Bathroom Humor: A Parent’s Conundrum

Kids are funny. Though almost never on purpose – their jokes are terrible and they have essentially no sense of comedic timing. But they say and do all kind of ridiculous things thant make you laugh. On one hand, this makes parenting very entertaining. On the other, there are many times when you can’t laugh at your kids. There are also some topics that you can’t laugh at. These worlds collide in the bathroom.

We have been trying to stop our kids from asking for a thousand different things after we’ve tucked them in for bed with little success. On an average night, my daughters will ask for a drink of water, the fan turned on, the fan turned off, music turned on, lotion put on, a tissue, ask to go to the bathroom. Naturally, these requests never come in combination, and neither child asks for something at the same time as their sister. To put a stop to this, we’ve established that they don’t need to ask to go to the bathroom and we are really encouraging them to take care of everything themselves. We find that they don’t really need help wiping, it just depends on if they are in the mood to do it themselves. It is a big step for a parent when poop removal no longer takes up so much of your day.

Last night my three year-old daugher Evie did it almost perfect. Without saying a word, she got out of bed, went into the bathroom, and started to take care of business all by herself. Then she called for me. For no particular reason, she used what I assume was her interpretation of a southern accent that boarded on a terrible Forrest Gump impression.

Evie: “Da-day”

At first I ignore her. I need to stick to my guns to break these bad habits, and I find that ignoring your children can be a really effective parenting technique in most situations.

Evie: “Da-day. Da-day. Da-day.”

Her repeating this in consistent intervals was enough to get a response, but I sure wasn’t going to get up off the couch.

Me: “What?”

Evie: “Da-day!”

Me: “What?!”

Evie: “I have pewp on my un-days.”

Me: “Why?!” I asked legitimatly scared of the responce.

Evie: “I tooted and some pewp got on my un-days.” She stated very matter of factly in her newly aquired faux southern drawl.

I looked at my wife, she looked at me, and we lost it. I broke like Jimmy Falon in Debbie Downer. I couldn’t go help her while failing to hold back laughter with tears in my eyes. I needed to treat this like a normal, no big deal thing that sometimes can happen. I coudn’t embarrass her, or even worse, give her some kind of signal of encouragment that sharts were funny and should become a normal part of the bedtime routine.

Also, you can’t let kids know that poop actually is quite funny. This is one of the bigger challenges in parenting. You need to treat bodily things very matter-of-factly. You don’t want them to talk about them, but you also don’t want them to feel ashamed to talk about them, but they have to talk about them in the right time and place and with the right people. So even though its funny, it can’t be funny, and even though its ok to talk about it, you better not talk about it dinner. Or breakfast. Or church. Or the grocery story. Or school. But its natural and normal. But don’t do it whenver you feel like it. Who knew poop talk would be such a fine line to walk?

And I wonder, at what point can we inform our kids that poop humor is not only acceptable, but hilarious? Perhaps this would be a good time to point out that I have the sense of humor of a twelve year-old. In the process of my maturity and development my sense of humor stopped while the rest of me kept going. Apparently, after listening to The Goat while I was in the seventh grade my sense of humor was like, “Ya know what, I’m good here. The rest of Pat, you keep going, but don’t wait for me.” For a few years my metabolism stayed behind to keep my sense of humor company, but he came sprining to catch up. So here I am now – poop is funny but the prospect of digesting a Whopper is no laughing matter.

Anyway, I dug deep, I bit my lip, I focused on the task at hand. Much like my daughter just did. (See, poop jokes are funny!). I collected myself to aid my child in her time of need. And like every good story, this one has happy ending – there was nothing on her undies. I assume for a moment my child chose to embody an old gentile southern belle with irratable bowl syndrome. Oh the imagination kids have!

I still don’t know when the right age is for it to be ok for kids to see the humor in poop, but I sure to hope it is before my daughter is old enough to read this.

Daddy loves you, Peanut.

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