From the very beginning, friends, family, and readers thought my ideas were a little whack.
“Most expectant moms register for breast pumps, strollers, and adorable outfits. You’re picking out the right steam-cleaning vacuum.”
“Everything in the house is organic and now our grocery bill has officially surpassed the mortgage payment.”
“My grandson will never know the pleasure of eating milk-fed veal?”
“In some circles, it’s considered child abuse never to take your kid to a rodeo, circus or NASCAR event.”
For the most part, I am okay with my ideas and irrational fear of the corn-dog crowd.
Here’s some more oversharing: I have always hated poop.
My mother told me I started complaining about stinky diapers when I was six months old. Before my first birthday, I’d had enough of sitting in my own filth. That’s right. I was about 11 months old when I got undressed, grabbed a newspaper, climbed up on that porcelain throne, and became a “big girl.”
Fast forward thirty years and my twin sons were born. Double the pleasure, double the stink. Thankfully, for the first year or so, I was able to change diapers without feeling anxiety or the urge to vomit.
Then they discovered cheese.
When one of those hard, brown nuggets first fell out of their diapers on my nice, clean floor, you’d have thought a serial killer just fought his way into my house and came after me with a meat cleaver. I screamed like one of those zombies in Walking Dead.
My neighbors still talk about their 911 calls that night with a hint of exasperation and humor.
Then there was bath time, a few weeks later, when one of my little princes strained, grunted, and added a new toy to the tub. I reacted as if he had just asked to watch Fox News. I immediately yelled GET OUT and disinfected everything.
Later that night, after the boys fell asleep and I had a cocktail or three, I explained the episode to my mother.
“Katie, relax,” she said. “It’s just poop.”
I took a deep breath.
“You know how you feel about the F word?” I asked.
“Using that word is rude and improper behavior. It should only occur on the toilet with the shower running so no one can hear,” she said.
“That’s exactly how I feel about bowel movements.”
Why is it that kids take a while to get the concept that urinating, pooping, even vomiting, are bathroom activities that should only happen on or in the potty? For the first year or two, they seem completely comfortable depositing whatever is inside them wherever they are.
This is why I believe the first thing every parent needs is a steam cleaner. Just accept the fact that little kids are a shitting, puking mess and when you’ve put them back to bed with hugs and kisses, thrown their soiled clothes into the washing machine and screamed at your husband about the importance of a vasectomy, grab the steam cleaner and get to work.
Getting frustrated only makes it worse and then those little runts smell a power-grabbing opportunity. You’ll never get them on the potty if they think it’ll pay you back for all those times you said “no.”
Somehow, I managed to keep my disgust under wraps, and my boys were taught to use the potty in a fairly normal way.
First I asked around about all the different ways to do it.
My friend Joanne, whose parents are from Italy, suggested I let them run around the yard all summer without diapers. Eventually kids are supposed to learn the entire routine through trial and error and the parents get free fertilizer. Everyone wins.
Apparently Joanne has never been in Florida during August. I’d have two burned babies and a yard full of bugs. No thanks.
Several playgroup colleagues created charts with stars and stickers and smiley faces. They gave toys and held public parades when the potty was utilized successfully.
That seemed a bit loud for me. I like celebrations low-key and on the rocks.
Another gal suggested I throw Cheerios in the toilet so they’d have fun aiming. When Zachary reached in for a mid-morning snack, I almost had a full-blown panic attack. There went that idea.
In the end, I decided I didn’t care when they got potty-trained.
That’s right. I didn’t care.
I was teaching at the time and none of my high school students wore diapers, so I figured, at some point, it’d work itself out. I made it very clear to everyone that it was no big deal.
That seemed to work.
When they were interested in using the potty, they did. And when they shit in their diapers, we changed them without so much as a grimace.
Jacob and Zachary started preschool when they were two and a half years old. Within weeks, they wanted “big boy” underwear like their friends.
We never looked back.
Turns out, my mom was right. It is just poop after all. Our kids decide to do it when they are good and ready.
Mastering the art of vomiting in the toilet is another story.
See? That steam cleaner wasn’t such a bad idea after all.