I know a lot about the 20 kids in my daughter’s class. What I don’t know is who co-slept.
When your children are babies, the sense of responsibility is practically crushing. It all comes down to one major question: “How do I not f*** this kid up?” That manifests in making some very careful choices. How much screen time will you allow? Will you do baby sign language? Breastfeed? Use cloth diapers? For me these neuroses came to a major climax once while shopping for baby toys. My husband wanted to buy a little stuffed duck. The stuffed duck had no educational value, no crinkly stuff to play with, and there was nothing about it that was particularly special, unless you really admired the majestic animal that is the duck. He bought it anyway, and Mr. Waddles became my kid’s favorite thing. Traitor.
The point is, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Breastfeeding will either turn your child into a multilingual wonder child, or it really doesn’t matter that much. Crying it out is either extremely harmful or actually pretty healthy. On and on it goes, and you can drive yourself crazy trying to make the best choices.
The irony, of course, is if you’re that invested in making the right choices, you’re probably already doing a bang-up job at parenting. That won’t stop you from stressing anyway, which is why I am here to tell you that all of that hard work you’re doing is about to not matter at all.
1. Whether or not you breastfed
“Pssst,” I hissed at the little kid sitting across from my daughter during advanced reading group. “Psst! Did you suckle at your mom’s bosom or what?” That’s when they asked me to leave.
2. What kind of diapers you used
What was weird about the first day of school is that no one was even in diapers at all. I felt so overdressed.
3. Baby sign language
I tried baby sign language with my kid. She liked it, too. The other day I asked her if she remembered how to sign “milk” and she asked me to please let her do her homework and stop asking her stuff like that.
4. Sleep training
I was really surprised when my daughter’s kindergarten teacher didn’t ask me if I preferred for her to let my child cry it out, and then I remembered that my daughter wasn’t an infant and made a note to dial back my cough syrup consumption.
5. How you potty trained
Did you use elimination communication? Was your child a late potty trainer? Did you have a sticker chart? An M&M system? These are all examples of questions that no one will ask you, ever.
6. How you gave birth
Hey, look! Another thing that has absolutely no bearing on anything once it’s over! Unless you want to send your birth video for show and tell. If that’s the case, I support that a billion percent, because there is no way that can go wrong even a little.
7. What kind of baby food you made (or didn’t)
“My mom made organic blueberry puree for me when I was a baby!” Little Ava proclaimed on the playground. “My mother used store-bought peas in a pouch,” Jackson replied, sadly. Except that they didn’t because no one even cares at all.
8. Your stance on pacifiers
Once upon a time there was a PTA meeting. “Fourth graders shouldn’t use pacifiers,” mused Sharon. Everyone agreed, and no one went home to write an angry blog about nipple confusion. The end.
9. If you let your child use the iPad once in a while while you were at the DMV or cooking dinner or pooping or whatever
Actually I’m giving this one to the screen time moms. My kid has a nicer iPad than me. It’s school-issued.
10. Day care
Are day care kids better or worse than ones that stayed with a parent? I don’t know, because there comes a magical age somewhere right before puberty where children from all backgrounds have an unspoken contest to be the absolute worst all the time.