Mothers Change Diapers, Not Theories
Changing a baby's diaper has always (excuse the expression) ranked right up there with following a garbage truck too closely. It wasn't something a mother refused to do, but she didn't put it on her resume either.
Now an authority on children has suggested if a mother hurries through the job and treats it as a distasteful chore, her attitude could send a negative message to her baby. She says mothers are foolish to waste all that valuable time when they could use it as an opportunity to verbalize with their babies and involve them in the entire process.
You should never scoop the baby up from behind without warning and start to remove his diaper, she says, but should greet him and say, "You are having such a good time with your rubber giraffe, but I'd like to pick you up and change you. Is that all right with you?"
This should be followed by eye contact and more dialogue asking for the baby's complete attention and the mother's undying ecstasy throughout the process.
I don't care what anyone says about laying the foundation for a child's positive self-image ... unless the kid can roll up his own diaper and hook-shot it into a garbage can and put a lid on it, I don't see how we have anything to talk about.
Besides, it's a two-way street. What's to prevent a kid from verbalizing over a diaper change, "Snap it up, frozen fingers, and give me my rubber giraffe back or I'm going to dilute the paint on your newly painted ceiling."
There are a couple of things wrong with this theory. Assuming a mother talked herself into using this time as a celebration of plumbing, what happens when the kids meet other people? No one loves a baby who makes your eyes water, and kids better get used to rejection. It is a lesson that is either learned early or haunts them when you threaten them with a hole in their folding chair at graduation.
Surprise is one of the best things a mother has going for her. Many's the time I've swooped down on a child with a red face like a bald eagle and deposited him, diaper and all, on the bathroom throne just because he "looked" like he was going to "make disgusting."
For centuries, mothers have carved a niche for themselves as world-class martyrs because of their devotion to dry diapers. It is one of the few things we do that fathers are awed by.
Frankly, I resent the fact that someone would think I could diaper babies all those years and not have some rapport with them. There wasn't a time when I did not lean over and whisper in their little ears, "You owe me big for this for the rest of your life. Wet again and the giraffe dies."
(This column was published on Thursday, June 18, 1987 in the Los Angeles Times. Photo credit: TS & EF on flickr )
Magda's response to Erma's column:
July 14, 1987
c/o Los Angeles Times
Times Mirror Square
Los Angeles, California
Please don't kill the giraffe! The giraffe is innocent.
If you must- kill the "authority" (name and address included), though she may have already suffered a close-to-fatal ego burst from being quoted by her favorite humorist, Erma Bombeck.
Feeling rejected is in the mind of the 'rejectee', a healthy dose of "undying ecstasy" could immunize one against all rejections to come.
To enhance our mothers' "undying ecstasy" the same
"authority" also advises them to get their daily dose
of Erma Bombeck humor. (Who do you read for a boost?)
P.S. To make you laugh even more, I am sending you our Manual -- more of the same giraffe stories....
And Erma's response to Magda:
July 30, 1987
Thank God there is someone out there whose humor has remained intact.
I respect what you do and I'm delighted you respect what I do. It's people like you who try to make it a better world, and it's people like me who try to shoot holes in it while it's airborne. I was kidding about the giraffe.
Thanks for your letter and your manual.
P.S. I promise to give you a little peace for awhile.