4 year old Minku walks a little unsteady. His diaper is heavy. Till he reaches home, there is no way of changing it. Ever since he was born, he was dressed in diapers. There was not much time in his life when he was off it. Minku has visited doctors numerous times for urinary infections. So was the case with his sister, though she has outgrown the habit of wearing diapers. She is six years old.
Last time Sarala, Shama’s maternal aunt had come for a stay over. A brawl had broken out in the house when Aunt Sarala scolded Shama, her niece for imprisoning her kids.”It’s because of these diapers that your kids are constantly suffering from urinary infections”, she had said. “I don’t have a choice, aunty”, Shama had retorted angrily.
Shama, a working woman struggled to manage her home and office. Yes, diapers were expensive and not very hygienic, perhaps. But did she have a choice? If she were a house wife like many other women in the apartment, then perhaps, she had more time on her hands. Managing to reach her work place, was no less an ordeal. Added to that was the constant needs of her family. She got little or no help from her spouse in taking care of her children. She depended on the maids. If it were not for them, she would not be working today.
The maid who looked after her kids and sent them to school and collected them back, took care of their food and play needs and charged a hefty sum for what she did. She was not someone you could order about. As it is, when she reached home after a hectic day at office, she was at her edgy best. She certainly had no time for Aunt Sarala’s dictum.
Shama hardly had any choice in the diaper matters of her kids. The dirty diaper would remain where it was for hours together. The kids never complained, the nanny was not bothered and Shama was in the office.
When Sarala arrived in Bangalore,she was shocked at the dirt the kids carried around. Body waste deposited in the diaper stayed for more than 3-4 hours. Who had the time to change it? Shama had advised the nanny many times to take care and change diapers on time. The nanny instead accused Shama of not toilet-training her kids. “Where in the world did 6 year- old wear diapers? It’s time the kids were trained.” Well, of course. But who had the time for that?
Aunt Sarala worked her way around with Samitha. the 6 year old. Through stories, discussions and demonstrations, she convinced Sami to use the toilet and slowly Sami discarded the diaper. It was a new learning and when Shama, her mom came home Sami eagerly demonstrated her toilet skills. “Amma, see I went to toilet alone. I don’t need the diaper.”Sami had always disliked the heaviness around her waist.It was never comfortable. She learnt to change her panty after she came back from school. This helped and Sami never had to go to the doctor for urinary infections again. Try as she might, Sarala could not convince the little boy to change his habit. He would heed only to his mother.
Sarala worried about broaching this subject with her neice. She knew how difficult it was for Shama to manage home and work. She kept quiet but she was concerned for her grandson.
She did not want to start off with the old story “In our times….we never”, she knew her niece will have no patience for such ‘gyan’. One day, she brought up the issue as gently as she could. To her surprise and relief, Shama agreed, “Aunt, I understand. I am worried about Minku too.” Well, the two women had a plan and together they worked with the little boy. Slowly buy steadily, Minku learnt to communicate his toilet needs with his mom and grand aunt. That was the beginning.
In a few days time, Minku was enjoying the independence of using the toilet seat under the careful watch of Sarala. Soon Minku was so independent that he did not need diapers any more.
Shama smiled to herself at the ingenuity of her aunt. Why did she never think of this? Any ways she had decided to help and counsel new mothers against trapping their kids in diapers 24×7.
So, when Emin complained, ” You know, akka, my neighbour thinks I am uncouth because I don’t use diapers for little Neil”, Shama replied encouragingly, “It doesn’t matter dear. All that matters is the health of your kid.I am happy you have made a choice, a healthy one too.”
While diaper makers entice young moms with reasons like more hygienic, more up-market, more comfortable, more loving and caring than her own sweet hands, it is important to take the message with a pinch of salt.