Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Justify, my love.

Why do we as parents feel like we have to justify every single thing we do? Like, we went to our WIC appointment the other day (your tax dollaz, hard at work) and the nutritionist mentioned that a Certain Little Boy needed to be giving up his 3 bottles-a-day any time now. I told her I understood the worry about tooth D-cay and that I was going to start brushing his teeth after bottles, but that while he would drink vast amounts of water from a sippy cup, he simply won’t drink milk from a cup, sippy or otherwise. So the bottles would be difficult to give up. She said, “Well, as long as he’s off by 15 months, he should be fine.” Or else. . .what?

Of course, I didn’t question this, and spent the rest of the day fretting that I’d start finding tiny decayed teeth laying around the apartment, lodged in his favorite board books, lined up in rows on his bookshelf. I Imagined him, all toothless in his high school graduation pictures or, better yet, with a couple gold teeth up in his griiiill.

So of course, as I am wont to do, I formulated a plan: cold turkey off the bottle. Well, I managed to get him to take a whopping 6 ounces of milk via cup the next day, and I held off on bottles as long as I could. However, by bedtime, we were both exhausted and pretty cranky, so he got an 8-ounce bottle. Since he was about 10 ounces shy for his daily milk intake, he of course woke up for a night bottle, and I decided we’d just have to live with the fallout: bottles aren’t going anywhere for now.

And here’s the thing: I felt like I needed to justify this. I actually found myself saying things like, “But don’t lots of babies breastfeed way after their 2nd birthdays? Why are bottles so evil?” and “Well, at least they’re not his permanent teeth.” Um, I’m sorry, WHAT? Let’s put aside the fact that having bottles past the Deemed-Appropriate Age has never, to my knowledge, messed anyone up wicked bad. What’s more disturbing is how quickly I thought of ways to justify my choice to refuse to follow Status Quo Thinking. I mean, it’s like eating cheeseburgers in bulk while you’re pregnant (which I also did), right? People would think I was a terrible parent!

What I’ve realized is that anyone who would judge me for putting what’s best for my kid at this stage of his life before what I think of people who think I’m ruining him for not following the advice of someone who’s never even met him are jerks. (Wow. longest. run-on. sentence. ever.) It was a good lesson to learn: sometimes, you gotta trust that you know your kid best, and you don't need to justify that to anyone but yourself and him (or her). Anyone else feelin' this?