Friday, January 23, 2009

To EC or not to EC. (THAT is the question?)

I like to think of myself as pretty worldly. I live in the Big City. I've seen some things. And when it comes to raising kids, I'm pretty willing to try anything.

ALMOST anything.

I was at the Children's Library yesterday, chatting with a Brooklyn mama. She was typical Park Slope - smart, artsy, the kind of woman who composts and wears spectacular glasses. We were talking childrearing and about halfway through the conversation she asked if we practiced EC.

"EC?" I asked innocently.

EC. It stands for "Elimination Communication" and apparently it's the latest latest. For those who aren't in the know, EC is a sort of a back-to-basics potty training. For years, women without access to diapers had to learn to follow their infants' cues to know when they needed to do their business. People eventually realized that you could successfully potty train your child by simply anticipating their needs and it started catching on in the Attachment Parenting circles. Brooklyn Mama was doing it with her daughter and finding it surprisingly easy, managing (as she so delicately put it) to "catch" most of her daughters poops and pees. Did I mention that EC is diaper-free?

Oh yeah. Diaper-free.

How spectacular would that be? Mind melding with your baby means NO DIAPERS. No diapers means no trash, no trash means no landfill, no landfill means more planet, plus you'd never have to navigate the choppy waters of potty training! PLUS you could totally pretend to be a Vulcan! It's a win-win-win-win-win!

Needless to say, by the third "win" my Inner Midwesterner was grabbing for the Pampers.

See, here's the thing - as far as I think I've come with my PBA-free lotions and Greenmarket produce and organic-yogurt-with-flax-seed-oil-and-wheat-germ toddler breakfasts, I will never do something like this. It's not the Ewww factor that gets me, it's the thought of adding one more thing to my already Santa-sized parenting list. I mean I have a general idea of my son's bathroom schedule but if I had to race to the toilet every time he gave an inkling of a hint of a grunt I'd lose what's left of my tiny, addled mind. My god, the pressure!

"But Ali", you say, "it's just pee."

But criminy, it's PEE! On stuff! Stuff I already don't have time to clean! (Note to self: add "clean stuff" to Santa list.)

My hat's off to anyone who does this, and I'm not saying that in any sort of condescending, "Well good for you" way. She cares more about the planet than a whizz-free couch. Frankly, she cares more than me. I'll still buy the (hopefully) better diapers and recycle like a fiend (unfortunately composing is tricky in 750 square feet) but I will potty train like the Midwesterner I am.


Missy said...

Ya gotta do what works for you I suppose, but I balk at the idea that these infants are toilet trained. In my humble opinion they are NOT. The parents are trained, not the kid. But that is probably just the midwesterner in ME coming out.

Julie said...

I agree with Missy. And just one more thing to feel stressed about "getting right". I have a hard enough time getting my kid to EAT FOOD, let alone trying to figure out when he might need to eliminate.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Hah! I'll top ya: there's no WAY in HELL you could do this with twins.

I don't care how "in tune" you are with your kids. Once they start running around, you cannot keep a watchful eye on BOTH to note when they're about to pee on the floor like a puppy.

I recommend hardwood floors for those occasions when you dare to remove a diaper and not immediately throw a new one on. Emma is a spontaneous floor peein' puppy. Then she laughs and runs away.

I would recommend the diapers we use (Bum Genius 3.0) if you want to cut down on your landfill action but boost your laundry action. They work really well.

Bern said...

In my "humble" opinion potty training starts around 3 + or - 4 months. The age when they can actually sense they are going to eliminate, and propel their bodies to the bathroom and begin to attempt to remove the bottom portion of their clothes. Age 3 + or - 4 months. Anything before that is just you holding them over the toilet. If that is how you choose to spend (all) of your time, wonderful. I opted for diapers (Huggies, even) and took my kids to the zoo instead.

Margot said...

Ugh. I have a good friend who "EC's" her daughter. Missy hit it on the head--it's the parents who are potty trained, not the kid. Every time we see my friend, it seems like every 10 or 15 minutes she's either asking her kid if she needs to go, or holding her kid's butt over a portable potty (IN MY LIVING ROOM! EW!!!). Frankly I do *not* have the time for that kind of obsessive lower-half attention. I would way rather be playing with my son and having a good time. Oh--and it doesn't mean "diaper free." It means fewer diapers (theoretically), but they still wear them until they're fully trained and don't have accidents.

Ali said...

Hey Bern, do you mean 3 or 4 years? Because my kid wasn't coming CLOSE to propelling himself (or removing clothing) at 3 months!

Missy said...

That was the question I was going to ask Bern, that is a pretty damn advanced 3-4 month old.

This whole thing is just flat out crazy.

I am gonna get out my box here yell about why our society continues to try and push children beyond what they are capable of developmentally. The older I get, the farther I go on my parenting journey, and the more I work with children I feel more and more strongly that along with those pre-natal classes parents take to prepare for the birth of their child, they also need to be taking classes on child development. They need to keep going to child development classes throughout their child's until the child becomes an adult. It is very helpful to know what your child is TRULY capable of as they grow. It can help eliminate a fair amount of grief and hardship in my opinion.

I'll get off my box now and bitch on my own blog!

elisava said...

our next door neighbors have a boy who is about 6. his mom is Russian (Georgian) and his dad is from South Carolina. they informed me one day in one of our many tense yard conversations that their boy had never worn diapers. i just smiled and wondered with the frack they were talking about. i guess now i know. interesting!

Bern said...

Sorry about that. I meant age 3 years, plus or minus 4 months.

Ali said...

In EC's defense - and I say this without having done any investigation whatsoever - but it seems like it's less about pushing the child and more about really "learning" your child and making the lines of communication as open as possible. It's along the lines of Attachment Parenting (and APers, please correct me if I'm wrong). It's more about the bonding then pushing. I think. (Although I definitely want to talk about pushing kids too fast. Missy's absolutely on to something.)

My fascination is all about the amount of energy moms are able to devote to it. I'm way too busy sneaking off to check Facebook to catch the boy before he pees on the cat. I spend a lot of time with my son. A LOT of time. The time I do take for myself (like, say, now. He's playing by himself while I sit nearby) is too precious to give up. But I can't shake the feeling that I'm not doing "enough". It's the same thing I battled with when I stopped breastfeeding, which totally a topic for another day.

pursuedbyabear said...

My boy is always naked at home. He just hates clothes, including diapers. When he has to go he tells me, if it's pee he goes to the potty and pees, then applauds himself. If it's poop, he says "poop poop" and I get him to the toilet. So I guess, eek gad, we do do what ever that was that she said it was. At home. Diapers when we are participating in society of course. But you'd be suprised. He's two and he's been doing this for about, I don't know, longer than six months. At first we had a couple of accidents, but then we made it so positive for him when he got the pee in his little potty chair that he was totally into it. Sorry grossed out people.

Ali said...

P - I think the way it happened for you is awesome. It seemed natural and baby driven versus parent driven. What I've read about EC seems much more parent driven but, like I said, I'm COMPLETELY talking out my ass.

Colleen said...

IMO, it's hard enough being the parent of a newborn without having to worry about toilet-training them at such a ridiculously early age. Good grief. Thank goodness for diapers!