Have you ever seen that show Toddlers and Tiaras? I don’t watch it regularly, but I have been known to stumble across it when flipping channels and then get sucked in, staying to watch the spectacle. Basically, the show is about stage moms who are determined to make their daughters (and sometimes their sons) into beauty pageant queens – when they are just babies. Literally! Some of them start them on the beauty pageant circuit when the child cannot even walk yet! But the show mainly focuses on kids from about 3-6 years old or so.It’s a little horrifying to watch these mothers dress their daughters up like grown up prom queens, with fancy dresses, hair pieces, and lots and lots of makeup. They teach them choreography to sometimes inappropriately themed performances and then stand in the audience, performing along with over-exaggerated movements to make sure that their little beauty queen doesn’t miss a step. God forbid if her daughter doesn’t smile big enough or is not enthusiastic enough – because most of the time, mom is not shy about expressing her deep, deep disappointment. The mothers cheerfully tell the camera that their daughters LOVE dressing up and performing (and they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t) – and then the next shot shows the little one crying as her eyelashes are being crimped or the tangles in her bouffant are being pulled. Mom then resorts to either bribery, threatening, or shaming to get her daughter to toe the line and put on the performance of her life. These moms obviously are living vicariously through their daughters, counting every win as THEIR win.
I feel superior when I watch Toddlers and Tiaras – because it makes me feel like I was a really excellent mom in comparison, despite my many faults. It’s like watching Hoarders to get validation that I keep my house acceptably clean – or watching Doomsday Preppers and to be assured that my emergency preparedness is just sensible, and not over the top crazy. So, I’ll watch Toddlers and Tiaras and mention to my kids that they are lucky they didn’t have a pageant mom and that I NEVER would have exploited them for validation or personal gain…and then someone will mention the Diaper Derby.
Now here’s the thing – I don’t think the Diaper Derby can even be COMPARED to Toddlers in Tiaras – but let me tell you the story and then you can be the judge. When daughter #3 was about 9-months old, I noticed a sign at the local Albertsons supermarket where I did most of my grocery shopping. They were having sign ups for a “Diaper Derby” – basically, it was a race for babies who were still in the crawling stage and still wearing diapers. Now, I think it is pretty much a GIVEN, that your crawling baby is NOT going to be toilet trained – but perhaps there are a few pageant type moms out there that look for the signs and plop their babies on the toilet each and every time. The Diaper Derby was sponsored by Huggies – the diaper people – and first prize was a case of diapers, several packages of baby wipes, and a $100 gift card to Albertsons.
Daughter #3 had started crawling when she was about 6-7 months old, so she had a lot of practice and was pretty quick. She was always disappearing and getting into things the moment my back was turned. I figured it was either some sort of in-house wormhole or she was a really speedy crawler – so the race seemed like a no-brainer (and who doesn’t like free stuff?) I signed her up and on Derby Day, I dressed her in a onesie and leggings – because I wanted her to have maximum flexibility, unrestricted movement, and protection for her little knees. I also brought our secret weapon…her favorite binky!
Albertsons had turned one wide aisle into a race course about 25 feet long, with starting gate, finish line, and lanes marked out with masking tape. We were assigned a lane in the middle of the course and I gave my husband the task of taking the baby to the starting line and making sure she had a smooth start. My two other daughters came with me to the finish line, where they set up a perimeter for our cheering section. I then crouched down and called to my daughter, waving her binky enticingly to catch her eye. When she saw it, she immediately started squirming to get out of my husband’s arms (she LOVED that binky!) The official gave the “Ready, set…GO!” and babies were released!
Family members at the finish line began to call loudly to their little ones, while observers started to cheer. The noise, coming on so loudly and suddenly, was overwhelming to several of the babies, who promptly sat up and began to cry. A few other babies decided that the finish line was too far away, so they turned around and crawled back to their familiar face at the starting line. A few other parents had a similar strategy to mine and were waving toys and blankies in the air to encourage their babies – and those babies were making their way to the finish line at a pretty good pace. However, they were no match for MY baby, who wanted her binky and wanted it NOW! Her eyes were glued to her prize, a big grin was on her face, and her chubby arms and legs were almost a blur as she raced towards us.
If you want to get an idea of the setup and excitement, check this out – it’s similar. Except, of course, my daughter was a baby, not a wiener dog (although some of those dog owners do treat their dogs like babies).
Hmmm, now that I watch that again, it occurs to me that while the Diaper Derby may not have been like Toddlers in Tiaras, it was exactly like a wiener dog race — and I’m not sure that makes me mother of the year. However, I’ll live with that disappointment, because I’ll always have the memory of my Diaper Derby first place win to bask in…I mean, my DAUGHTER will always have that memory…because it was my DAUGHTER who actually won the race, not me. Except, she probably doesn’t have ANY memory of the race, because she was only 9-months old – but she REALLY loved racing in the Derby – I’m sure of it! Come to think of it, she was a beautiful toddler! I bet she would have really made a clean sweep at all the baby beauty pageants!