Tagged mothers

No One Expects the Toddler Inquisition: Toddler Torture Methods

historical-945928_1920I have come to the dawning realisation that I am being tortured.

It’s being done entirely inadvertently and very lovingly, of course, but these are twenty bona fide methods of torture my toddlers have actually used on me.

 
1. Chinese Water Torture

(A method by which water is slowly dripped onto a person’s forehead, allegedly driving them insane.)

 
Okay, so they don’t drip water onto Mummy’s forehead (that has not occurred to them). They surreptitiously drip it onto the sofa until the seat is entirely saturated. The end result of insanity is the same.

 
2. Starvation and Force Feeding

Impressively, the toddlers are able to carry out these methods of torture simultaneously. All food belonging to Mummy is immediately commandeered by the toddlers. Mummy is not allowed to eat. Except when attempts are being made to force feed her pieces of her own food, which may or may not have now been chewed (that may be a whole new method of torture).

 
3. Sensory Deprivation

(Deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli from one or more of the senses. For example, by using blindfolds.)

 
Mummy spends quite a lot of the day trying to free her head from various blankets, boxes and items of clothing. Peekaboo is not a voluntary activity around here: Mummy hides when the toddlers say so. Mummy is deemed to be hiding when the toddlers have covered her head.

Mummy is also unable to hear anything besides the screeching. All other sounds are but distant memories.

 
4. Kneecapping

Due to a serious misunderstanding, this is what the toddlers believe the reflex hammer in the toy doctor’s kit is for. Due to an even more serious misunderstanding, the toddlers believe any hard (preferably wooden) object is a reasonable replacement for the toy reflex hammer in an emergency. The toddlers believe that the reflex hammer being temporarily misplaced under the sofa when there is a parental leg in need of whacking is an emergency.

 
5. The Rack

Two (or more) toddlers are a rack: they’re both pulling Mummy, they’re going in opposite directions, neither is letting go. The toddler who dislocates a shoulder first wins.

 
6. Crushing

Also known as ‘sitting on Mummy’ and ‘bouncing on Mummy’.

 
7. Hamstringing

(Crippling a person by severing the hamstring tendons in the thigh.)

 
The toddlers attempt this, with gravity as their accomplice, by attaching themselves to Mummy’s thigh as she tries to walk.

 
8. Music Torture

Have you heard the Peppa Pig theme tune? No more needs to be said.

 
9. Blackmailing

The toddlers use the threat of noisy public meltdowns to great effect to extort extra raisins from Mummy.

 
10. Sound Torture

(Very loud/high pitched noise intended to interfere with rest, cognition and concentration.)

 
It really isn’t their fault: loud and high pitched is their only setting.

 
11. Sleep Deprivation

In all fairness, neither toddler currently uses this method. However, it was favoured by both for well over a year, and combined to great effect with sound torture (the high pitched sound in question being that of a child who has not agreed to this cot thing and certainly will not be remaining in it).

 
12. Stress Position

(Placement of the human body in such a way that a large amount of weight is placed on one or two muscles.)

 
The large amount of weight is one or two climbing toddlers. They firmly believe that anyone who has crouched into a squatting position will really benefit from a child standing on each thigh.

 
13. Thumbscrew

This means something slightly different to toddler torturers. Attempting to screw your thumbs into Mummy’s eyes, mostly. It is not enough to simply know what eyes are when asked, it is necessary to further demonstrate that understanding by poking them. Of course, in fairness, the toddlers don’t always target Mummy – sometimes they poke themselves in the eyes. Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes has a lot to answer for.

 
14. Tickle Torture

Daddy taught them this one, and he must pay.

 
15. Tooth Extraction

This is attempted by frequent (accidental) headbutting of Mummy’s mouth.

 
16. Flogging

Somewhat unconventionally, this usually involves yelling ‘bibidi babadi bu’ whilst whacking Mummy with whatever implement is the pretend wand of the day. Fairy Godmothers in this house very much resemble the Ghost of Christmas Present from Scrooged.

 
17. Tarring and Feathering

The toddlers’ version of this is ‘yoghurting and raisining’. It happens most lunch times. To Mummy and the toddlers.

 
18. The Iron Maiden

Improvised toddler iron maidens are composed of a sofa covered in pieces of lego.

 
19. Scalping

The toddlers call this ‘hairdressing’. Or: ‘Mummy, can I comb your hair, please?’

 
20. The Spanish Inquisition

Whether you want everyone to be Catholic or Mummy to give you a biscuit, both The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition and the toddlers know that incessant questioning (‘Why?’, ‘Is the Pope a Catholic?’, ‘What’s this?’ ‘Are you a catholic?’ ‘Where has daddy gone?’, ‘Where has your rosary gone?’) gets results/biscuits/Catholics.

 
 
(Please note: the toddlers are very lovely and affectionate inadvertent torturers, and Mummy does not actually mind the odd knee capping at their hands.)

A Message to Anyone Who Feels Confused or Bullied About Breastfeeding

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(*Note: I wrote one post about breast or formula feeding, actually about how we should not even bother to debate it because it does not matter, and did not intend to write more on the matter. However, I have recently read some news reports about pressure and bullying some mothers have felt over how they feed their babies, and it makes for quite upsetting reading. So, at risk of debating the issue myself, I am writing this one further post.*)

 
 
This post is specifically aimed at new mothers or prospective new mothers. Because, if you found this post, you have probably been looking online for advice or support about breastfeeding. And, if you’ve been doing that, you are probably unsure about what feeding method you want to use, or you are struggling with breastfeeding. You may have found some great support and advice. In which case, carry on as you were. But there is always a risk, if you have googled advice about breastfeeding, that you have been dragged into a guilt-ridden swamp of ‘information’ about the magical properties of breast milk, without which your baby will surely die and you will be branded with a ‘worst mother in the world’ stamp right across your forehead. If you have found your way into this swamp, and now feel more vulnerable and confused than you did when you started, do please read on.

Breast milk is not the Elixir of Life. It does not have magical properties. It’s great. It’s an amazing substance. But, actually, so is formula. Some very clever people have made it so. They have manufactured a substance that is capable of being a substitute for breast milk and nourishing a baby. So that’s pretty amazing too, right?

Yes, breast milk has immune benefits. Yes, it is probably easier on the gut. In the scheme of things, these are not really massive differences or benefits. Breast milk isn’t making anyone invincible. It’s not curing ebola.

Does breast milk make children more intelligent, thinner, more successful, or any of the other claims put forward by the breastfeeding lobby? No. It doesn’t. The apparent correlation between breastfeeding and improved outcomes for children in those areas is coincidental. It exists because there is a correlation between those outcomes and greater socioeconomic advantage, AND there is a correlation between higher breastfeeding rates and socioeconomic advantage. The privilege and opportunities afforded in society to the group of women who make up the majority of breastfeeders result in the apparent benefits for their children, not the breast milk. But, of course, it is difficult to conclusively prove that the breast milk is not responsible, because to do so would require experimenting on babies and forcing certain groups of mothers to feed in a specific way . That would clearly be unethical, and so the evidence of correlation between breastfeeding and positive outcomes in areas such as intelligence remains, ready to be preyed on by the breastfeeding lobby as evidence of the benefits of breast milk, despite being almost certainly nothing of the sort. If you look at the children of mothers who, in all respects except for breastfeeding, fit the same profile as the breastfeeding mothers, their children will show the same outcomes. I am such a child.

You will not condemn your child to stupidity, obesity or failure by not breastfeeding. Talk to your child, read to them, play with them, hug them – all the things you obviously intend to do anyway! These are the things that make a difference to development. And genetics, of course. Can’t do much about those.

It is nice to encourage breastfeeding, of course it is. But not ever to the extent that anyone is made to feel panicked or vulnerable, or anyone is encouraged to make a decision that puts them or their baby at risk. No one should be told, as I have seen happen, that taking unregulated breast milk from strangers in Internet exchanges is better than using formula. Of course it isn’t. Do you know that is breast milk? That the mother doesn’t drink alcohol? That she has no blood borne illnesses? That she properly sterilised the pump and containers? Do you know where the milk was stored? For how long? It’s reckless, and no one should be telling worried mothers to do that. If you cannot, or do not want to, give your baby your milk (or milk from one of the regulated milk banks), give them formula. It is fine.

No vulnerable woman with mental illness should become so convinced that her baby needs breast milk that she stops taking medication she needs in order to be well. A baby does not need breast milk that badly, but it does need a healthy mother. No one, in short, needs to be listening to suggestions that breast milk is the be all and end all. That is not true.

So this is my message for new mothers, or prospective new mothers, who are worried about this, who have been panicked by what they see on the Internet, by what the so called ‘breastapo’ say. It is nice to try breastfeeding, if you can and you want to. But it is not that important in the scheme of things. Your child will not end up horrendously disadvantaged by not being breastfed. Don’t tell anyone, but breastfeeding isn’t even the norm in this country. The biological norm, yes, but not the norm in practice. Perhaps that is why some women are being so aggressive about this: it’s insecurity and defensiveness. Trying to validate themselves by putting others down. Because, truth be told, breastfeeding mothers, beyond the first few days or weeks, are a pretty small minority. That is a bit of a shame. But it isn’t your problem. You don’t have to be the one to take responsibility for improving the statistics. You have to do what’s right for you.

And I will tell you – as someone who is a breastfeeder, who has exclusively breastfed two babies long term – no sensible, intelligent, reasonable, relatively caring woman (breastfeeder or not) will see you struggling and tell you that you must breastfeed or your baby will suffer. Not ever. She will never tell you to panic over this, to be stressed about it, to cause your baby to feel stress about it, or to feel guilty about it. She will never tell you that you are selfish or harming your baby if you don’t breastfeed. She will not tell you breastfeeding is easy and everyone can do it. Anyone who tells you those things is not someone whose advice needs to be listened to. Good advice, helpful advice, will always encourage you to do what you can do, what you can cope with, and not to look back. Focus your energy on your time with your baby instead.