The no-diapers movement is reportedly gathering great force in New York, where a cadre of hipster moms in SoHo and Brooklyn are trying to save the environment and let their little ones go free.
I call it the "Go Mowgli" movement, after the little boy raised by wolves in Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book," since wolf moms don't change diapers either.
Sadly, Chicago moms aren't warming to the Go Mowgli idea — they're so provincial with their diapers and their old-fashioned notions of cleanliness — but I'm crossing my fingers, hoping New York leads the nation once again in another liberating and eco-friendly cultural trend.
America needs to be free. We need to Go Mowgli. First the babies, yes, but then the old folks can lose the Depends and go commando. And finally everybody, even middle-aged guys. We'll wear nothing but loincloths and go wherever, and really feel a kinship with the environment.
Thanks, New York, for helping us see the light.
According to an amazing story in the New York Times, local children are running free without diapers in the hopes that they may be toilet trained by 18 months. And their parents aren't burdened with the guilt of leaving a legacy of plastic diapers that just sit there for centuries, ruining the planet. Instead, they're leaving other legacies that New Yorkers can step in.
The tykes are encouraged to go where and when they feel like it: in the parks, on the floor, in the corner of the room in a bowl during a fancy dinner party, or dangled over the kitchen sink.
According to the article, one New York baby store "has been drawing capacity crowds to its diaper-free 'Meetups' where parents exchange tips like how to get a baby to urinate on the street between parked cars."
Between parked cars? It sounds to me like Wrigleyville, but without the Cubs games.
"That's just revolting," said the love of my life, clean freak, bleach lover and mother of our two teenagers. I'm ashamed to say Betty adamantly opposes the diaperless Go Mowgli ethos.
"If I ever see an infant child dangled over a kitchen sink, or allowed to use the floor, I would never visit that home again," she said curtly. "Ever."
Honey, I know it might be awkward. After all, what do you say after a child releases in the sink? Do you say, "Oh, isn't that nice? What's for dessert? Fruit and cheese?"
"You're fishing for quotes," she said, Sicilian eyes flashing, wise to my ways. "You got your quote for your column. Happy now?"
No, I'm not happy. I'm sad.
Because I'm living in Negativity Town.
Unlike New York moms, my wife and other completely unhip Midwestern women think diapers are necessary for toddlers. But if the kids can't Go Mowgli, then the rest of us can't do it either.
Chicago women may see the diaperless scampering and the going-in-the-corner-of-the-dining-room-during-a-dinner-party as another sign of the apocalypse.
But New Yorkers are sophisticated. They're trendsetters. They're leaders. And they say that this "elimination communication" helps the child control the natural urges. I'm told this has been going on in China for centuries, although maybe that's because China didn't invent Pampers.
"I never did learn to change my own kids' diapers without gagging," wrote Elizabeth F. on Facebook when I posed the issue to readers. "Please don't help to get this custom spread about — and between cars? How do you get into your car?"
"They are weaned off diapers because they will just pee wherever they damn please — not necessarily in private," writes Mary Z. in an angry, mocking tone. "So the next time you see someone in Wrigleyville or by the Cell stumbling away from a bar after a ball game and they go on someone's lawn, you can say it's OK 'cause they learned through 'elimination communication' and it's not an evil concept. Moutza on these crazy parents."
Some moms complained that if the trend continues, dogs will be on par with kids, although I thought that debate was finally settled a few years ago.
"Born Free," wrote Christine C. in snarky fashion.
"Let me know if you do this at home so I can stay far away," said Deb R.
"That's what they do in countries that don't have clean water and 1 in 5 kids die of preventable disease before age 5," cried Peggy L.
"I will not eat at anyone's house where they let the kids use the sink as a toilet," wrote Susan R. "Ick! And going behind parked cars and in the park?"
It's obvious that Chicago moms can't see the possibilities:
Husbands will no longer have to pull 50-pound plastic-wrapped monstrosities out of the "Diaper Genie," perhaps the most horrible contraption ever invented. And moms won't waste money on the famous Pee-pee Teepee, which allegedly protects them from catastrophe while changing the diapers of boys.
So I called my old legman, Shooter, the famed dice player who once helped me with the column. Loyal readers may remember that Shooter gave birth to a beautiful little boy, and she is now expecting another child.
Alas, she loathes the Go Mowgli idea because of a social side effect:
"Parental Superiority Syndrome: Symptoms include mindlessly repeating 'my little genius Bobby tells me when he has to go, your kid is dumb' or 'I save the planet, you must hate the planet because you use diapers,'" wrote Shooter, rather defensively.
Someday, perhaps not tomorrow, but someday, Midwestern women may drop their provincial dependence on diapers, toss them aside and let their children run free.
Thanks for trying, New York. Don't give up on us. Please.