What The Potty Training Books Forgot

“Mom! Come wipe mah buht!” I hear that phrase and have approximately 2.5 seconds to drop whatever I am doing and dash to whatever toilet my child has precariously hoisted herself upon before I regret my decision to have ever fed her. Ever.  Dealing with another person’s excrement smells a little like broken dreams, and it only takes one infant diaper blowout before you totally understand that Talking Heads song.

Since most parenting experts don’t consider either starving your child or sending them to college in adult diapers an option, and because I saw some video where an industrious cat owner had taken a cue from Meet the Parents and potty trained their pet, I figured surely I could potty train my child without incident. If a cat could do it and my child couldn’t we had more serious problems to contend with.

However, while waging the potty battle I developed an incessant case of pink eye. No sooner would I consider it eradicated than I would wake up with my lashes glued together, eyeball sore and bloodshot. I would wake in the morning admonishing my eye’s weakness, thinking, What the hell? I wash the crap out out of my hands after getting in with the dirty. I was convinced the only explanation was someone farting on my pillow.

One morning, after my third bout of the stink eye had struck, I wore my glasses to give my poor eye a break before it developed gangrene, or I needed a life-saving, eyeball-replacement surgery. Having ditched my contacts during the infection, I left my case open on the counter and went about my day like a superhero, saving the house from poop stuffs and nourishing my children.

Later, while I was taking my frustrations out on well-meaning people online, Boogie interrupted me, telling me about some picture she had drawn of a mermaid with such excitement you’d think she had discovered cubism. The picture looked like something you don’t need opposable thumbs to create, but as she waved her sinewy limbs and fingers around, coated in bright green marker to the elbows, I listened and threw in words of encouragement when she took the occasional breath.

As I washed the green streaks from her butt later that night, it became clear that those little fingers had found there way to her butt in my absence. We had an honest discussion about how, while everybody poops, playing with your butt isn’t considered okay in certain circles, and how maybe she and markers needed to see other people for a little while.

When the children finally passed out like fraternity pledges during rush week, I dragged myself to the bathroom. (If anyone ever tells you they have done the hardest thing in their life, ask them if they mean potty training and breastfeeding at the same time. Chances are they will say yes, or get pissed that you’ve downplayed their accomplishment.) Too tired to do anything but feign brushing my teeth, I looked down saw  little pools of bright green caught in the bottom on my contact case. And like a montage, the scary one from Memento not the awesome training one in Rocky, the reality hit me. Far worse than farting on my pillow, my potty training child was pretending to put in contacts after playing with her butt.

See, the potty training books forget to tell you that while your child is learning the wonder of ridding themselves of waste like everyone else in the civilized world, they also develop a fascination with their butts. Clearly, while my child hadn’t developed enough intuition to know she was moments from peeing all over my rug or that playing with your own butt isn’t socially unacceptable, she had known enough to keep her fingers out of her own damn eyes after all was said and done, but my eyes were fair game. When I think back on it I still have to fight the urge to go fart on her pillow.

Your ever faithful Poop Slayer,

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