Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Blanket Training

Dancing on his blanket.
The Internet abounds with stories of Extreme Parenting.  There's the dad blasting his daughter's laptop with a rifle. (Awful, yes, but I'd simply be forced to fist bump the guy if I ever met him. I so understand his take on electronics). There's the Adrian Peterson story which is just too sad for words (and he ain't never getting a fist bump from me).

One of the more bizarre tactics I've encountered is something called Blanket Training. So you have a mobile baby maybe twelve months, eighteen months, and you train the baby to stay on a blanket. The baby, it seems, is highly motivated to stay on the blanket because every time he moves off of it, a loving parent delivers a whack and puts him back on the blanket.

And that's just phase one.

Phase two involves -- and I swear I'm not making this up -- placing the baby on the blanket with a clear command to Stay! and then putting a favorite toy just out of reach. You can probably guess what happens when baby ventures off his blanket to retrieve his favorite train or stuffed animal.

I have two thoughts on the matter:
1. I'm fairly sure these parents are confusing raising children with raising lab rats.
2. Eventually these automatons will reach puberty, and I hope we get an update on how all this worked out in the long run.
While I reject this out of hand, a few recent observations give me pause.

Scenario #1:
We're eating dinner and I've cleared the dining room table but overlooked a paperweight. A nameless child spends the entire meal --- every second -- reaching for the paper weight, fiddling with the paper weight, tossing the paper weight from hand to hand. This goes on and on and on until I'm suddenly thinking that we missed the boat with Blanket Training.

Scenario #2:
We're at Mass and an unidentified child lifts up the hymnal and finds a plastic fork. Let me repeat that: It was a plastic fork. It was not a fifty dollar bill or a live tarantula. It was a plastic fork. I guess it all boils down to an odd juxtaposition. A plastic fork in the cafeteria? Not weird at all. A plastic fork next to the hymnal in church? Weird. Nay, enthralling. Captivating. Mesmerizing. Let's get out the thesaurus and find a few more synonyms for Way More Riveting Than Mass! So long Gospel, so long homily! The questions, oh, the questions! Why is it there? Who left it? What are we going to do with it?

Is there verbal Blanket Training?

Scenario #3:
So I'm at Mass again, this time with two unidentified siblings. Unidentified sibling #1 sneezes and sends a booger flying onto unidentified sibling # 2. Oh, the scandal! Nay, the outrage! I rifle through my purse -- frantically and in vain -- for a tissue and finally scoop up the, ummm, leftovers with a piece of scrap paper. So long Gospel, so long homily! Oh, the questions! Where is the booger? Where did you put it? What are boogers made of? What are we going to do with it? 

Bronze it, I tell you, I'm going to bronze it and hand it to the kid who passes Blanket Training wherein I place a paperweight, a plastic fork, and an actual booger in arm's reach and reward the kid who doesn't touch any of it and who can repeat a single word of a Gospel passage I read during Blanket Training. Most importantly, the winner must refrain from asking a single question.

Sadly, there would be no winners, and I would be stuck with a bronzed booger.

But seriously . . . I sat with a friend today and talked about how parenting is a path to holiness. Self-denial, fortitude, prayer, hope -- parenting demands all this and more. Some days we (I) might not be up to the job, not even a little bit. 

Oh, how I miss this!
But to those parents studying the fine art of Blanket Training -- those planning to have kids but still be free to leisurely shower or read or go get a pedicure -- while their toddler, his curiosity successfully overcome by fear, cowers on a blanket, to them I say this: Parenting isn't easy, and it's not convenient. If you've turned to Blanket Training as some sort of panacea thinking this is the ticket to parenting without interruption, without mess, without unanticipated behavior of any kind, well, you probably should have thought a tad harder about having children in the first place.

Like it not, one day they'll move off the blanket.

A friend of mine told the story of his daughter who passed her driver's test after numerous attempts and then proceeded to run two red lights on the way home from the Department of Motor Vehicles.


While we're still dealing with behaviors outlined in the above scenarios, even I recognize them for the trifles that they are. With a senior in the house, we are also grappling with higher stakes -- college choices, driving, moving out, moving on.

And I force myself on a daily basis to dwell on the fact that God loves my son even more than I do.


Jamie said...

This post made me laugh until I cried, Kelly. Fist bump from the Midwest.

Kelly Dolin said...

Fist bump back, Jamie!