Keep Yer Shirt On

Posted: July 11th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Husbandry, Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate | No Comments »

It’s nearly impossible to anticipate the associations Kate will make.

Some of them are smart and surprising. Like when I mentioned to Kate in our recent trip to RI that we’d see my cousin Nancy, Kate said, “Pretty dress!” When Kate had seen Nancy at Easter Nancy commented a few times on Kate’s special holiday dress. “Ah yes, mother, your cousin Nancy. The one who commended me on my fine taste in formal wear.”

When she was younger and I was getting her used to sleeping in her crib, I’d prime for going to bed by saying it was time for “night night.” In turn, she made the connection that “night night” meant nursing, since that’s what we did before she went to bed. And she still has that concept in her mind a year later. One of her books shows a mother dog nursing puppies, and another a pig mama feeding her piglets. Kate, whose vocabulary has mushroom-clouded and can easily describe what she sees in a book, still points to those pictures and say, “Pig night night!”

So several months ago when Dr. Robbins proclaimed Kate precocious, he recommended we get her a potty and offer her a chance to use it before she takes a bath at night. If she didn’t want to, no biggie. Just get the concept going. (I’ve since learned this is called “toilet teaching” versus “toilet training.” William Saffire take note.)

Since Kate would always be undressed for her bath at potty time, she determined that using the potty is something one does naked. And now that she’s developed an interest in using the potty at other times of day, I have to vehemently encourage her to not strip down entirely for a quick tinkle. She doesn’t trust me when I say this though. So I’ve had to use the potty myself while pointing out in a loud sing-songy now-learn-this tone, “See? When Mama uses the potty she keeps her clothes on! It’s how big girls do it!” (Suggesting “big girls” do things a certain way is generally the key to Kate’s instant and enthusiastic compliance.)

So today, as I’m pulling down my own pants and outlining the merits of keeping them around my thighs versus taking them off to tinkle–along with my shoes, socks, and shirt–I remembered that this scenario has actually already been played out on the show Seinfeld. There was an episode where George was caught buttoning up his shirt after leaving a restaurant restroom. Jerry and Elaine manage to get to the bottom of the disturbing fact that George takes his shirt off to poop.

I’m open to Kate developing into whatever person she turns out to be, but George Costanza?

A few years ago (pre-Kate) I got together for dinner with my friend Marian. She was all aglow with news to share. Surprisingly, the news was that her daughter Nola had “pooped in the potty” that morning. Mar was beaming with pride. You’d have thought she’d won a MacArthur Fellowship. Childless at the time, I immediately concluded she was mad and/or that all parents are.

But today I too am bursting with poopy pride. Mark came into our room after getting Kate up this morning to announce that she’d pooped in the potty. He gleefully relayed the news: “So she peed, then she said, ‘Poopoo?’, and I said, ‘Yes! Yes! You can poopoo in the potty! And then–she did! I mean, so then I looked in the potty and there was totally a little turd in there!”

I was proud like a Jewish Mom on her daughter’s wedding day. I nearly regretted that Mark had flushed the evidence. (Nearly.) I should have called Marian then and there to apologize for my earlier ignorance. How was I to know?

Once I concepted the scrapbook page that would mark this scatological milestone (okay, not really), Mark and I immediately launched into a small parental panic over the fact that Kate’s interest in potty training has surpassed our research on the matter (though by now, 8 hours later, Mark has probably read everything ever posted online in English on this subject).

Our shared anxiety: What if we’re already doing something wrong? What’s the proper way to continue to encourage this delightful potty-pooping behavior? What are the best books on this topic?

And, of course, does this mean that she’s really advanced?

At any rate, one thing is for sure. I have every intention of breaking her of the stigma of becoming a Shirtless Pooper. She may be short, a little pudgy around the middle, and even a little whiny at times, but George Costanza she is not.

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