potty tales

December 7, 2004

By the time I began my baby-sitting years, I was well prepared for potty-training adventures. My own siblings and I were close enough in age to where I was not terribly involved, except for the occasional bespeckled-toilet-seat scolding, in their early years in the bathroom. It began, though, when Mom started taking in other’s kids, when I was in middle school. She was amazing with kids, and we had a vibrant and welcoming household, so she ended up taking on child-care without really intending to.

One of these children–Keith–actually ended up moving in with us, as a 4-year-old. He was the only child of a single mother, and she decided to try some sort of intern career move to another town. As she did not want to commit to the move, and uproot Keith in the middle of the school year, she asked my mom if she would take him in during the week. Never one to say no, and happy to have another child around, mom happily agreed. So, Keith moved in to the spare bedroom upstairs, that was in between move-in friends at the time (of which my dear friend Julia was later a resident–but that’s another story for another day . . .).

Well, soon after Keith joined our family, I discovered that he was not entirely great about using the toilet in the middle of the night. The bed-wetting was beginning to improve after a few weeks, however, and I rejoiced at the decrease of wee morning sheet changes. In exchange, I was happy to turn the bathroom light after him when he did get up at night to use it, and so I got used to waking up to the flushing toilet and going in to flip the switch when I saw the light still glowing into my bedroom.

Until, that is, I realized the occasional unfortunate result of such a late night awakening for Keith . . . One night I routinely got out of bed after the flushing toilet, and walked sleepily into the bathroom. The way the house was added on to when my large family moved in, we have en attic entrance door next to the toilet in that bathroom. As the door is unfinished wood, I immediately noticed that night that it was suddenly substantially darker than it’s original hue. “Hey Keith,” I asked, “did something happen in the bathroom?” He walked back in, cute as ever in his spiderman undies and nightshirt. Rubbing his eyes, he looked at the door for a moment before replying “Oh–yeah–I didn’t aim fast enough . . .” I laughed–and still can’t remember that answer without laughing all over again. “Ok, Keith–thanks–go on back to bed now,” I managed, in between giggles. Even at 13 years old, I was thankfully amused at childhood frankness that eliminates any chance of possible annoyance.

Between occasions like this that occurred regularly at that time, and plenty of others, as kids trickled in and out of the household, I eventually developed some sort of immunity against being bothered by interesting bodily function events.

Later, as a nanny, I discovered a tendency that conversations with other women confirmed as not limited to my experience. I had recently begun caring for a 6-week-old little boy, who I cared for from that time on through the birth of his little sister and then, after full-time care, on and off until I moved away from the area. At any rate, I don’t remember how old he was at the time, but one night, during bath night, I discovered why his last few days of diaper changes had been curiously innocuous. It turns out he had saved up all his #2 activities for bath time. It actually took me some thought that night to figure out precisely how to manage clean up of the interesting mess I was then faced with. Thankfully, I came up with a decent plan, as that was his preferred method for several months. By the time he had rediscovered his diaper for that purpose, I was quite pleased, to say the least.

*sigh* Believe it or not, I do miss those eventful days and nights of child care– I do think those types of experiences remind us of the necessity to laugh at life’s little perplexingly amusing moments :-)

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