Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Riding Carousels in the Garden

Don't know about you, but everywhere I turn, someone is either having or has just had a baby. It's an outbreak worthy of a public health alert, an echo boom of sonic proportions.

Perhaps it's just spring fever or the pastel chick and bunny themes or the Cadbury cream eggs lying in wait at the grocery check out stand that makes me think of babies. No, it's Easter and that means babies.

To name a few recent instances of fertility run amok, consider this: My Grandniece Adi was born in December and I was privileged to attend the birth. Ellen at work is sporting a darling baby bump and is due in a couple of months. My friend the Lovely Vixen, advice columnist Catherine Gacad, is due in a few weeks. Very exciting.

And, my friend, the travel writer Amy Gigi Alexander has just returned from an amazing trip to Morocco to resume her job as a nanny. She's working on potty training with her young charge and preparing for the birth of the family's next child in August, which eventually means more potty training.

Adi's first Easter bunny photo
So you get why I feel surrounded with discussions about this most delicate of human endeavors -- peeing in the pot. I've been credited with being a potty training expert, but it's not true. 

Once this tale of my legendary skills took root, however, it has become impossible to dispel. Women come to me wringing their hands, imploring me for answers. I insist I'm no guru on shaping toddler toilet habits. Not at all. But, in their anxious state, they never believe I don't know the magic tricks.

Tales of my unusual expertise began to spread after an adventure with my niece 25 years ago. She was a bit late coming to the level of control one desires in the civilized. At 3 1/2 she'd just let go of herself and then her mother would fuss and clean her up. Her mother was at wits end about what to do. Katy was indifferent.

Katy in complete control
About that time, my niece came to my house in Berkeley for the weekend and I took her, along with my son of about the same age, to Tilden Park to ride the steam train and carousel. My son had been trained since about age 2. I put training pants on Katy and told the truth. No diapers. If she had an accident, we'd have to go back home.

Gosh, we had a great morning. It was early fall and leaves flitted onto us as we rode in the little open train cars. We dawdled by the duck pond before making our way to the carousel. As we stood in line, she tugged my sleeve. She had to go.

I pulled her out of line and my son protested about losing his place. But, we ran hard to, it turns out, the crummiest public bathroom I can ever remember. The child really, truly, had to go. My arms ached from holding her over the commode so long.

Later, at home, we played and ate dinner, went potty before bed. She went home that Sunday afternoon and her parents later told me she never peed or pooped her pants again, ever.

What I get from this experience is that a child, like most normal people, will pay attention and conform to expectations if there's a compelling reason to do so. Once the desired objective has been achieved, it becomes clear that other objectives can be attained as well. Bye, Bye Pampers, hello pedicures.

Honestly, I did not train Katy to go potty, I showed her the benefits of doing so. She was ready to take advantage of the opportunity --

The best carousel ride ever!