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Situational Ethics and Hypocrisy

Or: Why the Government-sponsored Plastic Reduction and Eradication (PRE) Program Sucked
Or: Why I Can’t Possibly Buy Another Elmo Potty and Have Another Baby

We’re taking a break from Tales of My Traveling Past this week so that I can bring you Tales of My Obnoxious and Insufferably Principled Past. The Lonely Blogosphere and our expert guides are still Traveling the Blogosphere at All Mediocre. Stop by and meet the Cakerwakers.

Remember back to a week or so ago, before I briefly went very serious on you? Back to my great potty training adventures and the Elmo potty wars? The awesome Michelle from Honest and Truly made the extremely sensible suggestion that I purchase one or possibly even two more Elmo potties. One for each of my children. That way Ess could pee when she had to go, Gee could sit on his potty until his ass grew into the seat like that poor woman in Kansas and Cue could push his potty around the room as a bizarre urinary walker.

I went to Shopco twice (twice!) to buy another Elmo potty or two and I absolutely could not do it. Two reasons. First, Elmo potties are made of plastic. Second, HSSH and I think we may possibly, maybe, (not right this minute) want another baby.

Stick with me there’s sick logic here somewhere.

In college, I was a card-carrying member of the Zero Population Growth organization. They advocate having only two kids – called the replacement number. This seemed reasonable before I had kids. My major was environmental science. I read a lot about how humans are exceeding the earth’s capacity to feed and water us and we need to do something about that.

Years later, when I was pregnant with Gee and HSSH and I were in the no man’s land between globe-hopping, childless, care-free dog lovers and tied down, worried parents of a newborn, we made an anti-plastic pact. It was the result of an obnoxious and ignorant conversation that involved a lot of snarking about how much plastic our already-reproduced friends had and how we would NEVER ever own that much plastic. Never. Ever. We are both signatories to the great Anti-plastic Pact of 2005.

Stop laughing. No really. Stop.

Shortly after that our first child and two new plastic-loving, over-reproducing hypocrites, uh I mean parents, were born. It turns out that I adore both babies and plastic, at least when the babies are my own and the plastic makes their care easier for me.

Back when I roundly criticized my plastic-owning friends behind their backs, I was ignorant to some key plastic facts. Babies exude plastic from their pores, which then melds into baby appendages like booster chairs and activity centers and Bumbo seats. Like the black gunk on Spiderman only more pervasive. Also, plastic reproduces like rabbits. It’s sneaky. Little plastic cars breed under the couch at night. Plastic grocery store food spawns little plastic fake foodlets in the basement while we’re at the park.

Caught in the act.

Plastic was taking over our house and strangling all other forms of life. We knew we had to take drastic action. We decided to participate in a top-secret government pilot program for plastic reduction and eradication (PRE). They used money earmarked in the Ridiculous Experiments and Laughable Waste of Tax Funds (REAL – WTF) bill to create an experimental plastic eating DNA sequence that could be inserted into the human genome. The premise of the experiment was to create plastic eating babies (PRE-BABIES). We allowed them to implant this sequence into our third child while in utero. This took place in an underground hangar in a town that doesn’t exist in Arizona.

The PRE-BABY is on the left. Notice the inefficiency of his technique.

The PRE-BABY program was a disastrous failure and a huge embarrassment for the government, which hardly ever happens. Unfortunately, in a design flaw similar to the ethanol program, the PRE-BABY requires more plastic to maintain than it eats. The program is now defunct and it’s top scientists are in jail for brain-washing Matt Damon. Meanwhile, the plastic just keeps multiplying. It appears that once you’ve gone baby, returning to PRE-BABY plastic status is close to impossible. It’s never been achieved in a controlled scientific environment.

The week of the Elmo potty wars, I bought a NY Times in a vain attempt to be informed about something besides Elmo potties. The NY Times Magazine had a feature about The Garbage Patch, a Texas-sized flotilla of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. Reading the article, I felt tense and itchy about my failure to do better and teach my children to eat more plastic. We (and by we I mean, us, personally, the anyfamily) are burying our priceless biosphere in trash and we need to stop.

My hypocrisy chafes me every day. While we are breeding our own Garbage Patch of plastic to rival the nightmare in the Pacific Ocean, I freely day dream about exceeding our allotted replacement number of children and reproducing recklessly and with abandon.

My principals are crumbling on all sides. The sand shifts beneath my feet. There’s little left to cling to. I have to draw the line somewhere and it’s been drawn, dark and heavy. We might own enough plastic to restock a Walmart. We just might contribute to the population explosion by adding yet another adorable (it’s my blog) anyoffspring to the world. But, we will own only one Elmo potty.

In solidarity, Anymommy.

41 Responses to Situational Ethics and Hypocrisy
  1. Robin
    July 16, 2008 | 8:25 am

    I think I love you. I’d come over and give you a (completely non-freaky stalkerish) hug but I can’t climb over the mountain of failed principles. Toy swords, anyone?

  2. Pam
    July 16, 2008 | 10:52 am

    You are just too funny!! Love ya!


  3. iMommy
    July 16, 2008 | 11:30 am

    Failed principles?! Where?!

    That never happens when open-minded, hopefully naive and optimistic college grads become parents…

    Whoops, there’s that faulty optimism again. :-)

  4. Melissa
    July 16, 2008 | 12:39 pm

    Been there. :)

    Very good chuckle. Thanks!

  5. Inzaburbs
    July 16, 2008 | 12:59 pm

    Sad but true. All our wooden toys recently went into the garage sale box. Because while there are piles of brightly colored plastic around, my kids won’t play with them.

    I see kids in trendy shelter magazines who have only wooden toys and I am sure it works for them (or did they just cram all the plastic into those expensive looking dressers for the shoot?) but I am now sadly of the opinion that once you go plastic you can never go back.

    They don’t make Transformers, Barbies or My Little Pony in wood. Or Lego.

    A thought though – did you check the bottom of the potties to see if they are recyclable? Then maybe you won’t have to make your offspring eat them.

  6. reneedesigns
    July 16, 2008 | 1:03 pm

    Yeah plastic is the devil but apparently for kids its a necessary devil. Just hold a huge rummage sale when your kids out grow them and let the plastic become someone else’s problem.

    By the way I have a little something special for you over at my blog. Stop by and check it out.

  7. A Mom Two Boys
    July 16, 2008 | 1:19 pm

    “The PRE-BABY program was a disastrous failure and a huge embarrassment for the government, which hardly ever happens.” Luckily I had no coffee in my mouth or it would have been all over my laptop.

    Before my sister had her son, she and her husband decided that they were NEVER going to have toys that made noise. That, too, quickly changed. (Hi Quart!).

  8. anymommy
    July 16, 2008 | 1:39 pm

    Robin – I wish we could beat them down and have coffee (after the nf hug), but I think we have a few oceans to contend with as well.

    Pam – Good morning – thanks!

    Imommy – Great perspective. I’m not now a downtrodden hypocritical cynic, I was just then naive and optimistic and wide-eyed!

    Melissa – any time ;-)

    Inzaburbs – I just checked. I had to dump it out first – how gross is that?! I need to stop blogging all evening and clean my house. No symbol. Looks like they will need to eat it. I’ll save it for when they’re sixteen and they do something truly horrid.

    Renee – I’ll be there!

  9. merideth
    July 16, 2008 | 1:41 pm

    i see no pictures, but i loved reading it, nonetheless. we absolutely LOVE watching our oldest child going through this very thing since his daughter’s birth a year ago. and i am a good enough mom that i don’t say ‘i told you so’ each time he compromises another pre-baby ethic. :)

  10. anymommy
    July 16, 2008 | 1:43 pm

    Oh! I love you Quart. Fully 3/4 of our plastic beeps or sings or hoots or something equally annoying. I have a particular loathing for this little tea pot that used to sing “i’m a little tea pot” when you tipped it over until I THREW the damn thing away. (And, now it floats in the Pacific Ocean, irritating dolphins.)

  11. Marinka
    July 16, 2008 | 2:09 pm

    This is a huge relief. I was worried that your post was some sort of call for all of us to reduce our carbon footprint, but now I see that this whole plastic situation is entirely your family’s fault.

  12. Always Home and Uncool
    July 16, 2008 | 2:45 pm

    Maintaining one’s principles and dealing with your kids are not necessarily compatible. In the end, God shall forgive you even if the plastic police don’t.

  13. Jennifer
    July 16, 2008 | 4:23 pm

    On the floor laughing again. Maybe we could tie all our old plastic toys together, float them in the South Pacific, cover them with sand, a couple of palm trees, a hotel, and some nannies and visit several times a year?

  14. anymommy
    July 16, 2008 | 4:46 pm

    Meredith – I’ll look forward to that with the next generation.

    Marinka – No need to fear calls to action here. Those in glass houses can not rally others.

    Always home – hmmmmm, I maybe should work on the plastic police? I’m not sure of my status with the big guy.

    Jennifer – That is brilliant. Are you running for president? I’d vote for you.

  15. Ryan
    July 16, 2008 | 6:01 pm

    okay, i’ve got an idea, and i think it might win me a nobel prize. plastic credits. stay with me now. you send me money, and i’ll make sure someone in sub-saharan africa or the amazon doesn’t use any plastic ever. you continue pigging out on plastic, and if you feel like you’re using too much, send me more money. it’s a win-win. i accept cash or paypal.

  16. Amy in Ohio
    July 16, 2008 | 8:05 pm

    This post made me laugh. I was such an amazing parent before I had my child – too bad she missed out on the days when I knew everything!

  17. Andrea's Sweet Life
    July 16, 2008 | 8:17 pm

    I decided not to buy anything from China, for ONE MONTH, just to see if I could do it. DAMMIT, is everything made in CHINA? I couldn’t even shop at TARGET for cryin’ out loud!

    So, I feel your pain. We try, try, try… some things in life are unavoidable. But HEY! You could get a couple of ceramic pots, paint Elmo on them with non-toxic paint, and have them use those. Problem solved. You. are. welcome.

    Also. I linked to your “Just Be” post today. Hope you don’t mind!

  18. Mama Ginger Tree
    July 16, 2008 | 8:41 pm

    While I was pregnant I was never going to let my kids “cry it out.” I was also appalled that some of my friends used candy to bribe their kids to use the potty!

    My kids all slept through the night after one or two night of screaming it out and my three year old son still asks for a Skittle when he goes potty. And I give it to him.

    You are awesome.

  19. anymommy
    July 16, 2008 | 9:43 pm

    Ryan – Capitalizing on guilt. Brilliant again. Are you running for president?

    I have some great minds commenting on this blog.

    Ginger, Andrea and Amy – So good to feel not alone.

  20. that girl
    July 16, 2008 | 9:45 pm

    So funny. WE’re all hypocrits – it’s part of the job.

  21. jen
    July 16, 2008 | 11:47 pm

    you are too funny…

    a wee bit gross, i know…and i’m sure someone else has mentioned it…

    but have you looked into pre-owned elmo potties?? i’m sure there has to be one out there in your neck of the woods…craigslist…garage sales…

    then at least you aren’t responsible for adding to the plastic…you are just taking care of someone else’s junk…slightly more responsible????

  22. Michelle
    July 17, 2008 | 2:06 am

    That was one of the funnier posts I’ve read in a long time. We have the same plastic issue at my house…. My only saving grace is that I try to repopulate my plastic at shelters once it’s exceeded its useful life at my house. That makes me be about .this. much better. At least I’m trying!

  23. MomMega
    July 17, 2008 | 3:37 am

    Ahhh yes. After visiting my friend with twins and seeing the plastic in her living room, we too promised that we would NEVER have a living room full of toys. Ha. HAHAHA! Yeah.

  24. jenn
    July 17, 2008 | 11:07 am

    Great post! Made me think of all the things I promised never to do when I had children – like “bottle propping”. All was okay until my second daughter was born 12 months and 1 week after my first. Now I try to promise myself just not to prop it too much while I run around like a crazy woman. Funny how that works!

  25. D
    July 17, 2008 | 1:05 pm

    I freely day dream about exceeding our allotted replacement number of children and reproducing recklessly and with abandon. Go at it…we MUST outpace the plastic.

  26. Tracey
    July 17, 2008 | 2:15 pm

    You truly are a quirky “gal”. :)

    Don’t forget to buy USED plastic. (maybe not the potty seats, so much… ew.) It makes you feel like you’re helping out by using that plastic a bit longer…

  27. Quart
    July 17, 2008 | 7:43 pm

    Actually it was my husband who made the “no toys that make noise” rule. He is the same guy who made a “four mouths to feed” rule and told me that as long as we have the cat we could only have one kid. Now we have the cat and two kids and I keep telling him that I’m going to get rid of him to get a dog. He also had “no DVD player in the car” rule. Uh huh. I love Amy in Ohio’s comment about being a perfect parent before she had a kid. Weren’t we all?

    Oh, and our house is FULL of plastic, but I figure that when we’re done with it it will get passed on to friends or Goodwill and someone else will use it. And never throw it away, I’m sure.

  28. zarafa
    July 17, 2008 | 8:41 pm

    well if i can’t figure out what the mysterious plastic thing-a-ma-bobbers are, i shall send them to you for your PRE-baby to dispose of properly. ;)

  29. Nadia
    July 17, 2008 | 9:53 pm

    get pre owned pottys..or buy the 3 elmo pottys and re sell or freecycle them when done! we have pre owned pottys which I am in the process of reselling again.. and it’s nothing a little bleach won’t kill..for petes sake it’s just kids using them :0)

  30. Minivan Mom
    July 18, 2008 | 1:00 am

    As a fellow mom whose reality does not quite measure up to my idealogy, LOVE THIS.

  31. anymommy
    July 18, 2008 | 2:43 am

    Jenn, Tracey and Nadia – I have to admit that it never even occurred to me to buy a used potty. I am both repulsed and intrigued. Bleach is my friend, so I might try.

    Michelle and Quart – I do take things to Goodwill regularly. Good point.

    Dee – I’m not kidding when I tell you that you’re going to be the one holding my hand if I birth another baby. Careful what you wish for.

    MM – thanks.

    These comments about reusing and recycling did point out one thing that I missed. The more babies that I have – the less guilty I need to feel about all the plastic. It’s being used so hard. Closed loop. Beautiful.

  32. Z
    July 18, 2008 | 12:10 pm

    Hey! This is nothing about this post, but I couldn’t get your “email me” button to work and so I’m leaving this SOS msg ;) (And that is my computer, not your site)

    Basically, I’m being an idiot and I can’t figure out how to log on to AllMediocre to put up a post (and yes, Meghan did give me a login) – since I know you do it (and so well!) I was hoping you could give me an idiot’s guide to logging on, since my addled brain can’t seem to get it… (Or Quart, if you see this – since I’ve seen at least 2 comments from you on this post ;)

    Thanks, Z

  33. Robin
    July 18, 2008 | 1:25 pm

    Aack. Rereading my comment you do realize that I meant my own mountain of failed principles, right? Because otherwise that would be a fairly obnoxious thing for me to have said.

    When oh when is blogger going to add an edit comments feature to save us all from our own missteps…

  34. anymommy
    July 18, 2008 | 2:31 pm

    Robin, I knew exactly what you meant. And, even if you had meant my principles, it would have been funny!

    Amen on the blogger thing though – I cringe about my comments sometimes, especially when I type their instead of ‘they’re’ or ‘there.’ I’m not dum, I just cans’t edut teh commnt! Also, when will blogger let you email the commenter directly like wordpress? So that you don’t have to wonder if they ever checked back.

  35. Kate
    July 18, 2008 | 4:40 pm

    This is very funny. I’ve always said that I have a zero population growth rule for the plastic invading our house. I never considered making the kids eat it though…intriguing.

  36. Teresa
    July 18, 2008 | 10:54 pm

    Oh my goodness, so funny. When I read about the babies eating the plastic experiment, I almost peed on the rocks like Soccer did the other day. Always such noble intentions we mommies have-like I wasn’t EVER going to use dispoable diapers. That lasted until the first poop.

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