It must be noted that this post was written a few months ago for a anthology submission. It was not accepted (clearly) so I am sharing it with you. We were in the throws of potty training at the time, and it was not going well. Let’s just say it was crap. Luckily I can report things are better; not much, but at least a little. Enjoy.
I sit here, staring at you, while you stare right back at me. This is a dance we’ve done many times, and that defiant look in your eyes lets me know we will do this many more times to come.
You mother and I have tried everything to convince you of the benefits of not only using the potty, but of not urinating on or soiling yourself, yet somehow our days still end with a debate of whether we can salvage your undies or we should throw them out. You continue to refuse to use the potty; instead you seem to almost enjoy the feeling of the grotesque warmth of your bowl movements against your skin.
This time spent together has really helped me come to some valuable realizations; most importantly is that you are truly your father’s son. By that I mean you are a creature of not only habit but of comfort as well; and you see no reason to change.
This would explain why you still routinely run behind the chair in the living room to handle your business. Your mother and I, hearing the tell-tale strains and grunts of someone struggling with their daily download, call out to you and ask if you are indeed pooping and would like to try the potty, only to be met with, “OH NO, poopies!” Oh no indeed my friend.
It would also explain why you seem to only feel the need to poop when either we are just about to leave the house, or your mother and I personal favorite, right as we are putting food in our mouths. Because nothing caps off a hearty breakfast like your son grunting like a frat boy recovering from a bender the night before, and the wafting smell of last night’s dinner that would make a stranger think we feed you dead rats. How does a smell like THAT come from something as small as you?
And finally, now I understand why you only want to poop at home. Hey, this one I’m not too upset about. It definitely has made life easier on me and your mother. In your short three years we have happily never experienced a blowout while in public, and rarely have we ever had to struggle to find a bathroom with a changing table. My only request here would be that maybe you work in a dump or two a week at daycare. I mean really, we pay them enough to take care of you all week, let them handle some of the literal shit-work once in a while.
On occasion you toy with us by asking to sit on the potty, giving us just enough hope so when you predictably crush it, we won’t hurtle ourselves out of a third-story window. In a weird stroke of irony your favorite book to read right now is Everyone Poops; and you love reading it ass-naked while sitting on the potty, but you know what you’re not doing; pooping, so that book is a liar!
All your defiance and insistence on not using the potty has given me great pause how you might handle difficult situations later in life; more specifically once you have left the comfort of the only home you’ve ever known and are on your own.
You see son, there’s a saying I’m sure you will hear many times in your life which is, “Either shit, or get off the pot.” This saying is designed to help someone make difficult decisions. To give them that boost when they are stuck, sitting there, much you like you are now. It’s meant to help that person accomplish what they once set out to do, once and for all.
You have two sides to this equation. On one side you have the choice to get off the pot, but getting off the pot is tantamount to quitting, to giving up, to not accomplishing what you came to do. Where on the other side of the equation you have….well, shit. Hold on, hear me out. Shitting equals success! That’s right, shitting on the pot is a positive thing, and is probably the only time in your life when shitting on something will be literally viewed as a good thing.
If I could impart any wisdom to you, not only as your father, but as someone who has experienced life a little bit longer than you have, and has had my fair share of shit or get off the pot moments, it is this:
Shit on the pot, Son!
In your still infantile stage of life you have certainly mastered the art of getting off the pot. I would not encourage you to make this your modus operandi when faced with difficult decisions as an adult.
Your mother and I will not always be there to help you. Sure, for the next 18 years while you still live at home we will be your biggest cheerleaders, as well as your biggest kick in the pants to get you moving. But the reality is, we’re not always going to be around to nudge you to make the right choice, nor should we be depended upon to make decisions for you.
Life is going to present you with ample opportunities to get off the pot; to play it safe; to not take the risk. I say, shit on that pot, Son; take a chance; jump off that cliff (NOT LITERALLY, that’s dangerous!).
I tell you this because while you have spent many of your early days (and I hope many more as you get older) looking up to me, seeing me in almost super-hero-like status, I would ask that you not be like me.
I spent much of my youth scared to take risks. I frequently played it safe, and rarely put myself out there. This led to taking jobs I did not like, simply to pay the bills, and not taking the time to really foster my passions in life. Of course meeting your mother and having you has helped to change that, but I certainly regret the time missed and the risks not taken.
Of course, not every shit is going to turn into a great opportunity, and yes your time on the pot will have been nothing better than a waste, but with every time you stay on that pot instead of getting up and giving up, you will gain valuable life lessons and experiences that you can never put a price on, and you’ll avoid a lot of stomach pains from gas and back up.
I know none of this will make any sense to you right now; I just hope one day when we do have this conversation, or more likely when you read all that I have written about you over the years, you understand that as your father, I just want to see you be the best shitter you can be.
But for now, please…just shit on the pot, Son….diapers are expensive.