The other day I congratulated my 4 year old for wiping his own ass.
“You’re such a big boy!” I cheered.
“Yep and soon I’ll be a ‘dult’ and then you’ll be dead….”
I’m pretty sure he has no idea how profound that statement was, but his logic is well beyond his years.
My son’s journey to wiping his own ass has been a long one. Put simply, he strongly prefers for someone else to do it for him. He is perfectly capable of wiping on his own, but when we are at home, the scenario is always the same. He goes to the bathroom. He poops. Then he yells at the top of his lungs, “I’m done!!!!”
We do our best to get in there right away, but this is real life and we’re working people with 3 small kids. Sometimes it takes a couple minutes for us to get there and help. You’d think this reality would prompt him to start wiping on his own. But no… he doesn’t budge. He just sits there persistently yelling “I’m do–one!!” about every 30 seconds until someone comes and wipes his ass.
I’ve been thinking about why he won’t wipe his ass, and I’ve come up with four explanations:
- He has some level of comfort in mine and my husband’s ass-wiping abilities and he enjoys those intimate ass-wiping moments.
- He isn’t aware of his own abilities. Whether it’s true or not, he feels that if we wipe his ass, we will do it better, faster, more comfortably, and with less mess.
- He is a little lazy, and just needs that push to remind him that wiping his butt is pretty easy to do on his own. Someday he won’t have us around to wipe his ass, and let’s face it, I only look forward to the days when my time is spent doing much cooler things than wiping ass.
- We’ve always wiped his ass so he just doesn’t know any other way. Why should he wipe his ass when there is someone else there to do it?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and fear that I’m setting him up to have a crusty ass in Kindergarten. When and why did parents become so hands on, and for so long? I know our parents were not this way.
These days, there are a lot of ways we wipe our kids’ asses. Whether it’s:
- Picking up after them when they’ve inconsiderately left a mess.
- Not making them do basic chores like rinsing their dishes, folding their laundry or keeping their rooms clean.
- Controlling their school experience by being overly present or harassing the teachers or school administration when we think they’ve been treated unfairly.
- Running to their rescue and coddling them the moment they scrape their knee, or…
- Following them around like we’re their shadow everywhere they go including practices, playdates, and birthday parties.
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There’s so much more. The ass-wiping pandemic is pervasive in modern parenting.
But here’s the thing… When I wipe my son’s ass, I think I am helping, and I’m NOT! In fact, I am ripping him off, stealing from him, and setting him up for failure and self-esteem issues. Harsh, right? But it’s true.
You know that great feeling you get when you’ve accomplished something big? When you’ve put in a load of effort, you’ve applied your brilliance, or you’ve created something that changes a life or even the world. Each moment that we condition our children to depend on us unnecessarily, we are robbing them of THAT amazing feeling.
I think this post needs to come with a little homework
The beginning of the school year is just a few weeks away. When it starts, there will be a number of opportunities for us to make a choice.
- Will we “help” them with their school projects (this is usually code for do it for them) or will we give them the space to find their own creativity and enjoy the accomplishment of bringing their own ideas to life?
- Will we follow them like a tail, or will we loosen the leash and allow them to safely walk out of our sight sometimes.
- Will we call their teachers (or other parents every time they have an issue), or will we talk them through how to resolve issues on their own?
- Will we keep wiping their ass, or will we point them to the toilet paper?
I invite you to join me in a parenting revolution. Join me as I journey into a world where wiping your own ass feels better than having someone else do it for you. Because it’s easier, because its empowering, because it’s part of growing up. We have the power to spread that joy.
Fellow moms and dads, I really hope to see you there.