Monday, March 5, 2012

How To Be A Bad Parent.

1.  Vaccinate.    I know.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?  The pediatrician, whom you trusted to care for your newborn and who did squicky things like see how the umbilical cord thing was coming and who also answered your panicky calls at 2am when you were half-hysterical screaming “He’s just breathing weird”?  That guy? 

That guy is shit, and so is his medical degree.

You are not allowed to trust him anymore.  From this point forward, you are solely responsible for the medical well-being of your baby.  Never mind the fact that you got a C in biology.  YOU ARE THE STEWARD OF THIS SHIP, not the pediatrician, who clearly knows nothing.  Because you know what?


Yes.  You are now expected to spend at least fifty hours a week extensively fighting your way through websites with titles like and in order to ascertain, through no medical insight or previous knowledge whatsoever, whether or not what your doctor is telling you is okay is REALLY NOT OKAY.

It’s a conspiracy, and your kindly pediatrician can suck it.   If you ever vaccinate and blithely and naively tell your friends, “Well, the pediatrician recommended it,” expect judgy silences and side-eyes.  You are expected to come to this table with links and references and a bibliography.

2.  Feed The Children Hamburger Helper, Happy Meals, Veggies From Cans, Macaroni and Cheese, or Anything Else Not Hand-Crafted or Tilled By Vegetarian Hippies Living in Yurts.
This one is simple.  If you’re not spending at least 50% of your gross income shopping at Whole Foods and local co-ops for massive crates of organic kale and raw milk, you are killing your kid.  And people will tell you so, in sly ways.  And you will adopt this apologetic air when you admit to anyone that the kid ate a hamburger for dinner.  And you will never, ever mention to anyone that he spilled his French fries in the backseat and may have also ingested a couple of old ones from last week when picking them up.

3.  Put Your Child in Daycare.  This one is awesome, because people will be very open about judging you for it.  The conversation will go something like this:

ORGANIC MOM:  So you work?  What does Little Johnny do during the day?

YOU:  Oh, he’s at Little Tots Daycare.  My husband drops him off and I pick him up in the evening.


YOU:  Do you work?

ORGANIC MOM:  Well, I was going to go back to work.  But then I just couldn’t bear the thought of total strangers essentially raising my child.


4.  Let Your Kid Face Forward In His Carseat Before the Age of Twelve.

If you put your kid face-forward in the carseat at the recommended age (which varies, but is generally somewhere around two years), you are for all intents and purposes wishing upon him a violent, fiery death.   It is not enough to follow the manufacturer’s directions or the state requirements for safety.  It is JUST NOT SAFE ENOUGH. 

(Note:  The person who tells you this will then generally get into her car and start driving away with her rear-facing five-year-old while talking on the phone, drinking a Diet Coke, changing the radio station, and texting other Organic Moms for a Starbucks meet-up.)
5.  The Grandaddy of All Judgments – Formula Feeding.

This one floored me.  Total strangers, coworkers, and family alike will have absolutely no compunction about asking you flat-out after you have a baby whether or not the kid is getting the boob.  And then they will talk authoritatively about colostrum and immune systems and antibodies, even if they’ve never had children.

We didn’t breastfeed.  My OB didn’t think it was a big deal, but then, he was also seventy years old and near death and probably would have let me do a twilight-sleep birth if I asked for one.  Our pediatrician didn’t think it was any big whoop either. 

Armed with that information, I read some literature.  And the only thing my pregnancy-addled, hormone-driven mind managed to retain was the one little snippet about formula-fed babies sleeping longer than breastfed babies.  And the part about the husband being able to have the same bonding experience I did with the baby (read:  Can get up at night sometimes while you sleep blissfully). 

So we formula-fed.  And surprisingly the child did not wither on the vine and die from the lack of our love.  Breastfeeding is a good thing, but not breastfeeding does not mean you’re inviting doom and despair.

But you would not believe the raised eyebrows.  I didn’t expect them, mainly because nobody had asked about my breasts in polite conversation before, unless they were frat boys and we were drunk.  I once had a woman ask me in the grocery store if I was breastfeeding, and when I admitted I wasn’t, she said, meaningfully, “It’s so much healthier.  Not to mention more sanitary than having to use all those bottles.  Yuck.”  And then I noticed that her precious baby was sucking on the car keys she had just dropped on the floor.

The Point:

I have one.

Kids are a lot more hardy than you think they are.  And they’re shockingly adaptable to your flaws and missteps.  If you think you fucked up by not breastfeeding, eh.  Too late now, right?  But presumably the child will not grow up to have a boob fixation unless you also do a shitload of other things entirely and deliberately wrong.

Kids will forgive you.  Organic Moms may not.  But in the end, even the kids of the Organic Moms will have screaming tantrums and bouts of horrendous, fire-hose-like vomiting and yell I HATE YOU and basically, at one point or another, re-enact all the worst parts of “The Exorcist.”

Fuck the Organic Moms.  Give yourself a break already. 

And have you guys tasted Hamburger Helper lately?  It is fucking delicious.