“Party Pooper” by Janine Annett
Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.
This week, Janine Annett’s son goes through a phase.
by Janine Annett
Two to three
Potty training is a bitch. It should be easy, right? How hard could it actually be?
When we were in the midst of potty training, I described some of the antics and challenges to someone who responded, “It’s kind of like you’re living in a preschool frat house!” Just substitute juice boxes for beer.
It’s now been a few years since we finished potty training (more or less), so it’s hard to remember exactly when it all began and when he moved one from one phase to the next. One thing I remember clearly, though, is the “party pooper” phase.
My son never wanted to go to the bathroom in a child’s training potty. He wasn’t ready to use the big potty. He wasn’t ready . . . he still wasn’t ready . . . and suddenly, he was ready, and he just did it. I remember a week after he was peeing on the toilet sitting down, he was peeing standing up. Obviously, he didn’t learn that from me. I’m sure he’d seen Daddy do it as well as other kids at preschool. He was in pull-ups for a while, then “big boy” underwear for short periods of time, and then longer periods of time. Then he didn’t want to wear pull-ups—only underwear.
So he got the hang of peeing in the potty, but pooping was still an issue. We encouraged. We cajoled. We offered options. We offered promises of treats —okay, some might say bribes. We read books with titles like Bloop, Bloop! Goes the Poop and The Potty Train and Even Firefighters Go to the Potty. For a while, he would pee in the potty but poop in a pull-up. He occasionally pooped in his underwear. He would not, could not poop on the potty, but was stubbornly insisting on wearing underwear and knew he wasn’t “supposed to” poop in it.
One time, when he got mad at my husband about something, he insulted him by saying, “You poop in your pants like a baby!” Another time, he was at a playground and said, “Maybe if I go down this slide, the poop will go away.” Did he need to use the bathroom? No, he insisted. He was taken to the bathroom anyway. Nothing happened. He ran around the playground, having fun, and minutes later announced, “I pooped in my pants.”
Upon talking to the pediatrician and other parent friends about the poop withholding, I found out this was a very common occurrence. Patience and time would resolve the issue. In the meantime, though, it could get very frustrating for him, and for us, the parents.
After holding in his poop for days at a time, my son would finally let it out when he was so relaxed that he forgot to hold it in. That usually happened in his sleep. He was still sleeping in a pull-up. My husband used to open our son’s bedroom door after he’d fallen asleep and exclaim, “The Night Pooper has struck again!”
There was one other time that my son would reliably let the poop go, and that was at parties. He loved—still loves—a good party. He’s the party animal of the pre-K set. He is known for his ability to party hard, double-fisting juice boxes like there’s no tomorrow, absconding with cookies, and running around like a maniac. During his potty-training/poop-holding phase—which coincided with peak holiday party time—he’d show up at a party, get really relaxed while running around with friends, and suddenly he’d pause. Sometimes there would be a grunt, but often there was no warning. He’d announce, “I pooped in my pants.” We began bringing changes of clothes for him to parties. We’d forewarn the hosts, “He’s literally a party pooper.”
Of course, the party pooper phase came to an end. My son now successfully poops in a toilet and avoids pooping in his pants at parties and other social occasions. The party pooper is no more, but the party animal remains.
JANINE ANNETT has been sporadically published in various online and print outlets and is a mom to one human being and one feline. She holds a BA in English and hopes to turn a version of this story into a children’s book. She lives just outside of New York City with her son, husband, and cat. Follow Janine on Twitter at @janineannett.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Mar 22, 2016
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