Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Potty Party

This afternoon, an eighteen-month old said "Potty" and I put her on the toilet and she took a shit.  It was one of the most satisfying things that I have done in a long time.

I have strong feelings about potty training.  It seems absurd to me that all over the world, babies are getting by without diapers and by the time they are a year old they are able to walk around and shit and poop, for the most part in appropriate places at the appropriate times. Apparently, during the first few months of life, infants naturally make a noise that alerts their mothers when they have to go.  If no one responds to this noise, they’ll stop making it and spend the next year or so of their lives filling their diapers full of piss and shit and sitting in it until someone notices and cleans them up. 

In North America, when children are around two years old, we decide that maybe they might enjoy the dignity and cleanliness of eliminating their excretions somewhere other than in their own pants.  The problem with this is that now they are two years old.  I have only been working with two-year-olds for a couple of months, but I have noticed that most of the time when I ask them if they would like to please do something, one of two things happens.

Either they burst into tears, or they say, “no,” at varying decibel levels. Two-year-olds are difficult people going through a traumatic stage of life.  Suddenly they are more aware of what they want, but due to language barriers or more often unrealistic expectations, they frequently won’t get it.  On top of this, they remain burdened by blocks they don’t want to put away, crayons they don’t want to share and now, piles of shit and piss that after a two-year urinary and scatological free-for-all, they are no longer allowed to keep sheltered in diapers snug next to their ass cheeks.  Modern potty training tactics include waiting for the child to show “interest” and “readiness” in the potty before suggesting a regular elimination routine or heaven forbid, removing diapers.  With the limited attention span and boundless angst that I’ve seen in most two-year-olds, I really don’t think that this is a very timely, logical or promising way of going about things.

Also paradoxical to me is that some children are able to create full-fledged sentences involving subjects, actions and complements before they are introduced to the purpose of the toilet and the implications of their colons and bladders.  Children wearing diapers today know the difference between an octopus and a shark, a panda bear and a koala bear.  Sometimes they make elaborate statements such as, “the pineapple is too sour.” 

I say, “Go take a shit on the toilet, and then we can talk about pineapples. And octopi.  With joy.”

I realize that keeping track of when an infant has to go and sticking it in a feces-and-urine- friendly receptacle seems strenuous and time-consuming, but isn’t that kind of what you sign up for when you have a kid?  I mean, the kid has already barreled through your love one’s or your own vagina.  Compared to this, I feel like the inconvenience and occasional mess that occurs when your baby needs to go are pretty minor.   Plus you’ll be done with diapers and most accidents a year and a half earlier than the average parent which will mean a sure savings in both time and money.

Obviously nobody will listen to me since I’ve never given birth, or raised a child, and I’ve barely worked with toddlers for a total of two months.  But I’m ready to devote my life to this.  I talk about it to everyone I meet.

“How was your day?” the nice lady at the grocery says. 

“Oh you know, not bad.  The children are wearing me out."

“Oh, you work at a school?”

“Yes.  With toddlers.  Did you know…”  I ask total strangers when they toilet trained their children.  I even brought it up with the guy who sold me my first mutual fund.  These conversations fill me with delight. 

“Why do you think you love it so much?” asked the Boatman.  He was standing above our toilet taking a piss. I didn’t hesitate with my answer.

“I’ve never been so certain about anything in my whole life.” 

“You’re gonna change the world, babe,” said the Boatman.  “One poop at a time.”  He said it and I’m ready.  Let’s make a new generation of babies who are toilet trained before they’re one and a half.  It makes so much sense for everyone involved.  And I haven’t even mentioned the mountains of diapers that won’t end up in landfills.  Or the gallons of bleachy water that the well-meaning eco-concious cloth-diaper parents won’t be using for laundry.  Or the little baby chakras.  I’m gonna leave the chakras out of this one.  No one wants to hear about little baby chakras. 

But the point is, Pampers and Huggies can kiss my ass.

We need a change, folks. Let’s make it.

And when it’s all over, we can have Potty Party.  

The Potty Party Song:

This is the Potty Party Song, by splashnboots, who I happen to be related to.  The Boatman and I have designated it as "Our Song." We recently sang it at a Karaoeke Party. Likely because both of us were toilet trained after the age of two, we were a bit weak on the verses which, as you will hear, are somewhat complex.  That said, we rocked the chorus.  I look forward to our next karaoeke opportunity.

This post is all over, but here's some valuable information on elimination communication, the common term describing the process of putting your baby on the potty:
EC simplified by an expert Mom, blogger, and author Andrea Olson
Some people, like Ingrid Bauer, a mother and blogger from B.C. call it Natural Infant Hygiene:  Check out her site at
And of course we have our friends at
Hope your potty party's a blast. Feel free to tell me all about it.
Toilet Tales, a book I regret not writing.

Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, self-help book by Erica J. Schmidt

Locks and Keys
What the fuck should I do with my life, Part Two
Three Things to Make the World a Better Place

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Sacred Fire

Vile shrieks emerged from the kitchen. Incomprehensible animal sounds of deep guttural rage.  Everyone seated in my grandmother’s sun room tensed up.  What was that noise?

My mother and her stepfather were fighting about the Boxing Day salmon.  Apparently Howard had taken it out of the oven and messed with the tin foil as he was inspecting its readiness.  In the process, he had destroyed the salmon’s meticulous aesthetic presentation, which had caused my mother exceeding distress.
In the sun room we were playing a game called “Questions,” a conversation starter for dinner parties and other awkward situations.  My Grandma had just read the question, “Would you rather be remembered for your accomplishments or for your character?”

The explosive bellows from the kitchen died down and my mother came to join us in the sun room, a little red in the face and tight in the shoulders.  She huffed and puffed ever so slightly.
 “What’s the question?” she asked.

 My grandmother repeated it.

 Being remembered for character is not always a good thing,” she said.   

 “I agree,” said Robbie, my boyfriend at the time.  I used to call him the Boatman because I met him on a boat. “I would like to be remembered by my accomplishments."  His statement caused some scandal in the sun room.  How shallow and superficial, some of the company was thinking.  But the Boatman already has excellent character and so it is natural that he would wish to aspire to something else.

“Well,” said my grandma.  “I can see that.  I hardly got anything done in my life.  In my next life, I’d like to accomplish more,”   Of course this led to great objection in the sun room.  And tears.  First my sister started, then my grandmother and my mother joined in.  Tears on this side of the family are contagious.   All this emotion inspired my mother to tell us all about her recent singing lessons.

“So I went to see this woman and she gave me all these scales and breathing lessons.  She said I didn’t breathe right so I did her exercises every day. I worked really hard.  Then one week, my soloist at the church had to go away so I didn’t have anyone to do the introit.  So I brought the introit to the singing lesson.  It was only a few bars long.  I’d practiced it a bit before, breathing deeply of course.  And at the lesson, I sang it for my teacher who didn’t smile once through the whole thing.  When I was done, she just sat there.  Finally she said, ‘Well, maybe in a couple of years, you’d be ready to perform it.’”

Now my mother was crying and soon the other women in the family would join in.  No one in the Boatman’s family cries at family dinner and so this is always an interesting experience for him.  My mother wasn’t finished her story.  She continued on a mile-a-minute.

“I just felt so humiliated.  I mean, what a thing for a teacher to say to a student.  For a four-bar introit at a church service in Perth Ontario! And she was charging like 75 bucks a lesson!”

My mother went on to say that she never went back to the teacher.  But the story still wasn’t over.  The next day one of her 12-year-old piano students came to her.   The elementary school talent show was the following day and she wanted to accompany herself singing “Knock, knock knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” by Bob Dylan.  

She went through the song once and it was horrendous.  My mother almost told her it was a lost cause, but then she remembered her traumatizing singing teacher and was determined to coach her student through the song.  She spent a whole hour labouring through the song with her student until she finally sounded good enough for the Stewart School Talent Show. By the end of the story, my mother was in tears again.

“You know, if you’ve got a song, you’ve gotta sing it.”

Now the salmon was ready and my mother returned to the kitchen.  More guttural animal rage and screaming.  This time, Howard was insisting on serving the salmon that had bones in it. The fury was astounding.  After serving everyone’s plate, my mother sat down at the table.  This time, she fumed and huffed and puffed, visibly and audibly.

At the end of the supper, my grandmother and sister had planned something delightful that was guaranteed to raise everyone’s spirits.  Bananas Flambé.

Banana’s flambé, or fried bananas is the stuff of legends in our family.  When my sister Taes was three years old, she went to visit my grandmother in her house in New Jersey.  One day, Grandma told Taes that they were going to a very special restaurant where they could have a very special dessert called Fried Bananas.  So three year old Taes was tremendously excited.  She rushed through her dinner in anxious anticipation of the upcoming dessert. The waitress came with the dessert menu and Taes placed her order.  But alas, the waitress returned with very bad news.  The bananas weren’t ripe enough.  Taes screamed and wailed and made a huge scene, somewhat comparable to the salmon rage.  Rather embarrassed, my grandmother dragged her out of the restaurant.  The next day, Taes called Grandma into the living room where she was watching Sesame Street.  As fate would have it, Big Bird was making Fried Bananas.  My grandmother wrote the recipe down, and our family has been enjoying the delicacy ever since. So on this tense and brawling Boxing Day evening, the whole family gathered around the stove to watch the process.  Taes poured the vodka onto the simmering bananas. 

“I think maybe you need a little more,” said Grandma.   So Taes poured a little more. “Okay, here it goes, said Grandma.  And she threw in the match.  Flames burst up from the frying pan up to the ceiling.  Grandma and Taes froze, eyes widened.

 “Oh wow,” I said.
 “Oh my God,” said my mother.

 “Throw a towel on it, Mary,” called Howard.  “Mary! Put a towel on it!” 

 “Put a lid on that please,” said the Boatman. 
 Nick, my brother-in-law caught the whole thing on camera.  (The movie is entirely delightful; however, for some reason youtube has banned it due to copyright issues. Something about the word flambé, or bananas. We're not sure...)

Probably it took us about forty seconds to find the lid.  In the end, combined with vanilla ice cream, the Bananas Flambé was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. 
The End.

Happier Salmon Days
Sister in Salmon on Salmon with Salmon

Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, self-help book by Erica J. Schmidt

Poopy Mango Baby Wipes and the First Day of Christmas
Family Visits and Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Other Things that Happened in December