My life is going to crap.
Literally, that’s all I do anymore.
Oh, I’m not the one doing the crapping. It’s my son Jack, the 3-year-old. His colon rules my world.
He’s been potty trained for almost a year now, but like anyone his age, when he says he’s got to go, he’s got to go, and you’d better jump.
I kid you not. If we’re driving down the road, and Jack says he’s got to go pee-pee, the van screeches to a halt, the side door slides open, and somebody’s cornfield gets irrigated.
At first, I insisted we try to find bathrooms, like at a McDonald’s or something. But experience has taught us that there is no time for that. If we’re walking down the sidewalk, and Jack says the word, I will turn him loose on your lilac bush.
Somehow he’s got it in his head that it’s ok to pee on car tires.
I think he learned it from the dog.
But this isn’t about Number One, this is about Number Two.
Young Jack, as part of the struggle for Alpha Male status in the household, has observed that, “I’ve got to go poo-poo” is the ultimate parental-control trump card. He says, “I’ve got to go poo-poo” and all of a sudden, no matter where we are or what’s going on, everything drops and he becomes the center of the universe.
Someday, when he’s scraped who knows what out of his own children’s crevices, he’ll understand why.
Unfortunately, he’s a poop tourist.
When we go someplace new, he likes to poop there. If we go visit people, he’s got to poop. If we go to a store, he’s got to poop. If we go out to eat, he’s got to poop.
We went to the mall the other day and he had to poop three times before we could get back to the car.
And each new bathroom he visits is like Disneyland. He’s got to check the place out, usually with great admiration. He’s particularly impressed with those hot-air hand dryers.
I’m glad he enjoys it, because I’m not that fond of the experience. Not at all.
There I am, some dope being dragged along by my finger by a 3-year-old, asking anybody with a name tag where the bathroom is.
Unfortunately, it seems we can’t import enough illegal aliens to clean public restrooms in America and most of them get pretty rank. So in we go, me wiping down the toilet seat, him wrestling himself out of his pants, me trying not to gag at the smell of day-old urine, him not quite getting things under control once he’s on the throne and sending a room-crossing arch of brand-new urine across the floor.
And then we wait.
This kid takes after his mother, the one who reads Harry Potter on the potty.
He hops up there, little legs dangling off the front of the toilet, pants down around his ankles, twiddling his thumbs.
Some times he has to coax it out.
“Come on, poo-poo,” he will say. “It’s time to go live in the potty.”
Usually I just stand there and try to be encouraging and supportive. It’s kind of like being a labor coach, without the Lamaze breathing. And I don’t have to cut the cord.
We’ll make smalltalk. And I’ll smile at him and tell him he’s a good boy.
If he gets that look on his face like he’s straining, I’ll politely look away until I hear the plop.
I figure even a 3-year-old’s got to have a little bit of privacy.
In the spirit of the Olympics, we count the plops. You do that with little kids. You are always on the lookout for ways to reinforce their number skills. In a similar vein, I think Jack is the first person ever to sing “Now I Know My ABCs” in the bathroom at the Chinese buffet.
But about plops and the Olympics – in case you’re keeping score – my kid did Michael Phelps one better.
Unfortunately, in the era of esteem building, kids expect praise. Junior can’t sneeze without getting a gold star.
So when he slides off the toilet and the fruit of his loins floats there on public display, he expects some kind of compliment.
And these kids are smart, if it’s not sincere praise, they know, they can see right through you. So you’ve got to stand there and look down and act like you’re seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time. And by “Mona Lisa,” I mean that 30-year-old poster of Farrah Fawcett Majors.
The one where she’s cold.
“Oh Jack,” you say with all the pride you can muster, “that’s one heck of a poop.”
And then, to be convincing, you’ve got to include some detail, you’ve got to specifically compliment one of its traits.
“Son, that looks just like Florida,” you say, having a flashback to his state puzzle. “Do you know the capital of Florida?”
Sometimes it’s number, size or color that elicit your praise. Sometimes it’s content.
“I didn’t know you had corn yesterday, son.”
“Jack, I told you not to eat any more crayons!”
Once he named one of them. But Uncle Poopy wasn't with us long.
Fortunately, he doesn’t fully grasp the fact that I have a camera on my cell phone. If he did, we’d be sending portraits of them to all the relations.
Being young, Jack likes to brag. As we walk out of the bathroom he announces loudly to no one in particular, “I went poop.” Then he almost congratulates himself, and gives a recap play-by-play. “I had to push really hard. There are four poops. One of them looks like Mr. Potato Head.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Because no job is finished until the paperwork is done.
And that, unfortunately, is my job.
He slides down off the toilet, looks back admiringly, waits for my complimentary commentary, then he bends over.
And that’s not typically a pretty sight.
And you’re haunted by the fact that he’s going to want to do this very same thing at the next store you go to.
Like I said, my life is going to crap.