Sunday, December 04, 2011

Heeding the call of duty, and nature

“No, Evan, those aren't yours,” I said, proud of myself for being a good parent.  If Bernie Madoff’s dad had taken similar corrective action many years ago, the world might still think that a Ponzi scheme is a mischievous but harmless plan hatched by Potsie and Fonzi, perhaps to steal some of Mrs. Cunningham’s meatloaf.

“Wahpops!” Evan protested, holding out his ill-gotten Dum Dums.  Just moments earlier, I’d watched Evan root around in the back of the cubby next to his, pulling out two small lollipops.  He knew exactly where they were, so he must have watched his mark stash them there earlier in the day.

We were the last people leaving daycare, so nobody else had witnessed Evan’s first attempt at grand theft sucrose.

“Those aren’t your lollipops, Evan.  Please put them back, right now,” I said.

“Wahpops!  Wahpops!” he cried as he put them back into his friend Logan’s cubby.

The tears continued well into the ride home.

“I’m sorry you’re so upset, buddy, but it’s not nice to take other people’s things,” I said.

The hollering was tough to listen to, but I was glad that Evan’s first experience with stealing was unpleasant.  A little shame goes a long way.  My parents caught me stealing a pack of gum from Wawa when I was four, and the experience so traumatized me that I never stole anything again while they were looking.

At Evan’s daycare, the kids earn lollipops in return for successful visits to the potty.  Ordinarily, I hate to miss out on Evan’s learning experiences during the day, but this is one activity I’m happy to farm out.

Before I’d ever changed a diaper, I assumed that any sane person would want their kid potty-trained within about the first week home from the hospital.  You’d just prop your kid on the john until things started clicking, then you could spend all the time you would have spent at the changing table on the couch playing Call of Duty.

Now that Evan’s two-and-a-half, though, he’s having to drag me into the bathroom, demanding to be potty trained.

“Go potty, Daddy,” he’ll say, tugging on my hand, and I’ll sigh.

“Okay, okay,” I’ll reply.

We’ll spend the next two minutes getting him ready, peeling off clothing and arranging his seat and stepstool.  Then he’ll sit down, kick the bowl with his heels three times and say, “I’m done.”

“You didn’t do anything, Evan,” I’ll say.

“Done!” he’ll reply.

Then we’ll spend the next five minutes putting his clothes back on and washing his hands, getting ready to repeat the process again in half an hour.  After some initial signs of progress, we've gone 0 for our last fifty attempts.  We're in danger of becoming less productive than Congress.

As much as changing diapers isn’t the most fun thing to do, there are scarier things to contemplate.  When a dog has accidents, you’re pretty much guaranteed that they’ll happen on the floor.  With a kid, there’s a decent chance you’ll have to burn some furniture in the backyard.  When I look at our couch and how it fits perfectly in the room, I think I’ll be fine with changing Evan's diaper until sometime just before his prom.

The morning after the Great Lollipop Caper, his teacher met us outside her classroom as I dropped Evan off.

“Oh, did you see that Evan got two lollipops yesterday for going to the potty?  He was so proud, he ran over and stashed them in his cubby to show you later,” she said.

This time, the shame was mine.  Evan had stashed his rewards one cubby to the left by accident, and was too upset by my reaction to explain what had happened.

Sometimes, when you least expect it, the Dum Dum turns out to be you.

It's easy to take candy from Mike Todd at

1 comment:

  1. Aw poor little Evan!! So proud of himself and now probably traumatized for life! LOL