I assumed newly patterned duct tape was intended for art projects, but it seems some parents, teachers, and caregivers are using it as a time-out option. To be perfectly clear, I do not find the act of duct taping a toddler to a wall or taping close a teenager’s constantly running mouth facetious. It is yet another example of how any immature imbecile can have kids and prove themselves worthy of my immature name calling by posting Facebook pics of duct taped-kid handiwork. The absurdity is what makes me laugh, just like when I watch the dumb criminals show on TV. Teachers and daycare workers who are trained and paid to curb child behavior must have lost some of their minds to believe kids deserve to be duct taped. I imagine all those perspectives change dramatically when the police show up to let them know in crystal-clear fashion that they do not see the humor, nor find it justifiable. In 2011 parents received 30 to 36 months in jail for duct taping their kids and last week a daycare worker in Kentucky was charged with first degree child abuse and is facing up to ten years for taping a toddler to the floor during nap time. Toddlers are chocked full of energy and curiosity and they lack impulse control, traits that they will also exhibit as teenagers when it’s even harder to assert one’s authority over the independent hellions. I do not often judge other parents. I had my turn and made hundreds of mistakes. I defended the Mom who admitted to drinking wine the night that her baby was stolen from her home because Moms get blamed for everything. It isn’t as if she was breast-feeding. Wine and parenting are frequent partners, especially after little ones are tucked in for the night, and almost assuredly when the kids are sleeping over at Grandma and Grandpa’s. The most any parent can hope for is to not saddle a kid with emotional ghosts that subtract from their ability to find joy. Duct tape restraints definitely fall into that no redeeming value category with potential of turning a kid on to a bondage fetish or worse.
When you think about it, is a time-out for the kid or for the parent? My own toddler would not sit in a time-out chair for more than 10 seconds because she could not be still that long. At first I spent a lot of time arguing with her, always an exercise in futility. Toddlers just don’t grasp logic and no amount of reasoning convinced her that sitting in a chair for 5 minutes was a doable consequence for naughtiness. Having been raised on whippins myself, time-outs were crucial to my sanity and her survival, so I exiled my daughter to her bedroom where there weren’t any toys to distract her at bedtime. Or so I thought. I wrongly surmised that she was willing to stay in her room because she could move about until I discovered her project in the deep recesses of her closet. Apparently, she had smuggled in crayons and her time-outs were used to create a huge mural on 3 walls that stretched 3 feet up from the floor. It was one of the many moments that my baby was instantly forgiven due to my love-blind admiration of her creativity and inability to control my laughter. During her toddler years I developed a litmus test for offenses that were worthy of discipline and lasted throughout the years we were learning together. Naughtiness that fell into the safety and values categories were what I chose to focus on, the remaining temper tantrums, whining, making messes, embarrassing me, and general naughtiness all fell into the being a kid category. Life as a Mom became easier once I realized that I did not need her compliance to validate my position as boss and stopped having power-struggles with my 2-year-old. So, although I understand how some parents and caregivers may consider duct tape as harmless discipline or as one defendant put it, “a fun game that he asked us to play”, I urge them to let a child duct tape them to a chair for a much-needed adult time-out. And good luck convincing them to let you go free.
My good friend and loyal blog follower David alerted me to this article in yesterday’s New York Times about a teacher who takes absurdity to the next level (and beyond really).