As part of my family’s Friday Night Pizza tradition, we enjoy our pizza in front of the TV. We usually have a series that we’re working through. It used to be MythBusters, until we ran out of Netflix reruns. Now we are slowly working our way through Dirty Jobs, featuring Mike Rowe. If you think that a show like Dirty Jobs might be a little hard to watch while eating dinner, you’re right. It is not the most intuitive choice, but while I have sometimes had trouble swallowing, the kids do not seem bothered.
I knew it was coming at some point, and sure enough, the episode we watched this last Friday featured a day care diaper-changing situation. Fortunately, they can’t show much on TV, but I’ve had enough diaper changing experience that my imagination had no trouble filling in, both images and smells. Yuck.
But after I set my pizza aside and really started watching, a whole new wave of yuck came over me. This particular facility (or maybe this was just one room in a facility??) was only babies between about 6 and 12 months. There were 7 or 8 babies, and 3 female caretakers.
It was so sad. The room itself was depressing. There were lots of toys, some yucky carpet in the play area, and grungy vinyl in the kitchen area. There was very little natural light, and instead the room was filled with those big awful commercial florescent lights. One of the women opened up the fridge to show us the babies’ bottles, and the fridge was neatly organized with a basket for each baby, each containing the appropriate number of bottles for the day. The days were completely scheduled: bottles at a specific times, diapers at specific times, naps at specific times. Most of the time, the babies were either in some sort or bouncer, pack-n-play, exersaucer, or entertaining themselves on the floor.
But the saddest part was the fact that these babies got dropped off at 8 and picked up at 5. They weren’t just there for a couple hours. They were there all day. Every day.
In our race to make sure that women are fulfilled, and have proven themselves to be equals of men in every way, we have neglected the people who most deserve our compassion and care: our children. No adult would chose to be in a dim, dingy room that smells of poopy diapers and Clorox wipes unless they were getting paid for it. And not many choose it, even then. Why would we shove our children into such an environment, and tell ourselves that somehow they’re better off because we’re reaching our potential? We are busy breaking glass ceilings at the expense of the next generation during the foundational years when they are the most vulnerable and maleable. We are doing incalculable damage to the next generation, treating them as though they are cattle. And ironically, most of us don’t even want our food treated that poorly. We want free-range chickens and grass-fed cattle, but penned up, junk-food fed, TV-entertained children.
We have got to step back and look at ourselves and the big picture. Children are not puppies to be herded off to the kennel. They are living souls who need spiritual and physical nourishment. Body and soul. Don’t you see the grandeur of it? Inside that little body that produces fodder for Dirty Jobs is a soul. An immortal soul. It’s a miracle. It is an honor and privilege to give my life that I might train up and shepherd these little souls. There is no career in the world that is equal to that. And given the choice, there is no child on earth who would choose to be brought up in a kennel.