I may have mentioned before that we are having a bit of trouble potty training Benjamin. For one glorious week last summer, I was certain we had the process well underway, as the child was conducting both forms of business in the proper location. I gave the prizes I had bought and stored in the closet, hoping to encourage such behavior. And then, he just stopped. Pee? Yeah, he’d do it whenever we brought him in. But the other part? No dice.
That was eleven months ago. Ever since then, a lone Nerf football has gathered dust in my closet, waiting to be presented as a prize for pooping on the toilet. For a total of twelve months, we have been faithfully taking that child to the bathroom, encouraging him to pee, and waiting for his tail end to catch up with the program.
We have gotten all forms of helpful advice from people who clearly didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. My favorite was “Back off a little. He’s still young. You’re putting on too much pressure.” Oh, thank GOD you suggested that. Because we hadn’t considered that option. (Mutters something under her breath about idiots and the months during which we said nothing to Benjamin about pooping on the potty.)
What no one thought to tell us was that if we let him go around in his birthday suit, he would not poop on the floor, even though he had no trouble letting go in underpants. Really? No one could mention that helpful little tidbit? Y’all had to wait for us to figure it out ourselves?
One evening, J said to me, “You know, every time he feels he has to poop when he’s n@ked, he gets really freaked out and runs into the bathroom. Maybe we should let him go n@ked for awhile.”
“For awhile” turned out to be something nigh on a month. He rarely pooped at school, so we sent him in underpants, which usually came home dry and clean. But, in the house, he was nekkid as the day he was born. Two cheeks to the wind. Goin’ commando.
It got to the point where I was just done with seeing p-nises. Everyday, no matter where I looked, there seemed to be little boy parts: sitting to do a puzzle, watching his evening TV, eating dinner. I never realized that half the reason people wear clothing is that nudity is so freaking dull.
Yes, he seemed to become much more aware of his… um… urges, but all I wanted was to cover that junk up. And, he still wasn’t using the fucking toilet to poop. He got better and better at peeing, but he would wait till nap or bedtime to do his other business. Eventually, he did sometimes ask us for a pull-up when he had the urge, but we could not rely on it enough to return him to the tribe of People Who Wear Clothing.
There were a few side-effects to the Great Nudity Campaign because it provided much greater awareness not only of his urine but of the tool for urine elimination. Suddenly, he spent pretty much all the time with one hand on the family jewels. Giraffie blankie in his mouth, one hand for whatever activity he was engaged in, and one hand permanently fiddling. In addition, he and his brother started designing new games entitled, originally, “P-nis.” Mostly, it consisted on pretending some large object was their new organ of manliness and comparing sizes.
To me, as a woman, the p-nis is just not that interesting, beyond its obvious uses. I had absolutely no idea that males are endlessly fascinated by that thing. I bet if you asked most men to pick one item to bring to a desert island, they would respond, “Why would I need anything else? I’ve got all I need right here.”
But, then, on Friday evening, my husband sat with Benjamin as he read his toy catalogs on the toilet. And sat. And sat. The kid wanted so badly, so very, very badly, to poop. And his patient, patient father sat there, encouraging and talking through the procedure. And a tiny little bit of poop came out.
That damned Nerf football could finally come out of the closet.
The first thing out of the child’s mouth upon seeing the picture on the wrapping was, “I need a hat for football.” Whereupon we promised him that, should he continue the miracle, we would gladly get him a Redskins helmet. Hell, we would have bought the entire team if he’d asked for it at this point.
Saturday morning, I stopped at our neighbor’s yard sale, hoping to find a few extra prizes to have on hand. “No princesses?” I asked as I rummaged through a box of dolls, since Benjamin has a bit of a princess fetish. I bought a few puzzles and was walking away when one of the daughters ran over and pushed a bag of plastic princess figures into my hands.
It’s a damned good thing she did, because not two hours later, I found myself sitting in the bathroom with my son for 40 minutes as he read his catalogs and periodically shouted, “The poopy’s coming!” When it finally arrived, I was able to pull Cinderella out of my back pocket and present her to my very proud child.
I looked for Father’s Day cards for my husband but walked away empty-handed. They just didn’t have one that read, “Happy Father’s Day to the dad who notices that nudity helps potty training, earnestly coaches his son through a paralyzing fear of pooping on the toilet, and then rewards him with a football, a helmet, and a Cinderella doll, all prior to spending Father’s Day afternoon in urgent care getting the same child’s head glued back together after an unrelated run-in with the corner of a desk.”
I think I should write for Hallmark.