I didn’t realize that the Birthday Girl (almost three) had managed to sneak a rock into the bathroom until it was already in the toilet bowl. I looked down through the cloud of urine and partially dissolved toilet paper to where it squatted sharply against the porcelain, and my options spun quickly through my brain. Just flush it down? Put the girl down for her nap, then come and fish it out, ideally with tongs?
“Rocks don’t belong in the toilet,” I told my daughter, as I matter-of-factly pushed up her sleeve. “You may reach down and get it out,” I continued, in a friendly voice that nonetheless conveyed no possibility of negotiation.
It’s not often that you get invited to stick your hand in the toilet, at any age. She hesitated a second, no doubt torn between curiosity and disgust, then shuddered once her hand was submerged. Rock safely retrieved and discarded, neither one of us said another word about it as went on to wash our hands, very thoroughly. I suspect that is the first and last foreign object that will be visiting our toilet bowl. The birthday girl trotted off to her nap with a bit more than the usual amount of cooperation, and I reveled in the rare experience of that most satisfying parental experience: an appropriate consequence that does my job for me.