Stories of extreme parenting techniques have gotten a lot of attention lately. First it was Yale law professor Amy Chua, the so-called Tiger Mother, who bragged in a recent book about depriving her daughters of all things social and calling one child “garbage” for being disrespectful.
Now, it’s the practice of “hot-saucing,” or washing a sassy kid’s mouth out with hot sauce, as a mother of six recently did—and was charged with child abuse.
I imagine some parents, upon hearing this news, might say they wish they had thought of hot sauce. Not I. Not because giving a young child hot sauce might be abusive, but because my child would have loved it.
My son bit into his first jalapeño pepper when he was just eight months old.
My husband and I were having dinner at the coffee table in our tiny first house, when our baby boy crawled over, pulled himself up to the table, grabbed a bit of raw jalapeño and popped it into his mouth. We freaked out. We got ready to call 911 while watching closely for a reaction. He shuddered for a few moments. Then he reached for another pepper, which of course, we grabbed before he ate it. No tears, no hives, no stomach effects, just a desire for more hot pepper.
Ever since, his fondness for all things spicy has only deepened. To this day, he goes into regular withdrawal living 100 miles rom the nearest Chipotle.
It never occurred to me to wash his mouth out with anything, let alone hot sauce. No, Dave’s Insanity triple-X habanero would be a reward. For my boy, punishment would be a mouthful of dark chocolate. No kidding.