‘Potty’ like no tomorrow

Many wonderful things happened in the year 1993. The economy was solid. Fifth grade rocked. But, the release of the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day basically ruined the rest of the year for those of us who spent our parents’ hard-earned cash to view such a debacle. (Or rent it a year later, in 1994, on VHS. Be kind, rewind.)

For those of you who were smart and avoided this monstrosity of a movie, the basic premise is this: a weatherman becomes entrapped in life on repeat, living Groundhog Day over and over again. Seriously? Why Groundhog Day? Why can he not relive Christmas? Or even Labor Day?

Now I know why. The things that tend to play on repeat are usually the things that stress us out the most. For me? My Groundhog Day is potty training. With my first child, I was an advantageous new mom with nothing but time on her hands and an afternoon of Boy Meets World reruns. That kid was trained by age 2, and a 10-hour trip to the beach proved she was a potty training genius. With our second child, I had a little less time on our hands, started him a few months later than his sister, but when he woke up on Christmas Day and said, “I am tired of wearing diapers” it was like the heavens parted and rained potty training favor over our underwear-only household.

Then our third child came. I had two in diapers, zero time on my hands, so I waited “until he was ready.” Who am I kidding. I was the one unprepared. It seemed as if the past few years, my life consisted of sprinting to the bathroom with a child naked from the waist down, and slowly making the walk of shame to the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of bleach spray and paper towels. This madness had to end.

So, there we were, a few weeks ago, in a Chick-fil-A play area after enjoying a delicious lunch and little disagreement over which toy surprise belonged to whom and why this particular chicken-only establishment advertises cow counterparts. I barely have enough energy these days to open their ketchup packets, much less explain fast food marketing techniques.

We were in the play area no less than five minutes. Long enough for the older children to scatter and the younger ones to whine for naptime. We had the glass-enclosed area mostly to ourselves, when it happened. I glanced up from my book. (Yes, I am that mother who brings reading material to a play area. Those brightly colored tubes that hang 10 feet from the ground are death traps for adults. And, I really like these things called books.) I viewed a trail of something that led to a pile of something that led to a child that smelled like something unbearable.

Please tell me that is lemonade.

Please tell me that is a large, offensive pile of damp dirt from someone’s shoes. What, shoes are not allowed in the play area? Houston, we have a problem.

After a similar experience at Fort Kid just a few days later, I brought it up at the pediatrician’s office. Once you have lived through the toddler era of three children, many of us feel there is nothing else left to learn. We are wrong; there is always knowledge to acquire. The doctor told my son to stop using his shorts as a public restroom and begin using the toilet like a 3-year-old should. They shook hands to seal the deal, and we have not had an accident since.

Apparently, to a 3-year-old, his word is his bond. So, the next time you see him traipsing through the store with a brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, dry pants and a smile, you will know the cycle is broken, the 1990s were awesome and our Groundhog Day has come to an end. Beat that, Bill Murray.


Christie Elkins is a Campbell County native whose columns appear on the Lifestyles page of the LaFollette Press. She’s a mother of three and a full-time blogger at lettersfromthenest.com.