Thursday, July 24, 2008

Potty talk

With the relative success of the recent adventures in potty training, there's been a lot of focus lately on the toilet, going to the bathroom, underwear and the like. Dear Alex has lately taken great delight in one story in particular, which has become a staple at bedtime, or actually anytime Dear Alex wants to talk about it: "Tell me about the loud loud potty." Now, I wasn't an eyewitness, Beautiful Wife had that particular joy, but it goes something like this:
"Alex had to go to the bathroom, and the secret quiet potty* was out of order. Brave Alex went to the loud potty with mommy and tried to go. A lady in the next stall got up, and the toilet flushed because it was an automatic toilet. Dear Alex got scared and jumped up and her toilet flushed, which scared Alex even more, because it was an automatic toilet too. But mommy was there to hold her and it was okay, and Dear Alex was so brave that we went to the restaurant and Alex got to have a special treat - She got Dibs!**"
For what it's worth, I'm paraphrasing this just a little bit, because as the story gets told and retold, new details emerge and it gets styled differently. The point here is really that there are things that stick in her mind to the point of mild obsession, which we talk out and talk about until she decides it's time to move on. I am sort of fascinated by this story, it's vividness and her passion for it. ( not to mention the humor in the compound-flush startle reaction) It had occurred to me earlier in the process of potty training that aside from her natural gifts, Dear Alex did have an odd fear of public toilets, those that she was not familiar with.
When she was still a real baby I had the happy occasion to change her many times in some less than nice bathrooms in stores and restaurants, and all went pretty well. That all changed one day when we happened to be at a Target store in Middletown, NY, which for some reason had the loudest automatic toilets (they flushed with a bang and a roar) and the bathroom also featured the loudest hand-dryers (you know, slap the button, hot air comes out) that sounded a little like jets spooling up for takeoff. Once again, I wasn't in the bathroom that time, (thank you, BW) but I heard her screaming from across the store. It kind of spooked her, and me too.
There are things that you do for your kid to protect them, to keep them safe and happy. That stuff is important. Then there are things that you can't really do anything about, and that really aren't that important - Dear Alex's fear of the occasional loud potty or dryer in a public bathroom (while certainly understandable) is something that she's really going to have to get over. I'm thinking about starting a campaign to take her to every public restroom, everywhere we go, hoping to desensitize her to what's really out there in the real world. In the meantime, the girl has definitely learned to hold it and pretty much refuses to go anyplace that's not home. She's still talking about the loud loud potty, and I'm all for it - we'll work this out together and move on to her next fascination.

*At the public beach near our house on the lake there's a clubhouse - it has a few bathroom options. The quiet, secret bathroom was closed, so they had to go to the "Ladies" - which, like the "Mens" is equipped with those toilets that flush automatically, if you so much as twitch in front of them. Startling, sometimes, even if you expect it.

** Crispy crunchy chocolate-coated ice cream treat, the Dear Alex suddenly loves. I'm half convinced that her joy in the retelling of this story is that it always ends with her getting the afore-mentioned treat.

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