I’ve been trying to determine the worst part of potty training and I am torn.
Before ever beginning potty training, I would’ve predicted it was having a child that was completely un-potty trained. It’s hard to imagine anything worse than a baby diaper blowout.
There’s the soak-through overnight diapers.
The, “Oh, crap, it’s crap and the wipes have dried out” moment.
Or, “I am driving and the foul odor of rancid diarrhea is wafting through my car but I am not in any kind of position to stop driving and even if I do, where in God’s name am I going to change the child?”
That was all pre-potty training though.
Now, I am an expert and I have narrowed down the disgusting reality of infant excretions to two top contenders:
The Partial Poo and The Surprise Plop.
My son is ready to be rocking undies solo any day now, but he still has too many accidents to confidently leave the house sans diapers.
The Surprise Plop: When Huck tells me, “I gotta go poo poo” and I get excited and start encouraging him, rushing him along to the toilet. I pull off his undies and surprise! Plop. Onto the floor drops the nug he already squeezed out.
The Partial Poo: When Huck tells me, “I gotta go poo poo” and I get all excited until I realize his face is already red, eyes watering because he has since started to push it out.
This means I will attempt to get him to finish on the pot and end up using toilet paper to try and wipe off the poop that has already squished all over his little, white tush.
That never works, so he will have to hobble awkwardly back to the bedroom where I can snag the wipes and effectively give him what all parents know as the “wipes bath.”
Not to mention that while we’re doing all of this “training” we’re also cramming both kids full of chocolate as bribes.
So, it’s like poop and chocolate, poop and chocolate. It’s enough to make you turn lent into a yearlong event to give up sweets.
The best part about potty training? We’re not there yet.
I still despise that every time my daughter has to go to the bathroom we have to be involved in the wiping process. Lord knows if we didn’t get the job done, she sure as hell wouldn’t.
So, the best part of potty training? Probably comes at around the same time they get their driver’s licenses.
By then, there will be a whole host of new complaints about a lack of cleanliness.
All Corsa vacations are preceded by a moderate disaster.
One time we had to rush our French Bulldog to the emergency vet for a costly, time-consuming overnight visit that resulted in a diagnosis of “bad gas.”
Another night before leaving on a trip, my husband’s car stopped working.
Stomach bugs, pink eye, even a massive “bomb” dropping onto the hood of my car from the monkey puzzle tree in front of our old bungalow. It never fails.
This time, I take the dogs to get their vaccines so they will be up to date for a week at “camp” and the vet notices my Boston Terrier has a hematoma on his ear that will need to be drained.
Tack on 300 more bucks to what was already a hefty bill and my last day before vacation will be spent rushing him to and from the vet. (not to mention he will be wearing the cone of shame while being humped by strange dogs. Double shame.)
That night I also get ridiculously sick. So sick I call in to work at 3am. Yet, my boss text messages me at 6 in the morning and basically begs me to come in anyway.
I am miserable.
I haven’t washed my hair.
I can’t speak.
I end up leaving early to go to an after-hours clinic for a Z-pack.
While in recovery, I somehow develop a massive swollen gum in the space where my 4th wisdom tooth would’ve been… if I had one there. (but, I don’t) Now, I am kicking off my vacation with wicked jaw pain.
We’re on Cuban time, so my husband and I race around packing and dressing the kids (no small feat) (they have small feet) but then have to sit around wasting time for hours until the rest of the clan is ready to go.
Even then, we must depart in a group.
We’re going in separate cars, but it’s the soldier’s creed. No man left behind.
Anna Maria Island is beautiful and quaint, the vacation house ideal.
There’s a lagoon-like pool with a sometimes operable waterfall and a minimal amount of beach sand collected on the bottom.
We are two blocks from the beach.
This should be a great vacation, except for my aching jaw, endless stream of snot and the sensation I have plummeted instantaneously into the 1950’s.
I end up trapped in a bedroom with two insane children hopped up on VACATION, jumping around the bed we’re all expected to share while my husband is downstairs watching the World Cup.
Maybe it was the fear that this was going to become the anticipated routine.
Maybe it was the burgeoning revelation that the entire trip was secretly orchestrated to coincide with the World Cup in order to torture me.
Maybe it was all I could do to keep myself from racing through the home with a burning bra, but I stormed downstairs and demanded the keys to the car to go for a drive.
The next morning after being pummeled all night long by bony elbows and knees, awoken by the sound of my son grinding his teeth in his sleep and the pain in my whole face… I’m still ready to tackle my pre-women’s suffrage duties and help cook breakfast for the house of 12. (My family, my in-laws, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, her two kids, his two kids and one teenage friend of her son)
I remember that they cook their scrambled eggs with oil while I opt for butter or butter spray so they’ll probably find mine bland and inedible. I decide to go for the bacon and start to get the pan when my mother-in-law says, “You need to put it in the microwave first.”
I mentally throw my hands up and avoid cooking bacon for the rest of the trip.
The next day at the beach, Mother Nature valiantly came to my rescue.
I am obsessed with sharks. Terrified of them, adore them, secretly hope and dread for encounters with them.
The very first time I am watching my mother-in-law wade in the water with my daughter on her hip, I spot something unusual a couple of yards behind them. It looked like something pointy and dark sticking up out of the water.
Then there were two.
They were moving.
I walked toward abuela Corsa and made a hand motion for her to come toward me.
I could see clearly now there were at least two, possibly three sharks in the water.
I didn’t want to be “that guy” that shouts “SHARK!” and terrifies everyone at the beach. But, then again my mother-in-law is embracing my precious cargo and this scenario is like an unimaginable nightmare.
I remain calm even as my mother-in-law continues to demand to know why I am telling her to come to shore.
Other people see them too, so I have confirmation. These were not dolphins. I know what dolphins are. In fact, we saw some of those later in the day. Completely different swimming behavior.
The same day, we also watched a manatee lumbering along in the shallows.
Late afternoon, the summer storms roll in and I am watching them from our balcony. Billowing, fast-moving, dark clouds. Swirling, hinting at circulation. Palm trees whipping around like witches on broomsticks.
God bless you Mother Nature, you have shaken me from my stress-induced stupor.
The days that followed were filled with moments of joy, stress, hilarity and a healthy dose of awkward.
Perfect example of the latter: One of the said extraneous children along for the trip is about 9 years old.
He’s soft-spoken to the point of being irritating and even more bizarre than I was as a child.
He’s also a bit sneaky.
He and his sister appear to have some kind of arrangement that allows them to cheat and win at card games, hide each others’ crimes and possibly bury bodies in the backyard unnoticed.
At one point, my mother-in-law shouted that she saved me a piece of cheesecake.
Within a matter of seconds, I watched the boy grab the last piece and stick it inside an orange Dixie Cup so nobody would know he did it.
The night before I watched him go for some cheesecake in the freezer and when he saw me watching him, he rushed to open the freezer and put it back but his chicken-like arms were too weak to open the door.
He squeaked out a strange animalistic cry of frustration, like someone squeezed a rabbit REALLY hard.
To add insult to injury, a short while after he purloined MY piece of cheesecake, he shit it back out in the bathroom ATTACHED to our bedroom.
He is a Junior, so they call him “Tito.”
He shall henceforth be known as Cheesecake Tito to me.
Here’s another good one: In the afternoon, my husband was on the beach mercilessly teasing my sister-in-law and mother-in-law because they have decided they believe mermaids exist. Their scientific proof was viewed on a television show.
That night we’re playing Apples to Apples with the whole family with the exception of my sister-in-law’s boyfriend. He’s apparently holding some kind of grudge because he lost a game years ago to me over the definition of “The Big Bang Theory.”
So, while we’re playing we hear the sound of harmonious singing pouring from the open door to his room. It was like the bewitching melodies belted out by sirens, the ones who lure sailors to their deaths. The mermaids!
So, my husband says “He’s in there, unfurling his mermaid tail.”
I don’t know why, but this made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants.
I am a chortler. Maybe the occasional guffaw slips out. I NEVER laugh that hard.
I was crying, I was speaking in tongues, I was HAVING FUN.
Then there was the moment we were waiting for the trolley near a church and the truly Cuban members of the family decided to pose for a picture.
We ended up in Downtown Anna Maria Island, which for the record, does not exist. We were meandering down neighborhood streets looking like lost Okies drenched in sweat.
But, there were magical moments.
I watched my daughter discover the joy of being slammed by waves, overcoming her perpetual fear of the ocean.
I saw my son kick around a soccer ball with the big boys until sweat was dripping off his little melon head.
I saw sharks, I laughed until I cried and I drank more beer than seems humanly possible.
Yes, I was impaled nightly by little kid limbs. I spent much time trapped in bed watching PBS kid shows on the lousy cable while everyone else screamed about the World Cup downstairs.
I got a sun rash and gained five pounds. (my weird tooth issue resolved itself after days of gargling salt water)
But, it’s still the best vacation we’ve had with the kids since they were born. Good enough that my poor son is still grieving.
I am too.
We sat outside in the blistering heat so the kids could water paint.
We tormented a poor skink that was hanging out on the patio by chasing it back and forth to try and get a good look at it.
My children transformed into sloths during dinnertime.
They waded their way through the food on their plates like it was tar or quicksand.
Before bedtime, my son started to whip my arm with a pink rubber lizard and when I snatched it from him, the arm ripped off. The arm is now stuck on his wall.
At bedtime the kids took turns shouting “mommy” for no apparent reason for about an hour.
I took a day off from work the next day, so Huck decided it would be AWESOME to still wake up at 6 a.m.
He also burst into real tears when I left him at day care.
It didn’t take long to get over the guilt and have the MOST AMAZING DAY EVER.
I planted flowers, hit my favorite used book store, went to the beach, got a Coke Slurpee, got food from my favorite Mexican restaurant and watched Scandal.
I can safely say that if I hadn’t taken that day in-between I would’ve suffered a nervous breakdown by now.
The kids were total champs about dinner. They ate all of their ravioli and in a timely fashion. They even drank… drum roll… WATER!
I figured it was going to be an amazing night, but then bath time rolled around.
Alma is sitting on her brother in the tub, ridiculing his private parts, splashing me and then crying because she wants me to wrap her like a baby in her towel.
Then she actually starts whipping me with the towel. Not full-on locker room whipping, but she did nail me good one time in the eye. She responded with a sarcastic “SOOOORRRY.”
God bless my little hero, Huxley. He shouted, “No, Alma! Don’t be mean to mommy!!”
No such luck kiddo.
She was a nightmare to put to sleep. She wanted to color with markers and when she discovered the paper wrapper had fallen off of one of them she accused me (with attitude) of doing it on purpose.
She said condescendingly, “When the paper falls off, then you don’t give me THAT marker.”
I said, “I’m not doing anything for anyone who talks to me that way. Get this straight little girl, I’m your mom and you can’t talk to me like that.”
Lotta good that did. Little snot stayed up until 9:20 p.m. no matter what I did.
She’d rather color in the dark like some kind of f*&king vampire than go to sleep.
I still need to take a little time to unwind after the screaming and crying dies down, so I end up staying up way too late.
Then Huck wakes up at 5 a.m.
ALMA picked out her outfit the night before, but suddenly in the morning acts astonished that I would choose such hideous attire and forces me to dress her in the EXACT same outfit she wore two days before, including the sweater she demands to wear “because she’s cold” when it’s 90 degrees outside. I washed it, but still… nobody else knows that.
Huck is crying “No way mommy!” over and over because I won’t take him downstairs while I get Alma ready. (Which is because the day before, I took him downstairs and he cried because he was alone down there while I got Alma ready)
He cried, “I want daddy.”
Guess what? I want daddy too.
And when daddy comes home I am going to put a shock collar on him and if he ever tries to go out of town I’m gonna zap his ass.
SPECIAL NOTE: I want to give a special shout out to Olaf, Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven (or “Spen” as my daughter pronounces it) and even Prince Hans. Without them this week would not be possible. For all of you Frozen haters, this movie is the only way I have been able to do laundry, tidy the house or even bathe. I love you, Frozen.
This is my platform, so I choose today to take it a different direction. What I want to say deserves more than a one-liner on Facebook.
Your children are no longer allowed to make stupid, criminal mistakes and move on with their lives after they turn 18.
It has been a long-standing policy in television news not to name or otherwise identify juveniles who are accused of a crime. It is not illegal to show them or name them, but a matter of ethics not to.
The assumption being that children are entitled to privacy, are entitled to make horrible mistakes and not be held accountable for them by the public in their adulthood unless they choose to disclose it.
Now, we work in a newsroom divided. It is a business of blurred lines. There are those of us who believe the “rules” of covering crimes where perps are minors were protocol for a reason. There are the others who think if you’re “old enough to know better” then we can blast your ugly baby-faced mugshot (or even Facebook profile pic) for the world to see.
The first time I remember there being any debate about whether to identify a juvenile who committed a serious crime was while covering Lionel Tate.
He was 12 years old when he murdered a 6 year old girl in Broward County.
He was the youngest person in modern American history to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The justification for showing and naming Tate was that he was being charged as an adult.
That became the bar. The S.O.P.
Charged as an adult? We name you. You’re an adult according to the law now.
Sometime during the past few years, opinions started to shift in the newsroom. People started suggesting that any child who committed a crime as heinous as murder or rape could be identified.
I say “child” because you can tell where I stand on the issue. If you’re young enough to be in foster care, young enough to be required to have a guardian, young enough to not even be allowed to buy a pack of smokes… you are a child.
But, now when you kill someone you are “old enough to know better.”
Now begins the slippery slope. People are suggesting naming and showing juveniles charged with carjacking. “It was with a gun!”
I understand the frustration. It really is starting to seem like the thugs are getting younger, the crimes getting more violent.
Is showing their mugshot a deterrent? Not at all.
Is it even our responsibility to attempt to deter crime? That’s what the justice system is supposed to be for.
Is showing their mugshot informative? Not in the least.
Is showing their mugshot going to help the community? If they’re a violent criminal on the loose, perhaps. But, the cases I am referring to are generally not a “wanted murderer on the lam.”
They are children. Horrible children who will become horrible adults. Thank God they were arrested, will be charged and begin the endless cycle of arrest and release, arrest and release.
Or maybe, just maybe… they will someday realize the error of their ways and mature into normal well-adjusted people. People embarrassed by their past. People who want to contribute to society. People who don’t want it to be so easy to find their mugshot online from an arrest when they were 13 with a simple search.
I read an article about a 15-year-old girl who was convicted of smothering her four-year-old half-sister. A newspaper printed her name. The conviction was overturned and THEN they decided not to name her “because of her age.”
Too little. Too late.
I also read an article recently about an aspiring welder who started a life of crime when he was in sixth grade. During his time behind bars he ended up with tats on his face. Barely in his 20’s he went to extremes to make his mistakes less visible.
We can’t keep kids from committing horrible crimes. But, we also don’t have to leave an indelible mark that could have a shelf life even longer than a face tattoo.
You lose your rights when you break the law. But, you don’t stop being a child. That’s my view. All opinions welcome.
Dinnertime was infinitely more wild. There was some playful pummeling between kids, very little eating and some drooling and growling.
One massive melee during a tug-of-war over a stuffed Pluto that ended in crying double time-outs.
Bedtime was a cluster packed with book reading, coloring, singing and general chaos.
Sleep was interrupted at 2:30 a.m. by Huck screaming because he fell out of the bed.
2:35 a.m. screaming for water.
2:45 a.m. screaming “I’m done!” (with the water)
2:50 a.m. screaming because Pluto was stuck in the blanket.
3:00 a.m. screaming because he doesn’t want Mickey Mouse.
3:05 a.m. screaming because he wants Mickey Mouse.
Woke Huxley up from deep slumber at 6 a.m. by singing, “Do you wanna build a snowman?” from Frozen. He woke up smiling instead of crying, so this was a huge success.
Counted school buses on the way to day care. (Alma said, “They’re not going to our school. They’re going to HIGH school.”)
Children arrived on time, while I was late to work. We are all still alive.