There are certain mileposts in a child’s life that mark a transition from one developmental stage to another. Just when they are reached is often a point of pride with parents.
Many know where pride goeth. I certainly lost mine when it came to toilet training twins. When they were two I started the training, using the usual bribes of food, stickers, stamps, praise, threats – nothing worked. Two in diapers is bad enough, but when six months later their baby sister arrived, three was just two too many.
At age three the lads had reached a stage in their life where they had adopted a philosophical stance: if I didn’t get mad at their sister, then why did I get mad at them when they used a diaper?
It all came to a head one sunny summer day. I plunked Otis down on the pot and growled through gritted teeth, “You don’t get off till you put something in.” His response was to put his little nose in the air, saying, “I will nevah, nevah use the potty.”
I looked into those baby blue eyes and it was then I admitted defeat. I would nevah, nevah be out of diapers. They’d be climbing on the old yellow school bus with a sandwich and a diaper in their backpacks, and the school nurse would be calling me in for counseling.
Admitting defeat gave me an unexpected sense of clarity. What if, I reasoned, I just didn’t put diapers on them? It was summer time. Who was going to see them in the back yard anyway? With a sudden lift of the heart, I hoisted Otis off the toilet, pulled off his shorts and said, “Off you go then.”
He looked at me blankly. Where was the rest of the outfit? I explained that from now on, he didn’t have to wear anything except the shirt, and by the way, call his brother Sam because the same went for him.
The two of them reveled in their newfound freedom. They leaped around the yard and rolled in the grass like a couple of puppies. Their older siblings were a bit baffled, but had long given up trying to understand a mother’s mind. Right. Now we can go naked. Mom’s off her rocker again.
As a matter of fact I was happily rocking in my rocker when Sam showed up and said he had to pee. I told him to use the bushes. With a shocked look he ran back out to advise his brother of the new plan. This brought them both back in, hands on hips.
“Well I hafta go poo!” Otis fired at me.
I smiled kindly and told him to use the bushes.
“I can’t use the bushes! They’re prickly. Gimme back my diaper.”
I shook my head sadly. “Well, you’ve got no pants, and no diaper any more. It is either the bushes, or the potty.”
Sometimes desperation can be the mother of invention. And desperate mothers are nothing if not inventive.
They nevah used a diaper again.