Dear Judgey McJudgerson,
This is the picture you shared on Facebook today. You were shocked. Aghast. Horrified. Can you believe it? There are some parents (lazy jerks, I bet) who actually use these things to get their child to use the potty. I mean, just look at this thing. What’s next? Those levitating chairs from Wall-E?! It’s sick, I tell you. SICK.
Your judgey friends chimed in as well:
“That’s so disturbing.”
“This is only for lazy parents. I would sit next to the potty and read my daughter BOOKS when we were potty-training!”
“Wow…really? Ever heard of INTERACTING with your child instead of plopping him down in front of a SCREEN?!”
“Whatever happened to small treats, like a sticker or a cookie? I guess I’m just old-fashioned that way!”
“What has our society BECOME??!”
Judgey, let me introduce you to my son.
Henry has Spina bifida. In about a year, we will begin something called a bowel program for him. Henry has no bowel control. I know, I know what you’re thinking: What baby does have bowel control? That’s what I thought for a long time, anyway.
You know when babies crawl around on the floor, and then they stop what they’re doing, their faces turn red, and they strain VERY OBVIOUSLY to push something out? And that “something” turns out to be poop? Those babies can control their bowels.
For Henry, he poops (and pees) pretty much all day long. It just comes right out. No straining, no pushing. No notice at all, actually, and we’re not sure how much he’s even able to feel down there. Regardless, he can’t control his bowel movements. Poop just pops out of him randomly. (Which, let me tell you, makes me feel like a super shitty parent, no pun intended. People have been known to pick up Henry, wrinkle their noses, and hand him back to me — oops, a poopy diaper! Mommy must not have realized! What they don’t know is that I just got done changing a poopy diaper five minutes ago. And ten minutes before that. And thirty minutes before that. Kids with Spina bifida tend to have lots of really bad diaper rash — is it any surprise?)
So. My point. In a year or so, we’ll have to start a bowel program for this guy, in order to keep him “socially continent.” This means that we’ll perform something called an enema, either once a day or every 48 hours or so, that completely flushes out his bowels so he won’t poop at all during the day. This will allow him to be around other kids and other parents without being the “stinky one.” Great, right?
Here’s what you don’t know about enemas: Kids who get enemas — which is most of the kids who have spina bifida or any kind of spinal cord damage — have to sit on the potty for a long, long time. Much longer, in fact, than a child with typical bowel control. Enemas flush out a lot of poop, so they take a while to work. Kids who use enemas for their bowel program can sit on the potty for forty-five, sixty, or sometimes even upwards of ninety minutes.
Judgey, when was the last time you had to get your toddler to do anything for upwards of ninety minutes?
Will we purchase this iPad toilet? That remains to be seen.
But, Judgey, you better believe that if this thing gets my son to sit on the toilet for ninety minutes, I’m going to purchase the hell out of it. And I won’t be one bit sorry.
Know what I think? This thing is freaking great. It’s a masterpiece. Potty training is hard, with a bowel program or without, and whatever keeps your kid socially continent and potty-trained before they go to kindergarten, I’m all for.
And you know what else? I’m just gonna say it. All types of parents buy these kinds of things for their kid. Maybe they have a child who is fully potty-trained EXCEPT for poop, and getting her to sit still and poop in the toilet for more than thirty seconds is an impossibility without some screen time (I have one of those children). Maybe they have a kid with really bad sensory issues, and they need some hardcore distraction because poop just feels weird. Or maybe their kid just won’t sit still and kindergarten is fast approaching and they’ll try anything because they’re desperate.
My point, Judgey, is that there are millions of different kinds of people, and there are millions of different ways of parenting. You’ve appointed yourself the Official Worrier of Other People’s Children and Society In General, and you’ve decreed it a crime against humanity to use one of these things to toilet train, because technology will rot their brains!. And relationships will suffer. And WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?!. But if you step outside of your self-righteous little bubble, maybe you could learn to appreciate a parent whose kid hasn’t potty-trained as easily as yours. And maybe instead of judgment, you can offer compassion. Or understanding.
Or maybe just mind your own freaking business.