The Weirdest Hot-Button Ever

For years, I operated under the illusion that I was doing a decent job of parenting. Now I know better. Thank you, kind strangers, for pointing out my failings. And now I confess them to you, dear reader. I sometimes wear my kid.

In reality, I have always thought the term “baby wearing” was weird, as if my child were some kind of accessory that could pee down my back. But whatever the term, when we’re running long errands, I toss Squish into our Ergo carrier and go. I have recently learned that carrying my kid on my back is as socially acceptable as disrobing in church.

My first indication that this behavior is alarming to the public came at the grocery store. As I was paying, George the cashier pointed at my son and said “He’s in the same place he was the last time I saw him. You should let him down.” I was unaware that shop keepers wanted unrestrained toddlers in their stores, but I chalk that up to ignorance on my part. In an effort to please, I turned Squish loose in the apple display. He had a grand time.

My education continued, appropriately enough, at my third-grader’s school. We walk to and from school, and it’s always a bit of an adventure. One day, a teacher stopped us on the sidewalk and asked me when I was going to let Squish walk on his own. I hadn’t given the matter much thought, honestly. Maybe when Labrador Lady quits trying to run us over on a daily basis, but definitely before he’s old enough to drive. I’m pretty sure.

My most recent encounter was at the pediatrician’s office. Squish got sick the day before his annual check-up. Of course, he did. Our doc’s office has two waiting rooms – one for sick kids, and one the well ones. Being a firm believer that there is a special circle of hell for parents who sneak their sick kids into the well-side, I put him in the Ergo and braved the sick waiting room, standing in the middle of the floor while I filled out the annual paperwork so he couldn’t even think about touching something. The nurse took one look at us and snapped “You have to stop carrying him!” So I let him down to lick the furniture. She thanked me.

I never in my wildest dreams knew that carrying my toddler would be such a controversial move on my part.

An example of bad parenting. Don't ever do this. Let him swim with the gator.

More photographic evidence of bad parenting

I am not alone in my sin.

But it gets worse.

Don't look now, but I see evidence of a crack habit.

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105 thoughts on “The Weirdest Hot-Button Ever

  1. I think you should carry him as much as you want. I don’t carry my son on my back mainly because I can’t figure out how to make him push a lawn mower or snow shovel from that position.

  2. I am a little shocked that people would have something to say about what you do with your child. It is none of their business if you want to carry your child, or anything else for that matter. I would have never survived the first few years of my sons life without one of those, they are awesome and I suggest every parent should purchase one…Have a good day!

  3. I am at a loss for words here. I am all about wearing my kids and was pretty bummed when both of them decided they were done. Not only is it easier for the parent, it is good for them socially and emotionally. How dare you keep them safe and engaged with the world at the same time as having two free hands to attend to your other children or get some work done.

    • We’re definitely time-and-a-place people. When we’re at the zoo, it’s the time and place for free-roaming. He comes back when I tell him to or we go home. When we’re at the grocery store or in some germ-infested place, it’s Ergo time.

      I should also mention that he’s small for his age, and we’ve got probably another year of use with it!

  4. Never a shortage of opinions — eessh! If there was really a kid that never learned how to walk/be independent from being worn, then maybe they’d have a case. Americans are so concerend about how to foster independence, they usually miss the most important steps.

  5. Your humor has be busting a gut!!! I had back issues with my first so I didn’t wear her much until I could wear her on my back in a Kelty. She loved it and loved it when her dad wore her too. Now with my 8 month old, my back has been strong so I have worn him in a ring sling from day 1. He is getting heavy now, so soon time to break that Kelty back out.

    It is amazing what qualifies as “bad” parenting these days. I have always seen myself as an outsider; definitely in the parenting area. But I bet you have people comment on your child’s advanced development too… 🙂 Thanks for the laughs today!

  6. Everyone knows that every kid’s dream is to be piggy-backed to any and every destination. Good for you that you’ve found a way to indulge this fantasy without the throat-strangling that inevitably accompanies having a small child hanging from your back. Why don’t people see that you’re just further evolved than they are? Sheesh.

  7. Very funny–great post! The Judgers make me sick, along with what we call the Human Remora, an altogether deadlier species. We ran into one a few weeks back…

    The emaciated human suckerfish, seeking a fresh host, plants herself.

    “Ohhh, let me see the baby.” Unlike the others, hers is not a request. She’s chewing, what can only be, wads of Nicorette. Animal.

    My temperature rises, my skin flush, I don’t say anything. It’s about 7:45am and she already smells like two packs of spent Marlboro reds. Iridescent nails compete with the length of her fingers. I watch those garish Nosferatu claws approach my boy…

  8. Maybe they see it once and assume its always? I assume it’s not always, but be careful because it will affect his muscle development, and that straddle posture will affect his ligaments and the development of his bones if it’s a regular thing (I’m only speaking for the lady at the doctors office, he others likely are just judging you but couldn’t tell you why or what the consequences are…lol). Think of it like Chinese foot binding or nose planking in central/south America way back when, but only if he spends more time carried than walking.

    OMG. I’m one of them. Don’t throw a gator at me! 8-(

    • No gator throwing. I swear!

      The Ergo is actually one of the better carriers. It’s not an unnatural posture, and his spine isn’t compressed like some of the others. No worries about bone-squishing the Squish.

      The lady at the doctor’s office wasn’t worried about him. She thinks my back will break. I think part of the problem is that people do indeed see a snapshot of someone’s life and think they can extrapolate the whole truth.

  9. Why don’t you just get one of those kid leashes…no one will ever give you a hard time about that. 😉

    Seriously though, when my kids were little we used the carrier and the leash and my kids didn’t get run over by a car…although one almost did before we got the leash. People always think they know how to best raise your kids until they have their own. At that point, the moms who still judge other’s parenting styles are the moms whose kids will end up in counseling for the rest of their life because of “mother” issues.

      • I always thought they were horrible until I had kids…and then they started walking…and touching stuff…pulling things off the shelf…hating to be in the shopping cart, but if you let them out, they book it toward the door like it is a homing beacon.

        You should get one…now when I see parents with their kid on a leash I know that they are very responsible.

  10. Hm, strange how entitled some people feel to tell you what’s right and wrong for your child. Or yourself.

    Over here in the UK, I see kids being chauffered around in a buggy well into their 5th year, feet dragging on the ground and all, and no-one seems to mind. Maybe these judgers are just worried about your back?

    What bugs me most is that when encountering people like this nurse, I will usually budge and only think of a clever retort (or a revenge blog post) much later in the game. Sometimes I consider going back and giving them a – eloquently worded – piece of my mind.

  11. It’s like the harness/leash things. Everyone without kids thinks it is horrible to keep your kids on a “leash,” but once they have kids, they understand. Aren’t you glad that people with no experience can be experts at raising children? I think I used to know everything about raising kids too…and then I had some 🙂

  12. I used to get that all the time, too! I LOVE my Ergo. I wish my daughter would still go in it. Actually, we’re about to go on a flight in a few weeks and if she would consent to being in it while we made a mad dash from one gate to another, it would definitely simplify things. She’s just about to turn 3 and she wants to be independent.

    Someone said above that no one would blink if the kid was in a stroller and that is so true! Booo, people and their unsolicited parenting “advice.”

    • Most of the time, Squish walks. But when he has to, he rides. We usually have the discussion in the car. “We’re going to the zoo. You can walk. When we go to the store afterwards, you will ride.” Maybe you can talk her into it just for the short trip.

  13. Wait until they see me put Baguette in her harness and tether. I’m already prepared for the “Your child is not a dog! You should hold her hand!” people.

    Because what I am going to say is, “Do you commute by bus? So you have no idea what it’s like to have to stand with your hand over your head, being moved back and forth for an hour while suspended by your arm. Well, I have that experience every day, and I don’t want to inflict that on my child when I have an alternative. Do you want to continue this conversation, or do you want to walk away now?”

    It’s true. I’m fighty.

    • There will always be someone to object, no matter what we do. We considered a harness last summer because our neighborhood is so steep. When we would go walking, his little sunscreened hand would get slippery, and he would fall. A harness might give me something to grab before he hit the ground.

      • I also like it when people act like harnesses are evidence of new, lazy parenting, as if they didn’t go back (in various forms) to the Middle Ages.

        I say, do what works for you–whether that’s carrying your child, using a harness, or whatever, as long as they get plenty of time to move around on their own and develop their strength and balance. And what works for you is going to depend on you, your child, and the situation.

  14. As a current retail slave, I can only say that I wish more of my customers were as ‘bad’ at parenting as you seem to be. ;3

    Loved the post. Cheers!

  15. I still carry my youngest (16 months) in my Beco everywhere. The most common reactions I get are “awww that’s cute” and “OH! that’s a kid back there!” I’m not sure how you fail to notice that I’m carrying a human and not camping gear (esp in the mall and the when the cargo is singing) but whatev. You might have chicken arms, but I bet you have enviable core strength – carry on.

    • My funniest story comes from going to Tractor Supply to get dog food. I was talking to Squish about the toy tractors. The cashier noticed him for the first time as we were leaving. Up to that point, she thought I was talking to myself.

  16. I wouldn’t have survived the Bean’s first 2+ years without my Beco Butterfly- that child was carried everywhere. Could she walk? Heck yeah- she was running at 10 months. But it was safer, easier and more enjoyable for both of us when she was in the carrier. That’s a long way for me to say, screw ’em- keep carrying that adorable kiddo!

    • Squish was an early walker, too. Big fun. And we do use the Ergo less and less. He’s got amazing endurance and will run ahead on our daily 2 mile walks. But until he outgrows that thing, there will be times when we’re just going to have to pack him!

  17. Love my ERGO. I wore my son on my back until I was about 8 months pregnant with my daughter (then we just stopped going out altogether). You should have seen the looks I got! The daily advice to accompany such look: “What are you going to do when the second one comes? You’ve got to stop that now!”

    I meant to go out with my daughter in the bjorn and son in the ergo at the same time, but my heart was too busy exploding with new baby love that I forgot all about those haters. Good to know they are still there.

  18. I’m not a parent so no legit opinion here but I always thought those carriers were the coolest. BF and I plan to take kids backpacking when they’re little – it’s perfect! I say you rock!

    What I can’t stand as a personal pet peeve is the harness and leash that some toddlers end up wearing. Sad day!!

    • The harnesses are an even bigger hot-button than my carrier! Sometimes they give little kids more comfort and freedom than they would otherwise have, and sometimes parents use them all wrong. We haven’t gotten one, but we did consider one once.

      We have hiked many a trail with Mr.Squish in the Ergo. Beats a stroller ANY day!

  19. Ah yes, it’s wonderful to know that the judgey love will continue after the birth of Bebe! Seriously, though, your attitude toward this is so refreshing 🙂 I love coming here and not getting sucked into a vortex of negativity. Your humor is pretty close to perfect.

  20. How old is Squish?

    I had a friend tell me that putting my 2 year old in a harness when I was going to the airport with her and her baby sister was treating her like a dog. I happen to treat my dog very well, too. I told her I’d prefer to treat her like a dog than to have someone grab her or have her just wander off in a busy airport! Der.

  21. You should tell folks that he is an adopted, American Indian child, and that you are trying to let him stay in touch with his heritage.

    Yes, I know he’s blond. It will shut people up, and that, my dear, is the point!

  22. Good for you for carrying your child! I admire it, it looks really difficult!

    I don’t have kids yet, but if someone made comments like that to me I would have to fight the urge to tell them everything that could possibly be wrong with them in response, even if those things weren’t true.

  23. For people to feel that they can be so critical of something which is so clearly not their concern, you must come across as a very open, tolerant sort of person. Either that, or they figure that weighed down as you are with your boy, you can’t run after them and tell them a few things they should probably know.

  24. funny- I’ve worn all my babies and never got any comments other than, how does it work, is it comfortable, do they like it? In fact, I’ve gotten comments when they’ve been in strollers that I should try wearing them instead. (look people, I had a 3 1/2 year old, a 23 month old, and a newborn… I couldn’t possibly wear them all!) My youngest is 19 months and he loves being in the sling. I am all about whatever makes life better (and easier) for both mama and baby. Maybe they’d like to spend their day walking around (chasing) him instead?

  25. Once again it seems like people can’t mind their own business. My mom used to carry my older sister (the firstborn) in a sling when she did housework. All of us were “worn” at one point or another and there were no adverse effects. Hell, my little sister even had a harness too, used on occasion during travel since she was an active and feisty toddler. None of us grew up with messed up legs/muscles or thinking we’re dogs. Sheesh. Good on you for finding the humor in it! 😀

  26. I thought that carrying kids were the cool thing to do! Read “PigPig Grows Up”. That will put things into perspective LADY! Geez! lol! Seriously, read the book. It’s awesome. And keep carrying your kid. Carry him as long as you can, even if his legs are dragging on the ground. THEN glare at your opponents and tell them that he doesn’t have functioning legs and this is his only way to experience walking. BAHAHAHAH

  27. Idiots. I had the opposite problem – My son learned to walk before age 1 and never sat down again….He would push his own stroller through the zoo & I’d get looks for that …. I say hug em every chance you get !

  28. It always amazed me when my children were young what people thought I should or shouldn’t do. I had one woman scream at me when my oldest son was sitting in his stroller drooling on the four inch wide strap. She scolded me and told me he was going to choke. I looked at her and said that she had ruined my plans and that now I could not feint ignorance when he did. Needless to say the boy survived not only teething on that strap but being carried on my hip until he was almost four, He is now 5 foot 11 inches tall at 14 years old which is two inches shorter than me so I can’t carry him anymore.

  29. It says a lot about my trashy-magazine-reading habits that the first thing I thought was “Now she knows how Katie Holmes feels…”
    I think the Ergo is awesome; as someone who has no business interfering in your life, I give you my blessing to continue using it.

  30. I don’t have kids, so I’m in NO position to pass judgement. In fact, you are like the model parent in my mind. Society is too critical sometimes. What’s a little carrying of a kid and some visible butt crack?

  31. This post is quite an eye opener for me. During my consultations, I often have todlers set lose to run around and probe everything. It is a dangerous place to let a child run around rampant. It is quite an unrewarding experience for everyone involved: my sanity (I can’t focus on examining the patient and doing an appropriate examination with all the commotion), the parent (unfocused, stressed and confused, busy yelling at the child or chasing after him/her), the child (not listening and just satisfying his/her own curiosity). Bottom line, I never judge those parents and tell them how to look after their kids. I try to help them out and get involved with keeping the kids quiet or contained. I think the ‘Ergo’ carrier is a terrific creation and should be utilised in necessary situations (supermarket, vet clinic & any other hazardous location). I should consider selling some of these carriers at the vet clinic, it would drum up huge business 🙂

    • Thanks, Rayya! The vet’s office is yet another place I wear Squish right now. From nervous patients in the waiting area to the dispensing area behind the exam room, it’s a place that’s fraught with danger.

      A child-restraint hanging next to the leashes. I like it!

  32. I chalk these up to one thing. People think they are the only clever, witty, and observant people in the world.
    I worked in pizza for 11 years and a decent chunk was delivering the pies. I loved it… However I started to notice patterns. No one had anything original to say EVER.
    Easiest example is during extreme weather. Be it a downpour, blizzard, or heatwave everyone has the same thing to say. “Nice weather we’re having isn’t it? ” occasionally I got small variations like, “are you enjoying this weather? ” here I am soaked head to toe, holding their hot dry food for them as they offer a32 cent tip. Yes, this weather is lovely.

    Addendum… To be honest ass much as I hated the same sarcastic joke everyday, I did prefer working in the rain or score because people would actually tip better.

    As for the nurse, well, it just amazes me no one realizes you probably let the child run all over the place at home. But ergo carriers aren’t real popular in my area yet so I’m sure I’d get the same comments.

  33. Some people just need to learn some basic common sense manners – but since they obviously haven’t learned either common sense or manners, let me descend down to their level and deliver them this message on your behalf:

    STFU and MYOB!!!

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