In Defense of Elimination Communication
Elimination Communication. Based on the idea that no animal wants to poop where it eats, including human babies, is the practice of learning how your baby signals his/her need to eliminate, then taking baby to a toilet, sink, potty, or bush (I guess?) to handle biz. Some start at birth. It’s all fairly simple, and yet the mere mention of EC has folks frothing at the mouth.
It happens like clockwork. Like flowers blooming in spring. Like child stars going “edgy”. Like the barrage of think pieces that follow them. Like my eight-month-old daughter, blowing up the bathroom immediately after consuming watermelon…the mainstream response to anything even remotely associated with attachment parenting is *that* predictable. It seems that “kind parent” b.s. brings out the sort of shrill, irrational response that has folks talking about, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”, and hyperbolizing about smacking their children. I mean, damn. You’re not about the touchy feely, one bed per family, shitting in the woods life. Got it. Hands off the kid…
Seriously, why has it become so cool to act like you’re too cool for your own kid? What’s with the posturing?
I haven’t read Alicia Silverstone‘s The Kind Parent, and I don’t intend to. Let’s just start there. This isn’t about the book anyway. Besides, I’ve read Mayim Bialik‘s Beyond the Sling, also a celeb-authored book about attachment parenting, and elimination communication and holier-than-thou type of parenting, and guess what? I’ve had my fill of celebrity authored parenting books, and at least the one I read was by Blossom. Now, Blossom was cooler than all of us without even trying to be, and she holds a neuroscience Ph D, and yes, remembering that helps me feel better about the day spent reading Sling.
The great heavens gifted me a baby who only naps in my lap, so I had a lot of time to read those first few months. Instead of finally finishing War and Peace, I was reading parenting books (since clearly, I was doing it all wrong). Somehow I made it through Bialik’s chapter on Elimination Communication, or, ‘alternative infant hygiene’. Devoured another three books on the subject of infant potty practices across time and culture. I was convinced. My husband and I did not come to the decision to start EC at five months lightly.
If I may clear something up. The pretentious name comes from the fact that this is not about potty training a baby. If it were, “infant potty training” would’ve sufficed. ‘EC’ sounds so…GOOP-y, I don’t even say it out loud. If it even comes up, I say, “she uses the potty sometimes”.
And anyone who really practices EC knows it’s just that–a practice. It’s a way of engaging with, and teaching your child about one of life’s most basic things. Sure, there’s a level of “training the parent” that comes with it. Do more conventional methods of elimination in particular (and parenting, in general) leave you with any more shallow of a learning curve? I would think it’s all a challenge! Where you teach your kid to shit is, in the long run, a very small aspect of your relationship with your kid, but one that must be addressed at some point. As EC parents, our whole day does not revolve around the toilet any more than any other parents’ does. We’ve taught her what the potty is for; something she is fully developmentally capable of understanding. Only three months in, and I can count the number of times my daughter number 2’s in a diaper in a month, on one hand. I’d guess she prefers not to go in her diaper (although she will if she must, or if we’re too busy or stupid to catch her cue). On the other hand, she might just go in order to hear the endless remixed versions of pop songs that follow a “catch” (My girl wants to potty all the time…). My falsetto IS the business, but still there are other factors.