I had a play date recently with one of the moms in the neighborhood and her kid, who is a few months younger than Claire.
While we were heading home from our outing, she and I got on the subject of potty-training. We were talking about methods, and eventually got on the subject of potty seats. Ring seat on the toilet? Potty chair on the floor? I hadn't gotten as far as telling her what we tried, when she said that she's been using the ring seat on the toilet, taking care to point out that it was a plain white one.
Then she mentioned a conversation on the subject with our another neighborhood mom. Mom #2 (to keep it clear, I hope) is looking into potties, and wants to get a ring seat decorated with characters, since she believes that her kid will probably like that better, the assumption being that it would then be easier to get the kid to use it.
"(My kid) hasn't been exposed to too many characters yet," Mom #1 explained. "What about Claire?"
I was thrown for a moment. Suddenly idle playground chit chat turned the corner into something slightly more fraught with meaning. Was she just asking what I did since my kid is the oldest one of the three toddlers we were discussing? Or, was she implying that her choice not to expose her kid to commercial characters was somehow a more valid parenting choice than Mom #2's.
To be honest, I hadn't given it too much thought. Claire likes watching Dora and Bobby-Builder. And I know she's more likely to finish the food in the bowl so she can find the Elmo at the bottom. I started off with a plain white ring seat on the toilet, and she HATED it with a fury, where she is willing to sit on the Elmo potty.
Most of her toys are generic toys, with a few TV friends thrown in. She has a Dora doll, but rarely plays with it. She loves her Sesame Street books and coloring books, but also loves her classic children's books too. And her new big-girl bed has Dora bedding, but we're not redecorating the room.
There is no moral high ground here, is there?
Exposing a kid is a completely individual choice to each family. Claire gets to watch TV, occasionally, as a reward, and she seems to love Dora, so there are a few Dora related things in the house now. She also has a Bob the Builder Doll and loves her Winnie the Pooh. I wouldn't refuse something on principle, but I know moms who do. And I know moms who've let their kids watch TV and have character-based toys from much earlier ages.
How do you draw the line?
Where do you draw the line, if you do?