Warning: The following blog contains questionable content. Reader discretion is advised.

 

In the entire era of toddlerhood, perhaps nothing is more challenging and important than the topic I am about to undress, I mean address. It is of course, potty-training. To master it, you must summon up some very precise skills.

 

To be specific, the act of potty-training requires your most effective sales technique. If you are not a salesman and have an antipathy for that type of coercion, I have one piece of advice for you, get over it! The rewards and freedom that come with potty training your child is incalculable. Less mess, less odor, a lighter day bag, an average daily savings of 23 minutes, bodily fluids in their proper place, and one less piece of furniture with the changing table being relegated to the garage next to the bassinet, crib, bouncer and mobiles.

 

TODDLER ENSEMBLE

 

But odds are this will not be a smooth transition. Let’s face farts, I mean facts. Why would any toddler want to be potty-trained? A diaper is a wonderful addition to any child’s ensemble.  It allows them the freedom to be on their merry way without pissing, err missing a beat. Oh, sure it might be uncomfortable for a bit, but the onus (read it again, I said onus!), not to mention the urine, inevitably falls on the parent changing the child.

 

This is where your best marketing and branding begins. You must convey to your child all the joys of the porcelain throne. Wax poetic about the enthralling books you’ve read on the toilet, the mysteries of the universe you’ve solved while in bathroom-seclusion, and the fascinating toys that await if they achieve this noble goal (you do not want to be above bribery on this one!).

 

THE SCOOP

 

But, here’s the straight poop, damn, scoop. This preselling could take months, hopefully not years! In my experience some toddlers will adopt to this new regime quicker than others. The presence of an older sibling to set the example is definitely a benefit and children’s books are available on this tricky topic. But there is no magic process and guaranteed method for success. For my boys it was a series of trial and ERROR, where the results of the error can be quite embarrassing/messy/complicated/ruinous.

 

The personality of your child should help guide your approach. My one tip would be don’t force it. If they are not ready, you need to shelve it for a few weeks and try again later. That’s it for now, I need to run and change a diaper. Do as I say not as I do!

After you are a parent for a few years you  realize you will never be able to adequately thank your parents for the things they have done for you in your life.  But I thought I would make one feeble attempt…

THANKS MOM & DAD

Thanks mom and dad for 2,190 baths

Thanks for a youth that went by much too fast

Thanks for 62,983 hugs and still counting

Thanks for the credit card bills that were forever mounting

Thanks for cleaning up things you’d rather not remember

Thanks for those long summer days when you didn’t shout. “When the hell is September?”

 

For a misspent youth that you did not question

And all the times you brought me out of my depression

Forever the questions rang down from one little guy

And you always answered them, even “Why?”

For being strong when we were weak

And trying not to let tears leak

 

At times I’m sure your confidence would waiver

But to me, you were always the savior

At times I’d try to play you off each other

Like “Go ask your father” “Go ask you mother”

And now I realize any game or deception

Probably hurt you from the moment of inception

 

Now I have my own little brood under my care

You must be smiling as if in answer to a prayer

The love for your grandchildren must be quite strong

And by now you realize my thank you list is quite long

To describe the dichotomy between parental work and love

Can’t be explained by the simple poem dictated above

 

It will be treasured in this bond we now share

Striving as parents to always be there

You taught me the skills of the trade without my knowing

Your example was invaluable, and it is still glowing

I may never live up to the precedent you set

But your love, compassion, and warmth are what guides me yet

 

WHAT DO WE SAY?

 

Nothing warms a parent’s heart more than the lilting refrain, “I want more milk!” or the ever popular “I’m cold!”  It seems to young children (and probably older children) that there is very little difference between the terms slave and parent.  And if you look at the definitions of the words, both involve being captive for a very long time, in one particular place, with very restricted mobility, and the tracking of your every move.

 

One of my major pet peeves though is when the boys begin to treat my wife and I like their handmaids, in a constant state of servitude, at the ready for their every beck-and-call (I’m fine being there for the beck, but it is the call where I draw the line).  When they are babies it is one thing, but as they get older and are capable of doing things for themselves, or at least are old enough to ask politely, I will not tolerate anything less.

 

PLEEEEEEAAAAAZZZZZZZZZZZ!

 

Periodically, my wife and I have to stand before the boys and introduce ourselves, “Boys, this is your mother, not your servant.  I am your father, also not your servant.  In fact, there are none in this house, never have been and never will be. We are all here to take care of each other and help one another.  Do you understand?  Are you listening?  Come back here…”  It doesn’t always work, but at least I try.

 

On more than one occasion my wife and I have refused to perform one of our many duties until a polite request is made, sometimes we even insist on it from the children.  It is not that I mind getting them a spoon…piece of paper…game…pencil…deck of cards…crayon…kleenex…remote…socket wrench, but they are perfectly capable of locating all these items on their own. 

 

 

Something is definitely lost in the translation, though, when you insist on the common courtesy terms.  “Did anyone say please to your Daddy?…Well, why don’t we now…come on…”  By the time they get it out, we have all forgotten what I did that warranted this heavily solicited gesture of respect.

 

REALITY 

 

I’m not sure you’re ready for this yet, but I am going to tell you the hardest thing about being a dad.  It is not waking up at 3am to comfort your child in the middle of the night.  It is not giving your feverish child a tepid bath while he pleads for you to stop, although that is pretty dreadful.  It is not even getting peed on in your new suit as you’re heading out the door for your annual meeting (maybe no one will notice).  It is coming in second in the standings after your wife on the daily popularity poll.  And you know what, it is usually a landslide! 

 

When you think about it rationally (which guys seldom do) that is only fair.  After all, your wife protected them in her womb for nine months, she painfully delivered them into this world, she probably nursed them for the first twelve months of their life while you stood by burping and making goo-goo eyes (next time say excuse me when you burp).  Granted those are both vitally important jobs, but they just do not get the same recognition as childbirth and nursing.

 

MORE BAD NEWS

           

So here’s the bad news.  You can show your children an unbelievable day, we’re talking, truly spectacular.  You can take them to the zoo, the park, the beach, all before breakfast, then to a double header at Camden Yards, off to McDonald’s for lunch, then on to a private tour of Disneyland enjoying all the rides without waiting in line, and back home on the Concorde before dinner.  Well, you get the idea.  You are the king of all you survey, and your sons have not stopped grinning since the moment he got out of bed.

           

Your wife comes home from running errands, and your kids leave you in the dust as they race to give her a hug and tell her how much they missed her.  They barely remember your name once she walks in the door and if you try to pick them up, they scream like you are a an extra from The Walking Dead!

 

THE WALKING DAD

 

Well, that is the bad news.  And there are days it will get to you more than others.  In a certain respect you must admire their taste, I mean, this is the woman you married and if they prefer her, then they just have the same good taste you do.

 

Your wife will try to console you with, “I get the same treatment myself sometimes.”  If you inquire when this happens to her, it always seems to occur when you are at work or in the shower or mowing the lawn (just kidding, I don’t mow the lawn).  Coincidence?  I think not.  This is just a simple ploy on their part to make you feel better.  There is probably an entire chapter devoted to it in one of those pre-baby books for women.

           

“Try on occasion to make your husband feel as if he is the most important person in the child’s life.  This will be of great assistance to you when he begins to become envious of the strong bond you will inevitably build with your child.  It’ll be our little secret.”  Well the gigs up ladies.  We know it is a lie and the kids like you better, so there!  Now, don’t you feel better?

 

NEW VIEWS

 

 

Certain things never occurred to me until I became a parent, or to put it another way, they never became apparent until I did.  Truisms, rules, things taken for granted all come into question when you have little ones that are dependent on you and expect to learn from you.  Like…

 

  • Why is “W” called Double-U. It would be much easier to teach your child to recognize this letter if it was called Double-V!
  • Related topic: “C” is the only letter that spelled out phonetically does not contain itself, “see”. This makes it very difficult, I propose we rename the letter “C” to “Cey” as in Ron the old baseball great.
  • If you have a boy you soon realize that most public stalls are too high, even the low ones. It should be law that every public restroom should have a least one urinal that goes to the floor.
  • Related topic: When your son flushes said public toilet, tell them to flush and run like hell because at their height the spray that comes off those public urinals will make it look like they did not make it to the bathroom on time.
  • The life of a toy is in direct disproportion to the amount of time it takes you to pick it out. If you research it, agonize over it, have trouble locating it, spend an extra forty bucks because it no longer is in circulation and has become a collector’s item, and think it is the perfect gift because it reminds you of something you always wanted as a child, its appeal will last a little longer than the box it came in.  If you buy it at a garage sale for a quarter, and balk at that because “they’ll never play with it!” it will be the one thing from their childhood they pack and take to their college dorm room.
  • A spider in the house is no longer an annoyance, it is now a threat to your child.
  • Ditto for mosquitoes.
  • Related topic: An ant in the house is no longer an insect, it could be a potential pet and you will be the bad guy for terminating it.
  • Mommy and Daddy’s bed is never off limits.   Never!
  • Related topic: There is no such thing as privacy for a parent.
  • Important related tip: Lock the bathroom door.
  • There’s more sand in your car than the playground.
  • No wall is soundproof.
  • Potty becomes a part of your daily lexicon…an important part.
  • Screaming is never appropriate, although sometimes you just “hafta”.
  • You start seriously pondering the age-old question, “I wonder what my favorite color really is?”
  • You tie someone else’s shoelaces at the gym before a workout.
  • You find a Gummi Bear in your work pants…and it has melted…onto the keys…that start your car…and you’re in a parking lot…where it’s raining…and you’re with a client.
  • There is a Batman figurine in your briefcase, but not the contract for your 2:30 meeting.
  • You know the name of every Pokemon, but you have forgotten some of your coworkers.
  • You start seriously wondering, “Who is my best friend?”
  • Your boss asks you how to spell eBay and you reply “little e, big B, little a…”
  • You end a heated discussion at work with “Because I’m the Daddy, that’s why!”
  • You rarely leave the house without dried spittle somewhere on your clothes.
  • The normal state for your body is exhaustion.
  • The normal state of your check book is red.
  • You find your memory isn’t…where was I?