Tonawanda News

January 14, 2013

Reflections on potty-training from a parent

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I only vaguely recall my own potty-training experience, but I in no way remember so much pleasure being taken in doing my business.

Penny and Rigby are in the final stretch of the assisted potty phase of their lives. Both are largely independent in the bathroom at this point, but certain finishing touches require a bit of parental care.

And they are quite good at roping me into accompanying them while they answer nature’s call. I’m not sure if I am a form of support, a pair of helping hands or a straight man to their comedic routines. But their bathroom antics are far from routine.

What unfortunately did become routine for a while was a call to the plumber. Rigby was apparently trying to hone his geometry skills by figuring out which toys were just the right size to fit down the toilet pipes. He forgot to carry the one, though, because anything he flushed would get stuck in the piping in the basement. For the $300 spent the last time a plumber came, a good math tutor could have instead been summoned.

Or maybe they just needed to do a bit more wiggling. That could explain why, when Rigby called me in during one recent trip to the potty, he was sitting on the toilet, pants down, doing the “Gangham Style” dance. I couldn’t help but break into hysterics, especially when he slid partway in while doing that little horse-riding maneuver. What else could I do? I picked him up and then started doing it with him.

I laugh a little bit less when he determines the roll of toilet of paper needs to walk the plank. Actually, I hate pretty much anytime he tosses anything in the toilet. There are some environments in which fishing simply doesn’t work, and that would be near the top of the list.

Near the top of Penny’s list is engaging in long talks while taking care of business. I don’t mind talking to her, but these conversations seem to distract her from the task at hand — which suits her just fine. She’d just as soon spend a half-hour in there. But not me (at least when speaking about how long SHE should spend in there). Bathroom time should be in and out. Plus, she’s near the age where it’s just a little ... weird ... to be in there for any longer than need be.

Their whole fascination with the bathroom is a little weird, really. Bathrooms are usually tiny, a bit stinky and just not inviting as a long-term hangout. Yet they’d almost rather play there than in their bedroom, their play room — you know, the rooms that contain toys, carpets and stuff.

But no. Instead, Rigby would rather fill the sink with soapy water and pretend to drown the Lizard, the Joker and his other bad guy figurines.

Penny would rather sit there for 20 minutes playing a game on her little electronic device ... well, I’ve done that before, actually. But still.

Rigby would rather grab his little pirate bath toys and stage the seizing of a 17th century port town, dropping bombs on the poor settlers instead of the bombs he went onto the toilet to deposit.

Part of it is on me, as dad. If I want them to behave a certain way, I need to steer them in that direction, put my foot down and get ‘er done.

That’s not as easy as it sounds, though. The kids go in there for a reason, after all, and I need to allot time enough until they are relieved of their duties. Without looking (never a fun task), you just can’t be sure the mission has been accomplished. And I know enough to know it’s not always one-and-done in there.

I am getting better, though, at cutting out the nonsense. But there’s still a ways to go.

When will toilet time stop making such a splash with my kids? I’m not sure. But until then, it will continue to provide a flush of fun, I fear.

Contact Paul Lane at