Advanced Toilet Training

Photo by Mary Hodder

Photo by Mary Hodder

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.

Lao-tzu Was Never a Mother


The Question:

Photo by Louise Docker

Photo by Louise Docker

Do you have the patience to wait

til your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving

till the right action arises by itself?

–Tao te Ching, Lao-tzu

   trans. by Stephen Mitchell

The Answer:

No, not usually. It seems especially difficult when Five has half the contents of the spice cupboard spread all over the counter, making his sanctioned mini-mixture for an individual tuna melt (the rest of us will eat the standard version, thanks). Actually a mom-approved activity, given that we’re trying to  reconnect after he threw his pencil at me during the homework session and I’m trying to feed my family sometime in the vicinity of six p.m. All of this is fine. Mud settling, water clearing.

Then Two walks into the room, after a long, suspicious silence. Her shirt is half off, twisted around and caught on one arm. Her bottom is completely bare, because in her hands is an open diaper cradling extremely round poop that cooperatively rolls onto the kitchen floor as she holds it up for me to “sThee?” Sometimes it just gets a little muddy around here.

My Questions:

How will my mud ever settle with little feet tromping incessantly through my riverbed? Watch this! Oooh, look what I found under this rock! Do it again!

And did Lao-tzu have children? If so, did he raise them himself? Or have wives, concubines and female servants do it for him?

Photo obtained from Google images. Please notify me of any copyright infringement.