My four year old, Dylan, was quietly playing with some toys on the floor and I relished a few peaceful moments before the baby was due to wake… until I realised from what I was reading on my phone that Dylan was sitting wrong. Yes – you read it correctly. Sitting wrong.
Courtesy of my social media feed I had fallen into an alarming article and discovered that you can actually SIT WRONG. So my four year old is safe, happy and quiet, but now I feel like I have to interrupt him to coach him to sit correctly.
Dylan was sitting with his bottom between his legs with his knees and feet on the floor with the feet pointing outward – what I have learnt now is called ‘W-Sitting’. Apparently ‘W-Sitting’ impacts on development of the pelvis or knee joints or whether my child will become president of the world or something. So now I need to WORRY about it.
Right to Wrong
Not only are there are things I discover out of the blue that are wrong, but even things I think are right are can be considered wrong.
I happily washed my baby’s hair most nights…until I read that it is not good to do it every night and I should restrict it to once a week at the most. Their tiny scalps are very sensitive and too much chemicals and rubbing can damage them or something like that. Gah.
I still do make the bed every morning but now I know that millions of tiny dust mites are thriving in the dark recesses of my tidily made bed and are feeding off my dead skin cells and sweat and potentially contributing to asthma and allergy problems. Although I have discovered in the past few months that an unmade bed exposes the mites to light and will help to kill them, I still cannot leave the covers down each day. I have instead learnt to feel bad about making the bed each day – something I used to feel good about.
I even discovered watching a TED talk that using a car seat for my little one could make little difference in the event of a serious accident. So something that I think I am doing completely right – and still believe is mandatory at all times – can still be considered ‘wrong’ by someone somewhere.
Wrong to Right
To counter all this, I have discovered a few things that I used to feel bad about can be considered acceptable. For example, I read that crying is can be considered to be good for babies as it helps their lungs develop. I am of course not advocating leaving your baby to cry for hours, but if you are in the middle of some ablutions and cannot attend to your darling for a few minutes, now you can think – ‘At least his lungs are forming better’. Good for you.
And I found out from my dental hygienist that it is perfectly okay for my baby or toddler to chew on their toothbrush and not look like they are in any way making a sophisticated attempt to brush their teeth. Apparently chewing on their toothbrush massages the teeth and gums plus it gets the child used to the feel of the toothbrush and into the habit of brushing their teeth which is really the important focus at a very young age.
Pick Your Wrong
Of course, one way to fix this is to never read anything on parenting ever again. The information age obviously has a lot to answer for. But I like reading and will continue with it regardless. So what are the alternatives?
Maybe all we need to do is realise that, as parents, we will be told we are wrong no matter what we do. So we need to pick what we care about and what we don’t. Pick your wrong. I for one will put up my hand to admit that I have never, ever flossed my kids’ teeth. After all, if we did everything we were supposed to do as a parent we would never leave the house.
Also know that if we worry about this stuff all we are doing is stressing ourselves out which is not good for anyone concerned. We feel guilty which is the most useless of all emotions. Guilty for what – caring too much?
The Flip Side
If we are getting down to this type of trivial stuff, these minutiae of parenting, then we really must be doing all the important stuff RIGHT. Let us not worry about W-sitting, making beds or chewing on toothbrushes.
Our kids have food in their tummies, a roof over their heads and they know they are loved – unheard of luxuries for far too many children in the world.
You read this stuff because you want to parent in the best way possible. You feel bad sometimes because you care. And you constantly want to do right because you love your child so much it is ridiculous.
And all that love and kindness simply cannot be wrong.