Things That Shouldn’t Exist #1



One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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44 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris says:

    Seriously, people. Babies aren’t accessories. They aren’t toys. They aren’t there for your amusement or for clever or ironic photo opps.

    What the hell else are they, then?!

    Actually, when I reflect on it for a moment, I think I’m only half kidding when I ask that. Well, maybe not about the “accessories” part, but the toys part. People play with babies, and amuse themselves with them. This might look like just using the baby, but it’s actually part of how babies learn, and it keeps us interacting with them in ways that we ordinarily wouldn’t interact with drooling little poop machines that can’t talk or understand us or move in an even moderately coordinated manner. The “flirt” shirts and pacifiers arise from that same instinct, and I really think it is an instinct, to play with them like they were warm, squishy little toys. It doesn’t seem at all harmful to me. Maybe I’m missing a piece of it, though.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

      There is playing with a baby and there is playing with a baby. One definition of “with” implies engagement that is mutually beneficial. Another implies that the baby is a means to an end for the player — in this case, the adult.

      Do I think a baby will be harmed by having this pacifier in his/her mouth? No. But do I think the type of parent who sees this and thinks, “That is what I need for my infant,” is likely to make other decisions that might harm that child? Yea. I put this in the category of shirts for 3-year-olds that say “Sexy” on them. Really? We already sexualize children enough… do we need to start the moment they exist the womb?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        I suppose that, to the extent that this sexualizes them, it really is worrisome, but I don’t really think of it sexually. I think of it more in the way that people have, at least as long as I’ve been around, called baby flirts because they smiled at people or just looked cute for them, winning them over.

        That said, I don’t really think that with infants there’s much of a distinction between playing with a baby in the two ways you describe. I think they’re both mutually beneficial, in that the baby gets human interaction and learning, even if that is not in any way our intention in playing with them that way.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        I think the latter form of “play with” can become problematic if it is the only way that a child is seen. You sometimes see this in the way people treat other people’s babies… they’re all about holding them when they’re being cute but as soon as the tears or pee or poop starts flying, they want no part of them. This is somewhat understandable when it is not your baby, but I see some parents do this with their own children, and it bothers me to no end. Because I think (but can’t say with certainty) that this viewpoint is likely to play out throughout the child’s life, which can be very harmful.

        I suppose working amongst the wealthy and elite, where “trophy children” are a real phenomenon might color my perspective on this.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        Oh, with that I agree. If you see the baby only as a play thing, and never as anything more than that, there’s a problem. I just don’t really have a problem with making a baby dance by flailing its arms around (gently, of course) or taking pitctures of him or her with silly hats, even though those things are definitely not intended to benefit the baby, but probably do (because those interactions are more than just cooing at each other, and they’re how the baby learns to interact with people).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        The dancing is actually quite valuable for the baby. And the picture taking can serve as a bonding experience plus the baby learnings by hearing laughter and imitating it.

        I’m referring to people that will fuss with a crying baby to get it into a cute outfit so they can post the picture on Facebook. Ugh. I don’t think that’s healthy.

        And I do think too much posing of the baby while not necessarily unhealthy is certainly annoying and demonstrates parents who might be a bit too self-involved.

        Thing is… the best pictures I have of Mayo are the ones he creates all on his own. The butt-up sleeping pose he favors… the Popeye face he makes when eating… My Instragram is littered with them (largely for sharing with close friends and family) so it is not the photography per say, it is the parents who make it all about them.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        OK, I understand that, too. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I hate Facebook. The “Look at me” through my baby thing is unbelievably annoying to me.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        We’ve yet to post Mayo to FB, though a cousin did. Zazzy and I don’t see exactly eye-to-eye on the matter (I’m more okay with occasional posts where she things the entire thing as suspect), but we’re both of the mindset that our FB feed is not our son’s FB feed. There are a number of people who seem to feel differently about their own.

        I want to punch these people.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        Harrumph. I won’t be friending Chris any time soon!Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        Will, I would say your feed has a pretty healthy and appropriate balance.

        Given that I often speak of Mayo but never show his face, mine implies that the little bugger is something awful to look at and, hence, kept locked in the basement.

        I will also say that I’m still waiting on a friend request from Chris, something he promised back during the hip hop summit.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        Will, I don’t mind showing pictures of your baby. When you have a baby, it’s an incredibly exciting, wonderful thing. It’s good to share that. Some people go well beyond that, though.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Kazzy says:

        Truthfully, I’ve only posted about 50 or so over the last year, though that’s mostly due to my own negligence rather than any sense of propriety. I’ve actually got family members and friends irritated with me over the paucity.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        Oh crap! I did forget to send you a request. In addition to hating babies, I’m also a jerk. I will send it as soon as I get home.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Kazzy says:

        Well, since this post seems to be about questioning other parents choices with maybe a little class coloring, I’ll throw my two cents in. Who cares what the pacifier says, parents should avoid pacifiers and interact with their children to find out the reason for the fussing instead of just plugging up their yappers. There, now that I’ve made my contribution to the parent wars, I feel better.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:


        Can you elaborate on the class issue? I’ve already got a bit of egg on my face for failing to understand the more innocuous use of the term “flirt”. I assumed this difference was geographic. But if it is class, I am prepared to take out my trusty shoehorn to free up my facehole.Report

      • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Kazzy says:

        @cascadian I suspect this will veer things too far off-topic, but what the hell…

        I respectfully disagree about pacifiers. Newborn infants often enjoy “non-nutritive” sucking as a form of soothing, and pacifiers can be a helpful tool for frazzled parents. Sometimes even the most attentive and nurturing parent can’t figure out the “why” of a baby’s fussing, and can have a hard time consoling them. (This is part of the anticipatory guidance I often share at well-child visits with new parents.) Pacifiers can help, though I recommend weaning off of them pretty quickly.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Kazzy says:

        @kazzy “I think the type of parent who sees this and thinks, “That is what I need for my infant,” is likely to make other decisions that might harm that child?”

        “I suppose working amongst the wealthy and elite, where “trophy children” are a real phenomenon might color my perspective on this.”

        “I do think too much posing of the baby while not necessarily unhealthy is certainly annoying and demonstrates parents who might be a bit too self-involved.”

        My first reaction to reading these was, “Wow, Kazzy is fighting a bit of an inferiority complex with the other parents…. that’s unfortunate.”Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Kazzy says:

        @russell-saunders Figuring out a babies needs is one of the most frustrating processes there are. I remember how great it was when Kid learned the word “no”. It took away a ton of guessing.

        “pacifiers can be a helpful tool for frazzled parents”

        That is exactly who they are for. I’d recommend dancing with the tot in your arms as another possibility. Or there’s always, throw your arms up and wait for it to burn itself out.

        I don’t really care. I just wanted to get my shot in at the parent wars while we were all critiquing.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:


        While I think that is a fair reading of those comments, I will say that I pictured very different subsets of the parenting population when making each comment. I can’t expect you to know that, so I don’t object to your summation, but I do disagree with it.

        As someone who works with young children, I am probably uniquely sensitive to behaviors I find harmful to children. I try not to judge, especially things that are matters of taste. But it is hard. My job requires that I seek out and make the best decisions on behalf of children. It is not always easy to turn off.

        When I only understood this pacifier as a reference to a more sexualized definition of “flirt”, I thought it a bridge too far. Understanding its more innocuous definition, I walk back my objection (but leave the post standing as A) evidence of my idiocy and B) fodder for conversation).

        With regards to trophy children, the phenomenon does exist, does seem rather exclusive to the wealthy, and is highly damaging to children. I’m not going to pretend to not hate it.

        And I think being self-involved is a bit of a plague of my generation. When I see babies crying while parents try to get them to pose like their favorite album covers (true stories), I can’t help but think they are self-involved for pursuing their own silly interests at the cost of their child. This cuts across class lines.

        If you knew me in real life (and, again, I don’t fault you for not), you’d know that far more than inferiority, I suffer from arrogance.

        So, you might be better served to read me as a judgmental arrogant prick looking down on other parents for behavior that is probably largely harmless in the grand scheme.

        Should you choose to read me that way, I will raise a pint to you, my friend.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Kazzy says:

        @kazzy “So, you might be better served to read me as a judgmental arrogant prick looking down on other parents for behavior that is probably largely harmless in the grand scheme.”

        Sorry, that’s my shtick and I’m competitive. ; )Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:


        Dress up is all well and good.

        All the people in my case were 100% serious about their outfits.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    When kids are very young, like between just born to around four, their parents and other people seem to treat them as being no different from a pet.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

      And some people treat pets the same as, if not better than, they treat humans.

      We’re a weird species.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        My brother in law, who loves dogs, and I mean really, really loves dogs, will change the channel or leave the room when that Sarah McClachlan animal cruelty commercial comes on, because he simply can’t bear to watch it, but when one of those ChildFund International (used to be Christian Children’s Fund) commercials comes on? He’ll make jokes about the starving little kids in the slums. I find this incomprehensible.

        I do not, however, find the “flirt” pacifiers incomprehensible. It might be a cultural thing, though. “Flirt” is a word people have used to describe babies where I’m from since, well, probably since the invention of the word “flirt.”Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to LeeEsq says:

      When daughter number 1 was born, I did have the feeling I’d gotten another pet…but one that I couldn’t just change my mind about things didn’t go well.

      That was a scary feeling.

      Fortunately things went well.Report

  3. Avatar Will Truman says:

    This might be a matter of different language usage? My in-laws use the word “flirt” to describe Lain when she lights up (gets more-cute-than-usual and playful) around a new person. That she’s being a “flirt.” Struck me as kind of weird, but I got used to it.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

      Judging by your and @chris ‘s comment, it may indeed seem that this term has different meanings to different people. I’ve only ever heard flirt to indicate playful romantic exchanges, such of the sort high schoolers engage in.

      Mayo can work a room and a crowd… smiling to gain attention and then acting coy and hiding his face. So I will sometimes refer to him being a “charmer”. I assume “flirt” functions in a similar way?Report

  4. Avatar NewDealer says:

    My friend noted when her daughter learned how to blow kisses and use them to charm people and get away with things that said daughter should not do.

    What are your feelings on people who dress their kids in Ramones T-shirts or onesies that say Howl (after the Allen Ginsberg poem) or City Lights Bookstore (after the famed San Francisco counter-culture bookshop?) The later two can be found for sale at City Lights Bookstore in San FranciscoReport

    • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer says:

      It’s all cultural signaling.
      I feel sad for the people who
      delude themselves into feeling
      snobby for doing it though.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

      Well, babies have to wear something. If you’d rather they wear the Ramones shirt than the one with Elmo on it, I’m not sure that really matters.

      But as children get older, I think it better to allow them to pursue their own interests, and this includes what they represent on their clothing. It shouldn’t be no-holds-barred… they are still children… and parents should be encouraged to share their passions with their children, including music and culture… but the goal shouldn’t be to turn the children into clones of the adults.

      Zazzy often asks me what I think about a particular outfit for Mayo. My standard response is, “I’m pretty sure it will end up covered in shit and/or throw up within a few hours.” After a glare, I just say it looks great no matter what it is.Report

  5. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    So I shouldn’t have gotten my son a shirt that says, “I’m a boob man”?Report

  6. The Better Half is intensely averse to posting personal stuff on the Internet, akin to my impression of Zazzy’s take. I am more loosy-goosy on the matter, but have come to defer to his preferences. Plus, it seems far too easy to plunder personal pictures posted on Facebook and such, and so I’m chary of inadvertently letting people gather pictures of my kids.

    But I have posted a few videos of the Critter, primarily when he was at his most awesome. (For balance, I suppose I could have posted a few of him thrashing like a madman to avoid being put in a time out.) Was part of it so people could think nice things about me as a parent by proxy? I’d like to think not, but perhaps that’s not being fully honest with myself.

    In any case, I agree with the sentiments expressed in the OP. Children are not wee little picture boxes into which we project our ideas of what we’d like them or expect them to be. The greatest and most humbling realization I’ve had to come to as a parent is that my kids will be who they are, and will not bend to my specifications. I can do my best to model and instruct and encourage, and Lord knows I do. But they’re going to be their own people, and crafting a persona on their behalf seems ill-advised, at best.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      For anyone who follows me on FB, you can attest that damn near anything I put there is intended to disparage the people I know and love. Zazzy hates (playfully, for the most part) that I only put up the funny, embarassing, or otherwise silly about her, myself, or the baby. I’m just not good at bragging. Which is not to say that others are bragging or that there is anything wrong with bragging. It is just so contrary to my nature. So I’m more likely to make “Look how dumb my baby is” posts than “Look how awesome my baby is” posts.

      One day, I will pay for this.Report

  7. Avatar dhex says:

    i see your less than tasteful pacifier and raise you the eight or nine year old girl on the subway i saw last year wearing a shirt that read “milf in training”. she was riding with her mom. it was uh yeeeaah.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to dhex says:

      I thought kids of that age wearing short shorts that say “Juicy” across the ass was bad, but you’ve topped that by a mile or two (thousand).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        At a summer camp I used to work at, we would debate which was worse: the 50-year-old moms in leather pants or their 10-year-old daughters in the same.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Ironically, an infant’s onesie that had “Juicy” across the backside would strike me as a fair-to-middlin’ joke.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        @kazzy Just to be difficult and Blaise isn’t around to torment.

        One of the best times I had with my nieces when they were young….. like 4 and 8 was to buy them some fake leather pants and a disco ball. We had dance parties for a week straight.

        Madam Justice Mclachlin looks hot in a leather mini.Report