk I might wear a hat with a political organization on it. On patrol! I yell to the house, alerting them I am now going out to engage the world in a political manner. Once on my walk, however, I become lost in thought and can't remember what is on my head anyway. For the record, I have not received one comment about my politics or hat while "on patrol." Still, when I return home I inform the house I am off patrol.

I leave it others to diagnose my condition. Until then, the command structure abides.



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