Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I've Got To Go Potty...Now!

Kids say a lot of things. (Sometimes they even say the darndest things.) A lot of what they say is nonsense. They'll say things like "What if my school was made of chocolate?" Or they'll go on and on about the latest episode of Dora. Or they'll tell you why their imaginary friend is afraid of spiders. Sometimes it's easy to ignore what they are saying.

But, there is one thing they say that you simply can't ignore: "I've got to go potty...Now!"

If you have ever attempted to potty train a kid, you know this is the Phrase of Power. It doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing, when you hear your kid say, "I've got to go potty...Now!" you immediately drop everything and race them to the nearest restroom. You could be in the middle of an important conversation with your boss, you could be watching the game and it's fourth and one with 23 seconds left, you could be in the middle of performing open heart surgery. It doesn't matter. You will drop what you are doing and get that kid to the nearest toilet!

One time, because our daughter uttered the Phrase of Power, we pulled off the freeway in a disreputable part of Las Vegas, searching for the nearest potty. Convenience store potties in Vegas are not fun. (I'm sure there are parts of Las Vegas that aren't disreputable. I just haven't seen them.)

It's amazing how fast an adult can move when they hear "I've got to go potty...Now!" I'm not a very quick person (if you don't believe me, just ask the guys I play basketball with.) In fact, I'm so slow I earned the nickname of "Slow Joe." However, when we were potty training, if my kid uttered the Phrase of Power I could get him from the living room to the toilet in 2.4 seconds.

If I had a dollar for every time I've asked, "Where do we pee and poop, in our pants or in the potty?" I could probably retire to some tropical island. 

One of the problems with power, though, is that people tend to misuse it. Kids are smart. After they've seen you drop everything a few times, they begin to realize the power of the Phrase of Power. They'll start saying "I've got to go potty...Now!" to get out of things they don't want to do, or just to make you jump.

Once, during the height of potty training, The Boy used the Phrase of Power four times during a one hour church meeting. And you know, because he was at the most crucial stage of potty training, it didn't matter. I would have taken him out of church ten times to go potty if it meant there would be no pee or poop in his pants and we could finally bring that potty train into the station.

It wasn't just church, though. Whenever we went to any new store or restaurant, The Boy would use the Phrase of Power because he seemingly was on a quest to visit every restroom in North America, just to see what they looked like.

Eventually, as they get more and more potty trained, the Phrase of Power loses some of its power. After he was mostly potty trained, whenever he said, "I've got to go potty…Now!" we would weigh the circumstances: how long ago was his last potty break; does it look like he's trying to get out of something; is he just wanting to see what this new restroom looks like, etc. And sometimes we would say, "No, you have to wait." Of course, this is based on a case by case judgement. And, before you know it, you can say "No" almost every time.

Unfortunately, the kid still has one card left to play. The Poop Card. The conversation will go something like this:

KID: "I've got to go potty…Now!"
PARENT: "No, you just went 10 minutes ago. You can hold it."
KID: "I've got to go potty…Now! [slight pause] Poop!"
PARENT: [Knows he's been beaten.] "Fine, let's go."

The Poop Card trumps almost everything. You might take your chances with a kid peeing his pants, but no one, and I mean NO ONE wants to have to deal with a kid who is no longer in diapers and has pooped their pants at church, at the Walmart, or at Arby's.

It's practically impossible to ignore "I've got to poop…Now!" especially if the kid accompanies the words with the grimacing "I'm doing all I can to hold back this poop, but it still might come out at any moment" face. At that point you know the kid isn't faking, or they're a great actor, but either way you have to race the kid to the nearest bathroom and hope to high heaven they can make it.

As bad as the Poop Card is, though, there is still one thing that is worse: actual poop. Because that conversation ends up being:

KID: "Dad, I just pooped in my pants."
PARENT: "Honey, where's the hose?"

(And then you have to decide if the pants are worth cleaning and saving, or if you're better off just throwing them away.)

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