***WARNING: This post is not for the squeamish.***
Sometimes I stop and think about what being a parent really means, and it is frightening. When your child is born, they literally don't know anything. They don't know how to talk. They don't know how to make themselves mobile. Heck, the little stinkers don't even know how to control their own limbs, and our jobs as parents is to teach them absolutely everything one must know in order to function as a human. I don't know about you, but that seems like a pretty daunting task when you think about.
I remember my cousin buying a Furby when we were in college. We would sit around while we were bored (yeah, bored, that's what we were) trying to teach it dirty words and phrases, but it didn't learn and we soon became irritated with it and gave up. I know now that at that point I was not ready for kids, because kids are infinitely harder to train than a Furby. For one thing, the Furby wouldn't learn the bad words we wanted it to, which caused no hardship for us at all, but kids will learn the bad words you don't want them to and recite them at the top of their lungs at the most inopportune times. Obviously, that is more irritating, but teaching kids to talk is far from the biggest challenge a parent faces on their way to training their very own human. No, the biggest challenge when training a human child is potty training. Some people may think teaching a teenager to drive is harder, but those people are idiots. Think about it: If your teenager wrecks the car, who has to clean up the mess? Somebody else, that's who. If your toddler craps their pants at the park on the hottest day of year, who has to sweat their butt off in a stinky park bathroom with flies buzzing around their head trying to clean the kids' rear-end while also trying to keep their curious hands from touching anything that will require hospital-strength sterilization? You do!
Now, some of you non-parent-types out there may be wondering why the kid wasn't wearing a diaper at the park if they aren't fully potty trained. Let me explain. You see, potty training a kid isn't like teaching your pet bird to say, "Your fly's undone," whenever a guest at your house walks out of the bathroom. You don't just work with them and then when they learn it the process is over. The hardest thing about potty training is that the real hassle doesn't start until they are out of diapers. Kids are more clever than we give them credit for. They will poop and pee (another side effects of potty training is that you talk about poop and pee like some people talk about the weather or sports scores) on the potty with 100% accuracy until they have you convinced they are ready for real underwear. That is when the fun starts.
My daughter was "potty trained" (totally fake title) when she was two. One day, after she was "potty trained", I discovered that she had pooped her pants (I know, doesn't sound potty trained at all, right?). When I was working on getting her pants and underwear off, she decided to help me out by kicking her underwear off, which basically turned her underwear into some kind of medieval poo launcher. She thought it was funny. It is only now, years later, that I am able to laugh about it.
My son has been "potty trained" (can we drop the myth already?) for a few months now, but we still go through about five pairs of big boy underwear a day, and it is not as if he just doesn't understand how to tell he needs to use the bathroom because he will leave the living room, walk past the bathroom, and hide in his closet to do it. You don't do all of that by accident!
And another thing, whoever thought it was necessary to teach kids to use the toilet before they are ten forgot one little hiccup: diarrhea. I know fully grown adults who can barely make it to the bathroom when they have the flu. How in the world can we expect a three-year-old to understand the concept of "never trust a fart"? It's not going to happen. I've watched my kids get this look of fearful bewilderment as their pants inexplicably become heavier. One lovely evening, my daughter walked into the living room with her pants soaking wet. She told me she had peed her pants. As she got closer, I noticed the smell. She hadn't peed her pants at all. The poor girl spent about half an hour in the bathtub as I raced around trying to figure out what to do. We didn't have any pull-ups for her, and I certainly wasn't going to change her pants every five minutes, which happened to be the intervals at which she would announce from the bathroom, "It happened again!" I hosed her down in there at least five times before I was able to get hold of my wife at work. She came up with the idea of digging the little training potty out and having her sit in the living room on it so she could watch a movie until her tummy felt better. She ended up having to sit on the training potty for like three hours.
Why do we put this burden on small children? I say make potty training part of the fifth grade curriculum and leave it alone until then. I don't understand what the big rush is anyway. The way I see it, life is just a big race to get back into diapers. I can't wait until I don't have to be bothered with nuisances like trips to the restroom during my daily routine. Just leave me alone with my applesauce; I'll scream when I need someone to change me.