Monday, July 25, 2011

Naked Baby Syndrome

This wasn’t like the time my mom told me I was a pain in the ass to feed as a child. No, it wasn’t like that at all because I always knew that one day the same thing would happen to me, and then it did, and I was like, Sweet Jesus. Karma, you are one bad-ass Judy. This time, there were no warnings or secret whisperings that it would happen to me. Sure, I had heard about it. I knew other people that it had happened to. And occasionally I paused to wonder if Thumper would one day develop it, but the worry would pass and I’d go on with my comfortable existence. That is, until a few weeks ago when I noticed Thumper starting to pull off her shorts at bath time. I suspected that it was about to happen, I just didn’t know it could happen so fast.

A few days later, I was at my parents' for a family barbeque. When I called Thumper for dinner, my topless child bounded into the room. We all giggled and I laughed it off saying that the tank top she had been wearing was too big and probably made it easy for her to wiggle out of. Fifteen minutes later, she was in only a diaper. This was fine with me, as long as the diaper stayed on. I don’t mind baby nakedness, I just don’t want to be responsible for cleaning the pee out of my parents’ carpets. Five minutes after that, my dad alerted me to the removal of the diaper. As I put it back on her, my sister-in-law told me about our friend’s daughter stripping in the middle of the night and peeing all over the bed. We laughed, and internally I hoped it wouldn’t come to that for us.

But of course after Thumper was in bed for the night, Dawson went to check on her and sure enough, she was naked from the waist down and sitting in a crib full of pee. We changed the sheets, put her down again and then checked on her awhile later. Again, naked from the waist down, sleeping in pee. And so began the Naked Baby Syndrome.

For the next few days it seemed like everywhere we went, every time we turned around, another piece of Thumper’s clothing disappeared until there was nothing but a bare bum running around and peeing all over our stuff. Everyone kept commenting that she must be ready for potty training. I had a hunch that that wasn’t the case at all. The hunch I had was watching Thumper scream when we tried to put her on the potty naked. So I did what any modern mom would do, and called the doctor looked it up on the Internet. I read a bunch of articles suggesting that in some cases, Naked Baby Syndrome is not about potty training at all. For some kids, it’s just about asserting more of their new-found independence by being able to take off their own clothes. I instantly knew this was the case for Thumper. Just that morning, she had whipped off her shorts, then brought them over to me and asked me to put them back on. She had also made a game of regularly undressing her dolls and Barbies and making me re-dress them. So I did what any modern mom would do, and did exactly as the doctor Internet instructed.

I started giving Thumper twenty minutes of “nude-y time” every day where she is allowed to be as naked as she wants. If she wants to wear a shirt but no pants, fine. If she wants to wear only a diaper, great. If she wants to be full-on naked, okay. The hope in doing this is that it gives her a chance to practise taking off her clothes and she gets to decide exactly what to take off, thereby making her feel like she is in control. And if you have a toddler, you know very well that the only thing toddlers want more than your attention and an abundance of Disney-related possessions is full control. The only two rules for nude-y time are that naked babies are not allowed on the carpet, and if the naked baby has to pee or poop, she must sit on the potty.

Having figured out the reason for Thumper’s Naked Baby Syndrome, I felt confident that I could get it under control. Not only did I implement nude-y time, but I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t going to be an instant fix. I knew there was going to be a transition period. So for the first week, I waited outside of her room at nap and bedtime, going in every few minutes to either stop her from taking off her clothes or to put them back on for her. I could tell that most of the time, Thumper was just looking to get a reaction out of me. And although there were times where I was ready to give her one, I managed to not make a big deal out of it. It usually only took 4 or 5 times of doing this before she tired of the game and fell asleep. It was repetitive and frustrating at times, but eventually it worked.

So naturally, afterward I felt all triumphant and victorious. Suck it, Naked Baby Syndrome! I WIN! And let me tell you, I seriously needed this win because I am losing the dinner battle hard and suffering a slow and cruel death as a result. It’s worse than the death by time-outs. I also caught Thumper trying to climb out of her crib the other night. Lucky for both of us, she got stuck halfway and couldn’t catapult herself over the edge. At any rate, it seems I’ve got trickier problems on the horizon.


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