Recently I was bragging to my parent about how great I am at raising children because I follow the principles laid out in the recent All Joy, No Fun parenting manifesto. If you are like me and don’t want to read the whole book, you can read the article and listen to this podcast. The author finds some awesome pseudo science about the idea of “flow” and how children are happiest when they are not aware of time. The problem is that parents are terrible at joining in children’s flow (I cannot watch the same Tinker Bell movie 10,000 times or convincingly get lost in a game of doll dressing and undressing). The other problem is that parents these days are incapable of ignoring their own children, thus becoming sad and tired, while inhibiting their kids’ flow. I LOVE this theory because it justifies all of my nanny technique. Basically I ignore the child by reading a New Yorker or having a conversation with another adult. The kid is all like “I don’t know what to do!” and I’m like “figure it out.” Then an hour later I notice that he is roaming around the house talking to himself and making sure all his My Little Ponies are appropriately prepared for the Grand Galloping Gala. This works even better when another kid is around and can also talk to itself while walking around next to him. But life is not always one big play date, sometimes you have to have a play date with yourself. You know, work on your own flow. God I love this term.
But, as I was talking about how great I am at childcare with my parent, they were like “I used to fantasize about potty training all my children by having them be naked all the time.” See the genius idea is that if the kid did not have diapers or pants to mystify its own pee, then it would learn to hold its pee, direct its pee, put its pee on particular things.
Then we had a real revelation: this single genius parenting idea could be the basis of a whole parenting manifesto: Paleo Parenting! Like people who try to rid themselves of fat and disease by getting back to a caveman’s diet, we could help (trick?) parents into raising children without the shackles of modernity! Think about it–all paleo kids would have long hair and no clothes and thus evade the gender distinctions of hairstyles and dresses vs. pants. They would be around each others’ genitals all the time and thus get over the weird secrecy surrounding “private parts.” We could play on the nostalgia for the negligent parenting of the 70’s by having the kids run around outside and build structurally unsound forts without any parental supervision. I would make a million dollars writing this book (as would you C., if you want to co-author) because having things be unsupervised is the opposite of how Park Slope parents raise their kids and 1) Park Slope parents love a counter-intuitive theory and 2) they love buying parenting manifestos.