Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Duct Tape Protocol.


It was probably two years ago when I started stocking duct tape in my parenting arsenal. Ever since I've recommended only two things to new parents wondering what essentials they'll need for child raising: duct tape and more of it.

I first used it to keep diapers on the twins because it became apparent that the only thing more alluring to two-year-old twins than a Dora marathon is painting the walls with each other's poo. Enter duct-tape reinforced diaper tabs.

Soon after that I used it to secure the door knob cover I kept on the inside of their bedroom door. They'd cracked it like an eggshell one too many times on midnight excursions out of bed.

Roo is on the threshold of duct tape timeouts, I swear to all that's holy. It's only a matter of time before I make him a duct tape straight jacket.

It has other uses, of course. Long after masking tape has been misplaced I've used its silver cousin to hang party decor. When Scotch tape has been scarce, duct tape has stepped in, strategically hidden, to bind Bee's homemade books. It has even saved broken toys from the trash bin after Roo has gone King Kong on them. I know a crafty girl who makes bracelets and hair bows with it.

Alabama chrome, poor man's putty, parent's partner. And now, wart remover.

Zippy has a little wart on her finger. I called the pediatrician to make sure there's no taboo against over-the-counter wart removing products.

Nurse: Sure, you can use those, but we use the Duct Tape Protocol.

Come again? Did she know I was asking about nixing a budlike skin virus from a finger? I wasn't asking for help patching a leaky pipe. She knew.

Indeed, turns out Dr. Dean "Rick" Focht III tried out duct tape on 26 willing warts piggy-backed on some humans aged 3--22, back in 2002, the Dark Ages of wart removal. They tried this instead of standard methods of the time, including leeching and exorcism. Winner, winner, chicken dinner, the duct tape sent 85% of those warts packing.

A later study published in the dermatology journal of the AMA says, roughly, "bull crap." These study docs seem to think duct tape is not a super hero at thwarting infectious disease. I believe the appropriate response to those docs is---in today's parlance---"whatevs."

So, on the authority of our pediatric office, who assures me some of the staff have had success on their own warts, we'll be playing the Duct Tape Protocol home game.

The fact is, I don't care if it fails, because I think the Duct Tape Protocol (DTP) a big deal. I think the DTP is more than a hard-to-believe medical procedure. I think it's a movement. It's a rallying cry of the desperate. It's a paradigm and a path to enlightenment united in one shiny roll of tape.

The DTP asks us, as parents and people-at-large, to think outside of the box and reach for what seems like it might work on the slim, miraculous chance that it will. It's the mom rocking a colicky baby at 3 AM who looks over at the dryer and thinks, yes, I will sit on that warm, vibrating box while I hold my screaming child because it just seems like the right thing to do.

DTP saves the father hunched over a poop-covered child in the wee hours only to realize the thing he forgot to pick up at the store that afternoon was a pack of diapers. He's the same guy who grins when he puts the finishing touches in his Bounty Paper Towel and plastic grocery bag diaper before whisking baby off to the 24-hour drug store for Huggies.

The Duct Tape Protocol is making it work when standard operating procedures no longer apply. The Duct Tape Protocol is chicken surprise sans chicken for dinner and pancakes made with Wheat Thin crumbs for breakfast. It's an emergency Halloween costume for Junior made from three towels, rubber boots, ten glow sticks, and---what else?---duct tape, that wins first prize at the block party costume contest. DTP is what happens between paychecks, between shopping trips, and between midnight and 4 AM.

There is something parents learn very early on---it really is about surviving. And the Duct Tape Protocol is how surviving gets done.

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PS: Google uses for duct tape and see what pops up.

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