Please, please, please, think it through very carefully before you blog about your children’s bowel movements, or post a You Tube video of your child dancing naked and singing about successful defecation, and then zoom in for a close-up of the chef d’oeuvre the little prodigy has produced in the potty. You don’t think people do this? Think again. They do, but there’s a good reason not to. I’m not saying don’t do it because I’m prissy and think it’s gross. There’s a legitimate, non-prissy reason not to do it, and it’s important.
In about a dozen years, that kid who today is singing about his or her excrement is going to be in high school. Do you remember how mean kids can be in high school? If not, did you see Mean Girls? Or better yet, read Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons, a horrifying window on the sick little world girls can make of school.
Imagine your potty-dancing daughter of two and a half when she’s fifteen. She’s sweet, pretty, a little shy, easily embarrassed, and has a mad crush on the same boy her school’s Teen Queen of Mean likes. Do you have any idea what it’s going to be like for your beloved and fragile daughter when that teen virago in her class Googles her and finds your blog, in which you wrote at great and loving length about the contents of your daughter’s diapers and what escaped the diapers, and the initial frustrations and ultimate triumphs of toilet training. Maybe there’s even a picture or two of the naked little cherub standing next to a potty filled with her first outside-the-diaper bowel movement. The Teen Queen of Mean chuckles to herself, and hits the “Share this on Facebook” button.
The absolute prize for embarrassing your future teenage child is this. I’m linking, but I’m not naming the child or parent in question, because I don’t want it to turn up on search engines. You’ll understand why if you read the whole thing. The sad thing is, this father has actually turned his baby blog into a book that has been published. There’s a link to the book on Amazon.com if you explore the website, but I’m not posting the link.
The more Mommy Blogs (and Daddy Blogs, but there are far more of the mommy variety) I read, the more I realize that it probably hasn’t even occurred to a lot of parents to think of their babies and toddlers as future adults. They’re so little now that it’s almost inconceivable, I suppose. As evidence for my hypothesis that hardly anyone thinks about this, I submit the case of Jon and Kate Gosselin.
I’ve written well over a hundred posts on this blog, and only two of those (this one and this one) have been about the Gosselin family. Nevertheless, according to my stat program, this is the top ten list of keyword searches that have brought people to my blog:
hate kate gosselin
i hate kate gosselin
kate gosselin shrew
reasons to oppose obama
kate gosselin tummy tuck
hate the gosselins
kate gosselin is a shrew
Two of them are for my blog name, one for Obama (which makes sense, since I wrote a lot more about him than about the Kate Gosselin), and the other seven – seven! – about the Gosselins, and mainly about Kate Gosselin, whom a lot of people apparently (a) hate, and (b) think is a shrew. Keyword searches for my name (in both correctly and incorrectly spelled versions) didn’t even make the top ten list because of all the permutations of Gosselin hatred clogging it up.
So what does Kate Gosselin have to do with what I’ve been saying about toilet training? Here’s a clip from Jon & Kate Plus 8 that shows one of the sextuplets in training, with all the future-teen-embarrassing elements discussed above.
My point here isn’t to jump on the “I hate Kate” bandwagon, and I don’t make a habit of insulting other mothers. My point is that the Gosselins have allowed their children’s toilet training to occur on national TV, and amid all the choruses of “I hate Kate” there isn’t much said about the public potty training. People (mainly women) criticize Mrs. Gosselin for taking freebies, for being lazy, for nagging her husband, for being too hard on her kids, for being vain, for being this, that and the other, but nobody seems to think anything much of her making the bowel movements of future adults – and, more to the point, perhaps, future teenagers – a public spectacle.
In the video clip, Mrs. Gosselin says she knows some people are offended by the pictures, but insists that it’s part of the children’s history, and that they’re proud of themselves. Now they are, to be sure, but now they’re two or three years old. When they’re fifteen, they’re unlikely to be all that proud of doing what every other civilized member of the human race does as a matter of course. They’re far more likely to be embarrassed because their classmates can watch re-runs of them doing it on cable TV.
I repeat, I do not write this to attack Mrs. Gosselin – or Mr. Gosselin either, since he must approve as well. The point I am trying to make is that no one is talking about the privacy rights of these future adults. Mrs. Gosselin talks about people being offended. I’m not offended by the sight of feces; what mother of four could be? It has nothing to do with being disgusted, and everything to do with respecting individuals’ privacy, even if those individuals are not yet old enough to care about it themselves. I don’t think Kate Gosselin and the army of mommy bloggers bloggging away about their children’s BMs are bad mothers. I think it simply doesn’t occur to a lot of parents that their cute, chubby little cherubs are future adults who will have varying degrees of personal reticence and modesty. Some of them will laugh at the potty dance videos and not care that they were made public. Others will be mortified.
We, as parents, have no way of knowing what kind of teenagers and what kind of adults our toddlers will grow up to be. But grow up they will, and we would do well to remember it.