This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva, who has some jokes she’d like to tell you.
“Daddy,” my just-turned-3-year-old daughter asked me, pointing to a Red Line train, “Is there a potty on that train?”
“Why not?” She frowned.
“Because people should potty before they leave the house, and then they can go potty when they get where they are going.”
“They should put a potty on the train.”
“Why?” I wondered through gritted teeth, knowing I wouldn’t like the answer.
She grinned from ear to ear before hitting me with a punchline only a preschooler could love… “Because then it would be a Poopy Train!” And she fell into paroxysms of laughter.
This is how it has been since she was potty trained this summer — all talk of Poop, Pee, Toilets, Panties, Diapers, and the like. Luckily she’s a girl, or I might be in for about 20 more years of this. To her it’s high comedy – the ultimate satire of the social order – a Groucho Marxian takedown of the last of our Victorian mores. To me it’s mostly gross.
So, we’ve set a rule – we only use “potty language” when we’re in the bathroom. Of course, she has taken immediate advantage of the rule. Every time we rush to the potty:
“Daddy, are we in the bathroom now?”
“Yes, Viva, we’re in the bathroom now. Why?” But I know why.
Because poopy, indeed.
There’s no lyric in my daughter’s world that can’t be improved by swapping out some of the words with potty language. This week I’ve been treated to rousing renditions of “Say Something I’m Giving Up on Poopy,” “Haters Gonna Potty, Potty, Potty, Potty, Potty” and the immortal “I’m All About That Pee (No Poopy).” All right, some of those are an improvement.
Freud wrote about the “Anal Stage,” the second stage of psychosexual development, when children 18 months to 3 years develop their personality and habits based on the way their parents treated them when they learned to go “number 2.” Freud was gross and weird. He did get one thing right, though – young 3s are pretty fixated on the glossary of the outhouse.
I’m not really sure how much longer we’re going to be treated to this kind of talk in the bathroom, and we need to constantly remind her that our guest bath (where her Froggy Potty lives) is the only lounge in town where she’s able to perform her particular brand of scatological yuk-yuks. Hopefully she’ll get bored of the shock humor – but she might just end up having groups of other 3-year-olds come in and listen to the jokes – she’s up to about a 20-minute set these days.
“You hear the one about the poopy, Daddy?”
“Yes. Yes, I did. But I bet I’m going to hear it again.”
We didn’t encourage this type of behavior. We’re fairly prudish when it comes to the bathroom, and we don’t tell these types of jokes ourselves or encourage the laughter, but this only reinforces how subversive and powerful this kind of speech can be. Every time we cringe or scold her for a …
(sigh) “Poopy who?”
… We know we’re just in for some more the next time we escort her to the head.
So, we’re “damned if we do, damned if we don’t.” If she knows we don’t like the scatology, we’re in for more of it. If we laugh at it, we’re in for WAY more of it. We’re wishing it away, but no luck so far. And if she starts hearing other kids making similar jokes, we’re really in for it – she’ll soon discover that potty talk is the Lingua Franca of little kids rebelling against “The Man.”
… and while the Red Line might not actually be called “The Poopy Train” as my daughter had hoped — someday she’ll ride it on a Saturday night or after a Cubs game and realize that she’s not that far off.
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