No, this article will not be about Harry Potter Potty tales, although I am sure that the British have unearthed some dignified potty training method which includes a little time out for tea and back seasons of Miss Marple.
This is a personal potty tale. One of my own children. For the sake of ever having him talk to me again I am going to try hard to keep his identity unknown.
As a new mother and a physician, I approached potty training with clinical curiosity. After all it had been quite a while since I had been potty trained and there was much confusing advice in the literature. “Make them potty,” “Don’t force it” (I was secretly wondering what college was going to accept diapers which seemed the direction we were headed. What was a mother to do?
I threw Cherrios in the toilet. “Target practice,” I yelled after extracting an especially grown up formed doody from my child’s diapers. No luck. Those little oat 0’s became fishing fodder for suburban boys denied the chance to really fish. Well that had to end. I watched as my perfectly coiffed friend kept her child in the toilet and locked it, reminding him he could get out until he went. That seemed extreme, although my father had ben locking himself in the bathroom with the NYT for years, it didn’t seem to transfer well to smaller backsides who couldn’t even read.
I bought books for children on potty training. Peed on, every one. Finally my Hawaiian neighbor knocked on the door with a look so grave, I thought that something awful had happened. “Ellen,” she said nodding her head back and forth,” we need to get these boys potty trained or they won’t be accepted into kindergarten. Really? I hadn’t known that, that put a little vigor and energy into our plans. She swore to me that her great Auntie Kaholani used put all the kids outside in the yard naked and that allowed that to connect what was going on, well you know where, with the neurons in their heads which was currently kept busy with, shave ice, musubies and Thomas the Train Engine.
I had two reservations about this au naturel experiment. One was that we lived directly on a very expensive golf course where most of the golfers did not expect naked children trying to compete with them for their very own hole in one. My second reservation was I didn’t know Auntie Kaholani and didn’t know whether this intervention would end up with my boys becoming nudists.
What could I do? Cleaning adult sized human waste becomes not cute around three years old. And we really wanted to start kindergarden. The whole thing was pretty shitty.
I took my neighbor, some plastic bags and a bottle of Glade outside and off came the diapers. Oh the freedom of wind and the magic of being uncovered. Yes, we received menacing looks from the golfers, the this was Hawaii, aloha man! About fifteen minutes into the exercise one of my sons yelled in a horrified voice “There’s doody on my toe.”
And yes there was. A tablespoon brown mess sitting on his toe.
He was hysterical, but my first order of business was identiying the doody’s owner. This wasn’t easy as we had the neighbor, and two dogs. A quick and cursory investigation it became clear that it was his. Amazing to me that up until this minute this child had not recognized his that yes, he indeed was the owner of that brown smelly stuff.! He hopped around the yard in agony, while I tried to clean him up. Well after he calmed down that was it. He was potty trained. We ran out and bought him Thomas the Train underwear and he kept his sweet little caboose clean from then on.
Potty training may not be epic, but it is a form of freedom, so Happy Fourth of July!