Friday, November 10, 2006

Barky attempts death by chocolate

For those of you who aren't reading all the mom, dad, and expert parenting advice blogs, you might not be aware of the recent surge in coverage--uh, so to speak--of the diaper free baby movement. The premise of this movement is that

As a culture we have been taught to ignore the signals babies give when they need to eliminate.
This has led us to need diapers, and has caused all of the ecological horror that is entailed in their use. If we would just pay close attention to our children, we could avoid the use of diapers and relieve the world of tons of trash.

Mama, when she first heard of this, was enthralled with the idea right up until I asked if she was willing to set the kid loose, bare-assed, at her Grandma's house. Not so much. (To be fair, it turns out that even the most devout DFB proponents use diapers in certain circumstances.)

As we looked more closely at DFB, we found that there are, as Emily Bazelon points out, other ramifications of this seemingly simple technique:

Diapers are crucial labor-savers. They save time—chiefly women's time. A child who wears disposable diapers is a child whose diapers need not be washed, rinsed, or soaked. More radically, she is a child who can be easily handed off to someone else. Changing diapers is no one's favorite thing, but it's fast, unfussy, and part of the job description of most nannies and many day-care teachers.

Taking off a baby's diapers, on the other hand, means taking a giant step in the opposite direction.
However, that's not to say that there aren't excellent reasons for raising diaper-free babies in various places. DFB proponents note that in many countries, babies run around either bare from the waist down or with split pants that open when they squat down. This allows them to quickly do their business over any nearby hole in the ground. Such holes are, apparently, a feature common to many of the villages that these babies live in.

Not so much here in Northern Virginia, especially not up here on the seventh floor of our building, where we live. I'm pretty sure the folks on the sixth floor are glad about that.

Another issue about DFB that didn't occur to us until after 3B arrived was the fluid nature of his diaper contents. While the photos on the DFB websites all show glowing women cradling grinning babies over sparkling white bowls, I'm pretty sure those are all Before photos. Having had the misfortune of witnessing firsthand one of 3B's bowel movements while he was uncovered during a diaper change, I'd be surprised if anybody is smiling or clean in the Aftermath photos, because when the shit hit the pan, it would go everywhere.

OK, if you've made it this far, I think it's time to get to the subject at hand . . . Did someone mention loose stools? the hickory-licorice squirts? the skitters? Oh, I did. How convenient, because that's what Barky's filling our weekend with after attempting death by chocolate yesterday.

Mama had spent a nice afternoon in DC, having lunch with her ex-boss, when she returned home and found an empty 8 x 8 glass baking pan in the middle of the living room and this in the kitchen:

She ran through the house to find Barky waking up on our bed--fortunately, since that empty pan she found had been on the butcher block counter, full of brownies when she left. And that footstool? It had been over in our dining room when she left.

Yes, Barky pushed it into the kitchen, over the threshold between the two rooms, up against the counter, so he could pull that pan down. So now, even though 3B is sleeping through most of the night, we have been taking our clever beagle outside every two hours for the last 24 hours to do that which a pan of brownies causes him to do. Here I am, out walking after midnight . . .

All of this has led me to stop laughing so hard at this product:

It's not quite a hole in the floor, but maybe we could get a two-for-one bonus if we could get 3B to use it too. Hey, before you call me that, think of all the diapers we'll save.

You think that Grandma will let us set one up in her living room?


  1. Anonymous11:37 AM

    Brilliant segue, Papa B. I was wondering where you were going with the DFB discussion. Anyway, hope Barky is ok. Were they chocolate brownies? If so, you might want to get him checked out by the vet.

  2. DFB is right. The fuss over elimination is stupid. I do all mine over the Net. No muss, no fuss. You know that great feeling you get when you've just blogged a good one? I start getting cranky when my output is blocked.

    And the best part of those holes in the ground in villages where folks don't use diapers? They let you share all the same diseases the rest of your family has, or at least all the ones that can be spread by going barefoot in a place without sanitary sewage containment. Build microbe resistance early!

    If you live in a place where a septic system is required by law--or, worse, a place with pavement and sewers--and you feel you're missing out on that small-undeveloped-village lifestyle, you can get a little taste of what you're after by visiting a farm and deliberately stepping, barefoot, in various animals' waste. Don't worry about the smell. Millennia of evolution left us with some odd vestigial olfactory artifact that makes us pre-judge the smell as "bad." Modern DFBers can rise above that.

    Speaking of evolution: Do I understand correctly that you just tracked Barky using a tool to achieve a goal? Something that involved planning and deliberate manipulation of his environment? Isn't that something that scientists argue about whether even fairly bright simians can do? Good dog!

    --DF, DHB

  3. Barky is one determined dog. I know humans with less will power.

    They say some dogs get very ill from chocolate. I had a shih-tzu/poodle mix, small dog, who ate a solid slab of chocolate about the size of a small novel. She was fine. Chocolate may be food of the gods, but it's also very, shall we say, stimulating to the bowels.

  4. Anonymous5:25 PM

    The King would add that our dog Spec did sort of the same thing with choco santas one time. PLEASE be very careful if Barky is going alot to make sure he is Hydrated. This is one of the big killers in dogs when they get the runs. Spec went to the emergency room and spent 2 very scary days in the hospital.

  5. Anonymous5:47 PM

    And don't you think that those people in remote villages would be THRILLED to use diapers if they were available? I'm thinkin' yeah.

    I don't get the DFB Movement (pardon the pun). Too much pressure on the kids if you ask me. And what about parents that HAVE to work and can't watch their precious angel 24 hours a day? DFB just makes them seem like they don't care enough which is not true.

    We're doing cloth. A happy medium, I feel.

    I'm glad Barky is okay. I was a vet tech and some dogs actually die from stuff like that. At least it wasn't bakers chocolate, because that is the deadliest.

    But his determination? Gotta give him two paws up.