Last year, I posted a video of my kids having an impromptu dance party to “We Are The World,” a classic 80s tune my 7-year-old learned about it in school for some inexplicable reason. (I’m not complaining: “We Are The World” is FIRE!)
In the video, my toddler can be seen dancing along with his older brother, occasionally attempting to mimic his amateur break-dancing moves, all while happily sucking on his pacifier.
It caused a little controversy.
One of the commenters noticed my son’s pacifier and asked about it. He didn’t ask about the weird 30-year-old-song choice, or the ridiculous attempts at break-dancing, or the 20-month-old twerking. Nope. He wanted to know about the pacifier.
“Is there a reason why Hammer is using his pacifier? He is awake and having fun. What does he need his pacifier for? No offence! I just wonder.”
Oh “No offence!” Cool. Cool cool cool. NONE TAKEN, RANDO.
First things first: it’s none of your business. Don’t judge me!
Second of all: why do you care? The dude’s not even two. Pacifiers – and trust me, I’ve looked it up – aren’t considered an issue until after two, and even then, most pediatricians say they needn’t been completely weaned off them until four years. (Nowadays he’s approaching three and we’re just about there.)
And finally: why do you think the little dude is happy and isn’t crying, smart guy? Might the pacifier be helping?
Look, I’m no expert parent, but I have dealt with a toddler before, and one of the things I learned the first time around is to never underestimate the stuff that makes your kids happy. And quiet.
Every parent knows that you have to take some shortcuts sometimes. You have to pick your battles.
This incident – that’s what we’re calling it from now on: THE INCIDENT – occurred at about 6:30 PM on a weekday. I’d just walked in from work, and the boys were jamming out while Mom and Buried was in the kitchen prepping dinner. The kids were actually entertaining themselves and leaving her alone for a few minutes. It was a miracle! Plus, it was super adorable and who doesn’t like “We Are the World?” (COMMUNISTS, THAT’S WHO!)
My wife was grateful for the few minutes of personal space, during which she was actually able to make dinner without the kids scrambling around underneath her feet and/or screaming bloody murder for no reason. And it’s not like my kid is chewing on cigarettes. So where’s the downside?
Whether it’s giving the kids an extra half hour of TV so you can catch an extra half-hour of sleep, or stopping for a Happy Meal because you’re too tired to cook, or letting the toddler ride shotgun because the car seat is covered in pudding (jk – but not about the pudding), it’s okay to let some things slide every once in a while. In fact, it’s necessary! For your sanity. We shouldn’t judge each other for the things we do to survive.
The key phrase being “once in a while.”
Is it a good idea to let Netflix babysit your kids? No. Is it healthy to give them McDonald’s for every meal? No. Is it problematic for your toddler to rely on his pacifier until he’s in elementary school? Probably, but odds are you’re gonna need braces anyway.
I know I make myself a target by putting stuff online. It’s 2018. Judgment is a way of life. Besides, I guarantee there’s something in your parenting closet – in everyone’s – something you do despite the experts frowning upon it, because it keeps the kids quiet, so to hell with the experts!
My 8-year-old has never once used a pacifier, but he still clings to his Lovey, and I guarantee if that was on video someone would have said something about that too. But it helps him sleep, and our family is never happier than when the kids are asleep, so what’s it to you? Why must you judge me? WHY WON’T YOU LET ME BE HAPPY?!
The point is, why are we sweating the small stuff? And why are strangers coming down on us for it? This is parenting, you gotta do what you gotta do.
To quote Michael Jackson: “There’s a choice we’re making. We’re saving our own lives!” And we’re not harming our kids.
So back off!
This post originally appeared on my Facebook page. (And the offending commenter apologized and explained that he wasn’t judging, he was honestly just curious. My bad, stranger. But at least I got a good rant out of it! Yay!)