June 2018

The Dad Life: Potty talk

Author: Justin Jarrett

One of the major points of parenting is marking all the milestones. The first steps. The first tooth. The first word. I’m counting down the days until the last wipe.
Anywhere from two to five times per day, I hear the dreaded shout of desperation from one of our two bathrooms.

“Daddy!,” our four-year-old princess yells. “I’m done pooping!”

This is not simply a status update, it is a call to action. I was never the starting quarterback or the ace pitcher, but I’ve finally made first-string as the lead butt-wiper in our household. It’s really quite an honor.

Before we go any further, let me go ahead and apologize for the subject matter of this month’s column. I realize there might be a handful of my readers who are not parents of young children and therefore have not been desensitized to potty talk. For those of us who live with these tiny, filthy-minded beasts, though, it seems to dominate conversation.

Sometimes it’s the push-and-pull (no pun intended, I promise) of trying to get them to go before leaving the house in order to avoid an accident.

“You need to go potty and get dressed.”
“I don’t want to go potty.”
“Okay, then get dressed.”
“But I need to go potty. Really bad.”
“Okay, then go potty.”
“I don’t want to. I can go potty at school. I have a school full of potties.”
“I thought you had to go really bad.”
“I do. I’m about to pee my pants.”
“Then you need to go potty.”
“I don’t want to.”

They never want to go when you need them to, but always when it’s least convenient. I’m beginning to think our daughter has made it her life’s mission to visit the restroom in every restaurant in America, and she has checked off a lot of boxes already. She has an affinity for public restrooms, and the filthier the better. She once had to go three times during a 45-minute youth baseball game, because county park potties are the coolest.

Other times it’s just straight up gratuitous talk about bodily functions, often complete with sound effects. For the uninitiated, it’s just as appealing as it sounds.

But the talk is preferable to the experience of dealing with the real thing, which goes to another level when it comes out of someone else, and becoming a parent is a minimum five-year sentence of handling someone else’s bodily fluids.

It starts with the life-changing meconium, which no one tells you about until you’re dazed and confused in the hospital and open up that first messy diaper. You can’t unsee that thick, green goo. It looks like something out of a sci-fi flick.

Then it’s the joy of changing a dozen or more messy diapers per day, at least until you can send the baby to daycare to outsource some of the dirty work. That alone is worth the price of tuition.

The job really stinks once they start on solid food, so much so that the standard Diaper Genie is powerless against its might. It creates a real conundrum during the Lowcountry summer, when you clearly cannot keep the dirty diapers in the house, but the heat can turn the garbage bin in the garage into a nuclear waste area.

The growing stench makes potty training imperative, if only for the power of the flush, but that can be a messy time marked by gag-worthy accident cleanups. Sometimes you just have to treat toddler underwear as disposable.

The post-potty training years are easy by comparison, but there comes a day when you hit the wall on wiping, and I’m this close to being there.

We could, of course, let her do it herself, but I’m not a big fan of scrubbing skid marks out of Disney princess panties, and there’s also the problem of what happens when you walk around with a crusty crack all day.

“My butt hurts,” she told me one day.
“Did you poop at school today?”
“Yes.”
“Did you wipe?”
“Yes.”
“Did you do a good job?”
“No.”
So, we…well, mostly I continue to do it for her.
But after seven years of poop duty spanning two kids, my days are numbered. I’ve already informed the princess that I’m hanging up my Kandoo wipes on her fifth birthday (which is July 1, if you’re curious), and she’ll be on her own.

Ever the crafty one, she countered that she would just go at school and have her teachers do the dirty work. I assured her kindergarten teachers don’t wipe butts. (You’re welcome, kindergarten teachers.)

Not all potty talk is bad, though. Sometimes it makes you beam with pride.
“Daddy, come look at this!,” she yelled the other day. “You have to see how big my poop is! It’s the size of my arm!”

She wanted me to take a picture. Put that milestone in your baby book.

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