My wife and daughter are trying to ruin my life. In fact, judging from the cheering and applause, the whole business seems to excite them both entirely too much. They want to abandon my perfectly workable and orderly methods so that they can substitute a complex finicky mess, with the emphasis on mess. I think they’ve even been looking forward to this for months. It seems to me like some sort of insanity; whereas I quite rationally want to stifle my daughter’s progress by any means necessary.
You see, our lives have reached that momentous phase which is commonly called “potty training.” I prefer diapers.
I haven’t always felt this way, although you’d have to go back a long way to find my former opinion. When my wife was still pregnant, I notoriously suggested that we could put our baby in a shopping bag. The handles would be like the straps of a dress, but instead of an opening at the bottom there would be a bag. Whenever our future baby did its business, we would replace the bag and wash the little tyke’s tushy by setting her in the toilet and flushing repeatedly.
Oddly, no one supported that position either.
For a while we toyed with the idea of using cloth diapers. They’re supposed to be more environmentally friendly and cheaper, although both of those considerations probably ignore the massive required increase in water and laundry detergent usage. Also, I’m not sure why I would want to keep and reuse something in which a human being poops. Frankly, if someone made disposable toilets, I’d use them too.
Luckily, someone warned us that we would need to change our newborn daughter’s diaper about 150 times in the first week. That evaporated the reusable diaper mystique in a hurry. (It didn’t make the shopping bag idea look better either.)
But disposable diapers are like little folded paper pants of joy. The ones we use even have cartoon characters on them, to emphasize their joyfulness. I don’t need convincing, though. I work, play, and sleep better knowing that remarkably few of my possessions risk suffering the full force of my daughter’s impressive digestive and filtering abilities.
Why would anyone want to take that comfort away from me? What did I do to deserve this?
You see, my wife is fanatically and incomprehensibly obsessed with embarking on an unpredictable trip through confusion, headaches, and soiled car-seats, all with a daughter who can’t actually say, “Daddy, I need to use the potty.” She can try, but it would sound like “Dada, tottee?” (Yes, it would be a question.) Unfortunately, that’s also what each of the following sound like:
“Daddy, may I have some grapes?”
“Daddy, may I watch my movie?”
“Daddy, there’s a doggy outside.”
“Daddy, when is mommy coming home?”
“Daddy, this triangle is orange.”
“Daddy, I destroyed the bookshelf again.”
Granted, our daughter seems pretty interested in the idea too. Her grandparents gave her an adorable little training potty, which plays music when she flushes it. Naturally she likes to sit on it and pretend. I don’t think she’s going to appreciate discovering that real toilets aren’t musical, or that the process is generally less whimsical once urgency is introduced. Add to that the fact that I can’t get her to stop wearing her training potty as a hat or using it as a large pink drinking cup, and there are plenty of reasons to retain it as merely a toy.
Nevertheless, she’s started running to it lately and removing her own diaper. (Unfortunately she also sometimes removes her own diaper and then doesn’t run to it.) I’m pretty sure that my wife has been encouraging her behind my back.
Then the other night she reached a milestone. She used her potty for real for the first time. Everyone clapped and laughed. Meanwhile I banged my head against the hallway wall.