Monday, March 22, 2010

Universal truths: Potty-training and alcoholism

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a parent in possession of a potty-training toddler, must be in want of a drink.

However little known the trials and pitfalls of such a parent may be on her first undertaking to rear children, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of experienced parents, that her attempts at organized super-mom-ness during phases such as toilet training, the short-lived attempt to force down vegetables, and enthusiastic attendance at idiotic Mommy & Me classes, are cordially laughed off and responded to with a silent handing over of a gin and tonic.

“My dear John,” said the two-year-old’s mother to him one day, “do you remember that if you go poop on the potty you get two chocolates?”

John Henry looked up from his trucks and replied that he wanted chocolate.

“But you must go poop on the potty,” returned she; “for your Granny and aunt recommended that method, and told me all about it.”

John Henry made no answer.

“Don’t you want some chocolate?” cried his mother impatiently.

You want to give me some, and I have no objection to eating it,” he might have said, had he been capable of sentence formation.

His uninterested expression was exasperation enough.

“My dear, you must know, if you go poop on the potty, your Granny living in the north of England advised that you get two chocolates; she sent a well-wrapped parcel to ensure that you had enough of them, and I would be so delighted with you if you went poop on the potty, that I would give them to you immediately; that you would probably be out of your hated diapers by the Equinox, and that I could have some organic cotton underpants in the house for you by the end of next week.”

“No pants?”

“Underpants. And chocolate.”

“I want chocolate.”

“If you go POOP. On the POTTY.”

[John Henry proceeded to ignore his mother, and ten minutes later she caught the telltale strained expression that informed her he was proceeding to crap in his non-organic cotton underpants from OshKosh.]

John Henry was so odd a mixture of stubborn will, rare speech, reserve, and contrary desires, that the experience of two and a half years had been insufficient to make his mother understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develope. She was a mother of unimaginative persistence, little patience, and short temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself introverted. The business of her life was getting her son to feed himself and wipe his own bum; its solace was the glug-glug-splash of a freshly opened bottle of pinot noir after the child had gone to bed.

(With thanks and apologies to Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)

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