Never in my life would I have imagined so much about my Air Force career and raising my two kids would intersect. In a million years I never would have seen the connection between Air Force test pilots and potty training.
So the obvious and tired lesson is: never say never.
Air Force test pilot and breaker of the sound barrier Chuck Yeager was once asked if he was ever frightened testing so many new aircraft. His response, “I figure an airplane won’t swap ends without letting me know it.” Meaning Yeager felt the plane wouldn’t just break apart or crash without the giving him some type of warning, allowing him to take action.
Air Force test pilots in the late 40s early 50s also had a saying that there was no such thing as an accident, only a series of events leading up to a crash.
What does any of that have to do with potty training? Well funny you should ask.
I’ve learned some things as a parent believe it or not. That may come as a shock to a few people who know me from my Air Force days. We may need to let them catch their breath… Ok everyone back with us? Great.
Let’s tell some truths shall we. Kids don’t have accidents. From my experience with the potty predicaments kids know what they’re doing. It’s not an accident. It’s a series of events or more closer to the point, a series of decisions, leading up to a mess. A mess they have no burden to clean.
Too many times have my kids stood there looking right at me saying/yelling/crying they had to potty. But instead of moving to the bathroom, they just stand there going potty! Had they been hysterical for 10 seconds instead of 15, they would have made it to the bathroom. They may not have hit the potty, but the clean up is so much easier on the linoleum bathroom floor than it is on the carpet, on the hardwood, or in the tub.
Now Frank was a bit of a slow starter but rarely a sneak attacker. He got me once when he was six months or so. Took his diaper off and he hosed me. But that’s about it.
He did whack the tub twice. And I mean whack it, like a Haz Mat Level 5 whacking. But some of that was my fault. Captain Barnacles never had a chance. My first burial at sea. Full Naval honors too. I’ll never watch Octonauts the same again.
Still for the most part Frank would give some good indicators of a pending evacuation. He did the traditional red face, and then the shock face. But he could go quiet as well.
If he abruptly stopped doing or playing and headed for a door jamb or coffee table or ottoman to lean on, I knew he was pooping. When he held on with two hands and then added the red face, I got an extra pack of wipes.
Once he could speak with any consistency we would get the Paul Revere treatment. “I have to poop daddy! Mommy I have to poop!” One day he just went on his own, long before he was potty trained, and dropped a two right in his Lightning McQueen potty. He walks out into the kitchen, bare assed, pants at his ankles, and yells with much attitude, “Can I get some wipes!” I almost fell into the pot of ravioli.
After Frank started on the road to potty independence he would shut the door. He went from public poop proclamations to discrete defecator pretty quickly.
His sister on the other hand is still in the pronouncement mode. She’s almost fully trained and I’m still getting the Paul Revere. She’ll even run past the bathroom to my office to tell me she has to potty. She won’t move till I say “Ok Anne Marie, go potty.” Then it’s off to the races to the potty only to reemerge 5 minutes later: “Daddy I went potty!” She is a proud pottier.
Anne Marie did the red face too. But she developed another signal that a #2 was eminent. She grew out of the red face and went to a very spooky 1000 yard stare.
She would just all of a sudden look off into the distance as if she was contemplating her place in the universe. It took me once or twice to get the signal down. If she goes quiet and stares like she sees dead people, she’s going to poop. If she stares a hole in the wall as if she can see another dimension, she’s going to poop.
However, much like the golf pro who can take his practice routine to the course, Anne Marie has taken her game to the potty. The 1000 yard stare that was the harbinger of diaper doom has reappeared on the big people potty. It’s now the sign of intense concentration.
Unlike her brother, the bathroom door stays open when she’s in there. That’s a two birds with one stone situation. First and foremost if the door is closed and she’s in there, she’s up to no good. More than likely she’s trying to fill the room with water from the sink so she can go swimming. So the door is open for safety’s sake; my safety.
It also stays open because Anne Marie is still in the throws of potty training and still needs help from time to time. With the door open I can hear her calling for me. Because the door stays open, I noticed the 1000 yard stare is still in effect.
Walking past the bathroom I saw my youngest doing her business. At first glance I thought she looked at me. On second glance, her eyes were facing me but she was looking through me, not at me. I’m not entirely sure she even saw me. It was spooky, not gonna lie.
When she didn’t respond after my second try I decided to treat her like a sleepwalker. We’re still not waking sleepwalkers right? Anyway, I figured she was finding her place in the universe while concentrating on making poo. Plus she is almost to full potty independence. I’m not gonna break her routine.
Hey a little concentrated poo making never hurt anyone.
I don’t think.