In honor of this “throwback Thursday” thing, I am going to post an article I wrote over a year and a half ago (back when wee Red was learning to use the potty. It was a joyous time.)
So, I wrote this really cute little article called “Training Days” and when I finished it I thought, “And LO, it was GOOD. And I shall send it out to yonder literary magazines, and BEHOLD the Editors shall calleth and insist on a BOOK DEAL and there will be much rejoicing. And a paycheck.”
This is where the rejection part comes in.
No editor has ever, ever liked this piece. My rejections have run from “Please keep trying” to “Good luck with this writing thing, you naive, starry-eyed, navel gazer. I would consider a day job.”
So. Writing is a great career choice for sensitive souls like me. It’s like a daily kick in the shorts, paired with endless waiting and some really cutting edge attempts to decipher rejection letters on a deeply analytical level.* “When they said, ‘We enjoyed reading your submission’ does that mean they REALLY enjoyed it? Or just somewhat? And what DOES ‘we find your ideas to be compelling’? Just my IDEAS? I got LOTS of ideas! And compelling, like, Sophie’s Choice compelling? Or an episode of Cupcake Wars? WHAT DOES THAT MEAAAANNNNNNN?”
One might never know.
So, I’m putting this little story out to pasture. What I mean by that: it is one for the blog. Where I can publish any bit of mediocrity I want to! So THERE. (And also, it’s just possible I didn’t have a thing to post for today, so into the archives I dove. Sometimes it’s good to hoard things.)
A navy seal recruit goes through 30 months of brutal training before graduation and deployment. Only a few will make it to a graduation celebration.
Clearly, no Navy Seal has ever gone through an evolution of potty training.
When I embarked on the decision to potty train the Redhead (our second child) I had, I thought, an excellent battle plan. First, I recruited The Husband.
I start with a simple bombshell. “We need to talk.”
The Husband actually puts down his spoon, so it is clear I do have his attention.
“We are going to potty train the Redhead starting Monday at 0800.”
The Husband then smiles broadly and starts shoveling ice cream again. “Great! What can I do to help?”
I eye him sternly and try to look pained, strong and confident, and deeply concerned simultaneously. He licks his spoon and asks, “What’s wrong with your face?” The Husband is always like this. I try to inflict him with drama and chaos, and he grins and laps it all up as some grand adventure. He is, to my deep disappointment, a golden retriever. For all their unadulterated trust and good will, I find this breed deeply misguided, or at least a little blank. I’m much more accepting of some breed that shivers and leans on people a lot.
He doesn’t remember.
Potty training the Blond was over two years ago. I still shudder when I recall the massive amounts of bodily fluids that sweet child was able to strew all over our wood floors. It was like he just simply allowed himself to become one of the criminally insane. He created Rorschach tests. He discussed them with me. I considered an orange jumpsuit. For me, not for him. We did survive, but I was naive. Weak. This time, I would be ready.
Day one: No one got left behind. Lots of talk about potties and poopies and endless charts with stars. Toddlers are suckers for stars and stickers. If it’s adhesive, it’s a big deal. This is one of those unwritten bylaws in the Toddler Manifesto, along with If It Can Fit in My Nose, I’m Up for the Challenge, and What Is in My Bum Is Always Very Important to Discuss in the Wal-Mart Restroom.
Note: Wal-Mart restrooms have tiled walls. They echo.
Day two: 37 cups of coffee for me and numerous glasses of juice for the Redhead. I had to demonstrate using the potty numerous times before anyone else in the household seemed even the slightest bit inclined. Two small mouth-breathing toddlers crowd around me, and as I squint into the spotlight of their stares, I swear one of the boys has a clipboard and is taking notes and making a diagram. Then my dignity slowly curled up on its side and whimpered softly while I discussed wiping techniques. All in all, it was difficult to concentrate and there was a lot of pressure to perform.
Day three: Enthusiasm is waning. The Redhead is having a blast with all his stupid stickers, but Momsie has started questioning her joie de vive. I’m getting twitchy. Sometime in the night, I dream about Pampers, and when we wake I promptly tell my husband. He rolls over whispers sweetly with his doggy breath, “As long as you weren’t wearing them, dear.”
Note: It would be best to plan ahead and make that appointment with the marriage counselor about midweek in the potty training cycle.
Day four: I don’t want to talk about it.
Day five: I grimly wish that the Redhead would start to view the toilet as hidden contraband. I consider strewing it with chocolate and dollar bills, but I overwhelmed by what the plumber might say. Because, and I know this deep in my soul, there would be a plumber. Again, I am overwhelmed. And at this point, I could totally go for just feeling… whelmed.
Day six: See day four.
Note: Cease and desist ANY addition of raisins or grapes to any meal forthwith. And corn is from the devil.
Day seven: I greet my Redhead in the morning with a hug and a kiss and assess the situation. Morale is down. Rations are low. I could start drinking wine at 7:45 in the morning, but that would be another story. The Redhead pulls on his Thomas the Train underwear and then looks pensive for a moment. He tilts his head, looking sweetly just like a golden retriever puppy. And then he says, “Mommah? Potty?”
That night we feted our child’s wonderful accomplishment by going absolutely batty over his tiny white bottom perched on the potty. The small Blond lectured him on his delivery and dismount. Redhead just held on for dear life and grinned.
And then, we abandoned him. (We did wait for him to get off the potty first). We hired a gullible babysitter, got the heck out of our soggy house, and celebrated with a steak. I only had to cut it up for myself.