There's Not a Rule Book for This Job

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. A secret known only to everyone who knows me in real life and all the people who like Catholic All Year on Facebook but no one else.

Sometimes I put the Bumbo on the table.

Okay, maybe it would be more shocking coming from someone else. I already kinda let this cat out of the bag with the "stuff I do while pregnant" post. Anyway . . .

Lulu is currently smack dab in the middle of the short window in which I find a Bumbo seat to be a sanity-saver. She's big enough that I don't want to wear her all the time, but not yet able to sit up. She doesn't like to be left alone, and is not at all fooled by the dangly stuffed birds over the swing. She likes people.

Enter the Bumbo. She loves being able to sit in it and watch me cook. Sometimes I put her on the lazy-susan in the middle of the kitchen table and the kids fight over which way to point her. She's happy to sit in it and watch us do schoolwork.

yes, Gus is wearing a balloon hat
no, I don't know why

It works great for pictures, since she's all propped up.

Sometimes I put those pictures on Facebook.

Sometimes people worry about those photos.

As if the recommendations on the side of the Bumbo somehow trump the laws of physics and my baby might just spring out of it heavenward despite our frantic attempts to stop her. All because she was on the table. In the Bumbo.

just about too chubby for the Bumbo

Why? Because we have been conditioned to worry about it. We have been told that such-and-such a practice is A DANGER and must NEVER be done. So we've lost the ability to assess one particular situation to see if a danger actually exists in that one particular situation.

Here is the problem with that type of thinking: if I mindlessly parent only according to the "public service announcement" type approved-parenting-practices, I'm just checking boxes. I'd say to myself, "Bumbos must not be on the counter. Counters are dangerous. The floor is SAFE."

But what if that's not true in my particular circumstances? What if, at that particular moment, on the counter she has my eyes on her and is in arm's reach, but on the floor she'd be difficult to see and might be stepped on or kicked over or poked by a toddler or snatched by a wild dingo?

Dingos can't eat your baby if she's on the counter.

I'm not saying that putting a Bumbo on the counter is always a good idea. Bad things can absolutely happen in a Bumbo. We've all got to be mindful.

But the problem isn't just a Bumbo on the counter. The problem is not properly accounting for that day's particular circumstances.

I put the baby in the Bumbo on the counter, IF I can do it safely. Which I very often can.

I suppose it would be nice if there really were one-size-fits all parenting rules. If it really was ALWAYS safe to put the Bumbo on the floor or ALWAYS deadly to leave children in a car even for a moment or NEVER appropriate to swim less than thirty minutes after eating.

But the fact is, parenting isn't one-size-fits all. It's not that easy. It requires constant assessment and a thousand little decisions a day. What's right for one situation on one day might not be right for a similar situation on another day.

I can't pass my responsibility for making appropriate, situation-based decisions on some set of imaginary rules just because "everyone" says. I have done enough parenting to know that much for sure.

So if you see a photo of Lulu in the Bumbo, and it's up on the counter, please assume that we were having an infestation of vicious ground-dwelling creatures. Or lava. And I was totally within arm's reach.

Speaking of danger . . .