I know, what in the world? Bonnie is defending the infamous Nadya Suleman -- the single, jobless woman who used government assistance checks to spring for fertility treatments that resulted in 14 fatherless babies being born to her?
Well, I am defending her, but not because she deserves it. Because parents everywhere deserve it.
If you are a longtime follower of my blog, you already know that I think Ms. Suleman is a despicable, lying, selfish excuse for a human being, so I don't need to go over that again. (If you missed them the first time, you can read past posts about her here and here). But Ms. Suleman has found herself in the news again thanks to her hairdresser, who felt Ms. Suleman's kids were living in "squalor" and reported her to the authorities. An investigation resulted in "shocking" photos of her children doing such horrifying things as using training potties in the backyard and wandering around dirty without any pants on. Pictures also showed a bedroom covered in laundry, mattresses on the floor, and graffiti on the walls.
The cherry on top? A picture showing how she had locked her kids in their room by propping a chair against the door so they couldn't get out.
Poor form? Maybe. But before you get all indignant, I'd just like to share one small statistic with you: 99.9% of reasonable parents have, or will at some point, lock a child in his or her room. It's called time-out -- you know, that method of discipline that pediatricians tell you is preferable to spanking? And it's not wrong.
Now, I can't say whether Ms. Suleman locked her children in their room for minutes or hours, but the mere existence of a photo that suggests she locked some of her children in their room for some period of time is not anything to get in a huff about. Not only have I locked all three of my children in their rooms before, I have locked them out of rooms as well. This is a child protection technique known as "Mom needs to be in the bathroom by herself for five minutes or she is going to murder someone." And it's okay.
I looked at the rest of the pictures and can only conclude thus: they show a house that looks exactly how you would expect a house with 14 children, 8 of them toddlers, to look.
So there is laundry all over the floor in one room. Of course there is. There are 14 kids in the house and only one mother. So a bunch of kids are running around without pants on - if she is potty training (as is implied due to the fact that there are training potties scattered about and the kids are 3ish-years old, prime potty-training age) then it would make sense that there would be naked bums running around. This is exactly how I potty train -- I let my kids play naked and the potty follows them everywhere. Once they are doing well enough to not pee in their underwear every time I turn around, I let them run around in undies without any pants on. And if I had a private, fenced-in backyard, you can bet that at some point a potty would follow them outside.
Yes, her kids are dirty. Of course they are. They are kids. Mine, in particular, are experts at filth. Give them thirty seconds and they would be able to make a mess out of anything. That's what kids do. They also like to draw on the walls and, believe it or not, sleep on the floor. This is not a hardship and doesn't harm them.
As for what moms do, sometimes I let my laundry pile sit for a week. Sometimes my kids draw and paint all over the walls and it's a few days before I take a magic eraser to their artwork. Sometimes there are training potties outside. Sometimes I lock my kids in their rooms for a few minutes. Sometimes I don't pick up all the toys at the end of the day. Sometimes I don't sweep, mop, or do the dishes. Sometimes my kids run around without clothes on. And sometimes all of those things come together in one spectacular day.
I do not like Nadya Suleman, but disliking someone is not justification for condemning them on account of a few pictures that could have come straight out of any frazzled mom's home. We love to jump to conclusions when presented with evidence, however slight, that confirms our prejudices, but that doesn't mean that we are right.
For once, Ms. Suleman, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.