Monday, May 14, 2012

Somebody' got to do it

Parenting is hard work. The uproar over the accusation by a Democrat strategist that Mitt Romney’s wife hadn’t worked a day in her life despite being a stay-at-home mother has highlighted the job of raising children. Yes, it is hard work, although it is unpaid. If you have raised kids, you already know how much effort is put into all sorts of teaching and training. Sure, there’s the whole ‘love’ factor. We take care of our children and prepare them for adulthood because we love them. But there is a bit of a startling trend that I need to report.
As I was chewing my breakfast Thursday morning with the radio playing, I heard an interview with a woman who apparently began a company which specializes in... well, let’s just me just tell you the name of the firm: PTS. That stands for International Potty Training Services. Yup. Now you can hire someone to potty-train your child. At first I thought it was just a joke interview on the AM radio. Well, if it’s a joke, the joke also has a website. ( And the lady with the nondescript foreign accent seemed to have all the answers. She didn’t reveal her secrets, of course. And she kept the toilet talk to a minimum, perhaps because the interviewer was as amazed as myself that someone would consider hiring out for this kind of service.
For those of you who are truly curious, the website is full of items and cute pictures of kids sitting on toilets of various sizes. The page I sought out was the one listing the types of services available. From the looks of things, there is a $200 initial psychological exam to determine why a parent is calling out to have someone else do the work. Once that is completed, you can choose two different types of service. Number one, short-term training or number two (if you’ll pardon the expression), long-term training. Short-term is for those 18 months of age or older. Long-term is for the younger ones, as young as nine months old.
The other choices are to either bring in a trainer into the home or to get tips from the experts via phone or email. In-home trainers are paid anywhere from $20-$55 per hour, while phone tips are dispensed at anywhere from $1.25 - $2.00 per minute, depending on how many hours a day the expert is on call. I’m not sure what the difference in quality would be. I’m thinking that’s the risk you take.
As I’ve pondered the whole idea of hired gun potty-training experts, I have considered children with special needs as a possible legitimate case for the PTS experts. After that, I’m a little stumped. I’m afraid that PTS is a symptom of that growing problem of detached parenting. I’m very thankful that I had loving parents who helped me with everything from potty-training to learning to cook and do my own laundry. And I’ve tried my best to be an involved, instructive parent for my kids also. But I think we all know that there are some parents who, by choice or due to unforeseen circumstances, aren’t all that involved in their kids’ activities, schoolwork, friends, or even behavior. Is PTS just another excuse for a parent to skip out on basic parenting? It could be, but at $55 an hour it would certainly be an expensive method of avoidance.
I get that some parents try to avoid changing diapers or doing the dirty work of potty training on occasion. I never did shirk my responsibilities in this department, although if there was a cheap potty training expert that could teach my dogs to use the commode, especially at 3 a.m., I’d be mighty tempted to shell out the funds. But for children, let’s all try to wipe away the urge to push that responsibility onto someone else.

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