Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Who Stole My Pants?

I believe that at some point in my family's lineage, an unsuspecting and dimwitted gal with a penchant for very hairy men accidentally mated with a rather handsome baboon.  The resulting genes lay dormant for generations, finally manifesting themselves in my offspring.

This seems to be the only logical cause for my children's animal-like behavior.  What else could explain their tendencies to bang their large craniums against walls for fun and take howling leaps from sofas and easy chairs—occasionally swinging from unfortunately placed window treatments?
At any rate, it became apparent early in their lives that they needed outlets where they could express their, uh, urges.  Someone suggested enrolling them in swim class, and while the idea of squeezing my embarrassingly jiggly post-preggo body into a bathing suit went against all of my personal primal instincts, I thought it might actually be beneficial for the kids.

So now, every week I schlep the little monkeys down to the local swim center, where I spend fifteen minutes before class trying to wrangle them—and myself—into swimsuits, and at least another half an hour after class trying to wrestle everybody back out of them.  And undoubtedly, while am I frantically peeling the swimsuit off of one little monster, the other is shutting himself in a swim locker, wriggling under the bathroom door to peek at some poor mom in a stall, or twisting himself up in a shower curtain to see how tight he can wind it before the whole assembly comes crashing down.

This past week was no different.

I had just finished dressing my daughter and was trying as quickly as possible to gather my own clothes so I could be dressed in case I needed to chase my naked son down the hallway.  I plopped my son's clothes on a bench, told him to keep an eye on his sister (he's actually pretty good at this, as he relishes any opportunity to tattle on her and get her in trouble), and shut myself in a bathroom stall to dress.

As I began to strip off my suit, I heard the telltale giggles and shrieks that meant my son was up to no good.  I peeked out of the stall and saw him streaking back and forth in the locker room, completely naked.  My daughter was running after him, laughing and squealing.  The other moms were carefully trying to stay out of the way as they hurriedly dressed their own calm and compliant children, packed their bags and made their escape. 

I ducked back into the stall and frantically threw my shirt on.  I was pulling on my pants when my patience abruptly ran out.  I was tired of being laughed at...tired of being on the receiving end of pitying looks, and sick of feeling like I might just be a good candidate for the Super Nanny.

I steeled my resolve, and in my most intimidating voice hollered "Evan, if you aren't getting dressed when I come out of this bathroom you are in big trouble!  I mean it!  Get dressed—NOW!" 

The giggles abruptly stopped. There was a pause, and after a moment of silence, Evan said, "Mommy, where are my clothes?" 

Gathering up my swimsuit and towel, I called back out to him, "They're on the bench!"

"Um, no they're not."

I sighed in frustration.

When I emerged from the stall, I found my daughter three feet off the ground, giggling and jumping up and down on top of the row of sinks.  My son—still naked—was looking around for his clothing.  I was about to yell at him for letting his sister climb up onto the sinks when I saw that he was visibly upset.

"Mommy—my clothes are gone!" Evan wailed.  He was getting red in the face and beginning to cry.  I told him to calm down and assured him that his clothing had probably just gotten moved around in the shuffle.  We looked under the benches and asked the only mom still remaining if she might have accidentally scooped up my son's clothes.  She searched her bag, but came up empty.

We took everything out of our swim bag and shook out the towels.  We looked in the lockers and the showers.  We searched the bathroom stalls.  Evan's clothes were gone.  My mind flashed back to the image of the ladies frantically gathering their things to avoid getting run over by one of my insane children.  One of the moms must have accidentally scooped up my son's clothing!

I started to panic.  What was Evan going to wear?  It was cold and raining outside and I didn't have an extra change of clothes for him.  Fortunately whoever wandered off with his clothing had left Evan's socks and shoes—so Evan could walk to the car at least—but I was stumped as to what I was going to do about the rest of him.

The solution hit me like a lightning bolt, and for the first time ever I was actually grateful that I had gone out in public in my frumpy stay-at-home mom attire.  I had thrown an over-sized, dumpy sweatshirt on top of my tee shirt because it was so damp that day, and I immediately knew this was my solution.

I stripped off the sweatshirt and told Evan he could wear it; I would be fine in my tee shirt.  Evan screwed up his face—he gave me the same look of distaste that my husband sports when I suggest he wear a plaid shirt embroidered with smiling pineapples on vacation. "I don't want to wear that!" Evan wailed. 

"But honey, you don't have anything else to wear," I said, trying desperately to remain calm for my son's sake.  "Just pretend it's a big fuzzy blanket."  Evan burst into tears—he sobbed and begged me to  find his clothes.  I said that the best I could do was to leave my name and number at the front desk and hope that the unwitting thief would call as soon as she realized she had our clothing.  He wasn't happy with this answer, but he resigned himself to doing what was necessary.  

I stuffed the sweatshirt over his head and tugged it down as far as it would go.  Evan sniffled, looked down at his naked legs, and wailed "I want my pants!  Who stole may paaaants!!?"  Then he dissolved into tears again.

Given my son's fondness for public nudity, I was rather surprised to find him so visibly shaken by the turn of events. I briefly thought of using the opportunity as a teachable moment and doing the whole, "This is why we don't run around like crazy people in the locker room" speech, but I just didn't have the heart.  He felt terrible enough already. 

We hurried out to the car after leaving our information with the receptionist, and somehow I managed to buckle him into his car seat without pinching his delicate, exposed boy parts in the harness clip.  I put a video on in the van in hopes of distracting my son from the current situation, but when my cellphone rang, Evan sat up straight and snapped to attention.  "I think that's the person who stole my pants!" he shouted.  "Let's go get 'em!"

As you've probably already guessed, it was not the pants burglar calling. 

My son returned home with his proverbial tail between his legs. 

He was clearly hoping for some sympathy from his Daddy, so when my husband laughed about it and tried to convince Evan of how darn funny the whole thing was, my son just sulked and stomped off.  Fortunately Evan hasn't mentioned the incident since that night, and I'm glad for that—hopefully this won't traumatize the poor kid for life.

But as I examine this photo of him in my gigantic sweatshirt, I think I might see a bright side: if Evan ever needed to be in drag, he could probably rock a dress pretty convincingly.

He's got the legs for it, I think!
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Nudist

For some reason, my four-year-old boy seems to be allergic to wearing pants.  Underwear too, for that matter.

I've heard of kids who spontaneously strip off their clothes at random and inappropriate times, and I suppose I should be grateful that he's not doing that.  Instead, he chooses to express his disdain for covering his privates by getting conveniently distracted while changing.  He'll take his pajama pants and Pull-Up off in the morning, but then he just never seems to get around to putting any underwear or pants on. 

This isn't so much of a big deal on weekdays, when he has to hustle to get dressed so he can be taken to preschool, but on the weekends he seems to believe that the house is his own private nudist resort. 

On Saturday mornings it's not uncommon to find him jumping up and down on the easy chair with just his pajama-shirt on and his "parts" merrily flapping about.  One would think it would be uncomfortable to have all that floppage, but apparently he gets a kick out of it.  I'm glad he enjoys himself, but I just wish he'd engage in an activity that was a tad more visually appealing for the rest of us.

My husband is even more put off by Evan's behavior than I am; while I find it merely distasteful to see my son's privates displaying themselves at every turn, my husband sees Evan's nakedness as a general threat to the safety and cleanliness of our home.

On weekends I will hear my husband holler repeatedly, "Evan!  Don't sit down on the sofa with your naked butt!  Your butt is dirty!  For God's sake, put some underwear on before you sit on anything!"

This tactic is usually counterproductive, as my son finds it tremendously amusing to get his daddy riled up.  So he'll stall and come up with odd positions to sit in where his bum isn't actually touching the sofa, which just annoys my husband even more.

And thus, the weekends turn into the nudey-wars at our house.

Notice the naked bum, not in contact with the sofa.
Evan's nudist tendencies manifest themselves outside the home as well.  Recently, when he had to go to the hospital for a procedure, he adamantly refused to wear the little kiddie hospital pants that went with the cute little hospital shirt.  Despite the nurses' insistence that he would be cold, my son stubbornly shunned the pants, claiming that he was fine with just the tiny shirt that stopped at his belly-button.  He paraded down the halls proudly, getting odd looks from passersby, while I held the hospital pants in my hand and returned people's confused expressions with a look that I hoped said, "I tried to get him to wear them, but what can I do?"

One nurse joked that I will inevitably receive an angry call someday from Evan's college dean, telling me that my son has gotten in trouble for streaking naked across campus. 
Truth be told, I am a bit worried that one day my son is going to offend someone with his shameless displays. After swim class the other day, Evan stripped off his suit and began singing and prancing about the locker room—completely naked.  While I struggled to wrestle my daughter out of her suit, my son ran up to the other moms, turned his naked butt in their direction and shouted "I fart on you!"

He then erupted into maniacal giggles and shut himself inside one of the swim lockers.

"I'm so sorry," I babbled to the ladies, "I think he's part baboon..."

"Well, I think it's nice that he's so comfortable with himself!" a kind grandmother said, although I have reason to believe she was merely taking pity on me.

To make matters worse, I'm convinced Evan is deliberately upping the ante with his naked cavorting, engaging in more bizarre and dangerous behaviors to shock my husband and me.  This past weekend he happily plopped his naked bottom on the Sit-and-Spin, and when my hubby yelled at him for putting his bare butt on the toy, Evan said, "Fine, then, I'll just do this!"  And he stood up and started spinning.  

Needless to say, this turn of events went over like a lead balloon.  My hubby immediately started yelling at him, "Evan!  That's not safe!  You can't spin on that standing up!  Get off of that and put some pants on!"

Evan responded to this by kneeling down and continuing to spin. 

"Look, Daddy, I'm not standing anymore!"
My husband let out an annoyed huff and glared at me.  "Why are you taking pictures?  You're just encouraging him!" he hollered. 

I shrugged.  In all honestly, I do find Evan's antics somewhat hilarious.  If you've never seen a four-year-old bent over the wheel of a Sit-and-Spin, turning around and around with his naked rump in the air, then you should stop by my house on a Saturday morning sometime—it's definitely something you should observe at least once in your lifetime.  How could I not take pictures of something so ridiculous?

At any rate, I think justice will be mine in the end; my hubby will undoubtedly forgive me when Evan turns sixteen and my husband discovers how useful the pictures will be for blackmail purposes.  After all, if we have to stare at my son's bare bottom for the next ten years until Evan realizes that civilized people wear clothes, we should at least get some mileage out of it.     

And I have a very special scrapbook planned.  Just wait until he brings home his first girlfriend!
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Potty Humor

My son is a VERY strong-willed boy.  This is particularly true when it comes to the issue of potty training.

It's pretty much guaranteed that if someone suggests that he should use the potty, he will stubbornly insist that he does not have to go.  It doesn't matter that he can barely speak, his legs are firmly crossed, and he is pink in the face and hopping up and down... he will grunt out some excuse about just wanting to "take a break" from playing to stand in a random corner behind some shrubbery and look at the plants.  If you press him about it, he will yell at you and explain that he is not hiding because he has to go; he is merely pondering the unique idiosyncrasies of the holly bush.

This had made for a generally hellish potty training experience.  We've tried incentives like stickers, treats, stamps, charts—even money or trips to the Dollar Store.  Each incentive works for about three days, after which time my son decides he'd rather go through the day in wet underpants than suffer the indignity of having his daddy tell him when to pee.

"But I don't want to go potty!"
To be fair, it isn't entirely his fault.  He has some sort of sensory issue which makes it difficult for him to tell when his bladder is full.  It also makes it difficult for him to empty his bladder properly.  He briefly went through physical therapy for this, during which time we accompanied him to the potty and attempted to engage him in ridiculous breathing exercises to relax his pelvic muscles.  The "pretend you're blowing out candles on a cake!" trick worked for the predictable three day period, after which time he decided it was stupid and started refusing to use the toilet again.

We have seen doctors and counselors, and the general consensus now is to just let him be—that eventually he'll grow out of it and will go potty consistently on his own.  Alas, we are still waiting for that glorious day.

So you can imagine my delight when my daughter—who hasn't formally started potty training yet—recently announced that she had to poop, marched herself to the bathroom and happily hopped on the potty of her own accord.  (Yeah, I know we're perhaps potty training her a little late, but we're trying a lower-pressure approach than we used with our son in the hopes that she won't become oppositional about it too!)

She sat on the toilet with a huge grin on her face and congratulated herself, clapping and saying "Good job!"  I did a little happy dance and praised her enthusiastically—perhaps we would be mercifully spared the nightmare that we are enduring with our son!!

Look how happy she is!
Unfortunately it doesn't look like it's going to be quite the cakewalk we'd hoped.

The other night my husband was getting the kids ready for their bath, and he took my daughter's pants and diaper off but then got distracted and left her to run about upstairs with no bottoms on.  I caught her standing on her brother's bed, grunting purposefully.

"Clara, do you have to poop?" I asked cheerfully.  I then noticed that she wasn't wearing a diaper, and that she was standing on my son's pillow.  Scooping her up in a panic, I ran to the bathroom and plopped her on the potty just in time for a teensy bit of poo to fall in.  I breathed a sigh of relief. Clara smiled at me and announced that she was "All done!"

I was doubtful; although she clapped her hands, congratulated herself, and squirmed to get off the potty, I was not convinced that it had been a "complete performance."

I had just started encouraging her to try some more when my husband appeared in the doorway to help me with my cause.  He said, "Clara, push!!"... and then he screwed up his face, balled up his fists, and began grunting in an embarrassing manner.  My daughter was thoroughly entertained by this, but I was a tad disturbed—it was overwhelmingly odd to see my husband engaged in theatrics that suggested he might be giving birth.

Despite his spirited efforts, Clara again insisted she was done, so I cleaned her bum, congratulated her and sent her on her way—which was presumably to see my husband, who I thought was waiting for her with a diaper.

Alas, when I finished washing my hands and went to my son's room to see how the diapering was going, my husband was nowhere to be found.  I saw only Clara, who was bending down and carefully picking something up off the floor.  She turned and held it out to me.

My brain was a tad slow in comprehending what I was seeing.  Clara was surrounded by poop.  She had a nugget of poo clutched in her paw and was contemplating it with fascination, and when she saw me in the doorway she held the ball of poo aloft and said merrily, "What's this?  Treat?"

I recovered and shouted something like, "Oh my GOD, Oh my God!!"... at which point Clara caught my meaning and dropped the poo ball like a hot, smelly potato.  "Oh my God!  Honey!!!" I screamed.  He was downstairs again.  "Get up here right now!  Your daughter pooped on the floor!  She had some in her hand!  And now she's touching Evan's toys!  Get up here!!!"

My husband showed up at the door wearing a look of disdain.  "I had a feeling this was going to happen," he said regretfully.  I wanted to scream, "Then why did you walk away from her again?!" but I bit my tongue.  I needed his help.

He cleaned Clara up, and I disposed of the poo balls that were strewn across the floor like freakishly large mutant-rat droppings before frantically dousing the carpet and surrounding areas with Lysol.  I sprayed some lavender-scented mist in my son's room so it wouldn't smell like a chemical factory, or worse—a sewage treatment plant.

I got my daughter to bed and went downstairs to stew.  I was rather furious with my hubby.  After all, who in his right mind walks away from a toddler with no diaper on... twice?  I was in the midst of rehearsing some choice words in my head when I heard him holler "AAAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!  EVAN!!!"

He came rushing down the stairs and shouted at me, "Your son just peed on the carpet!!!"

I had to stifle a giggle.  Justice is sweet.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Naw.... there's no way that all happened in one evening.  She's making this up."  I assure you, I am not making this up—this is exactly how the evening unfolded.   Frankly, it makes me thankful for the years I spent taking care of multiple cats, during which time I cleaned more than my share of poop, pee, and vomit out of the carpets.  If it weren't for those years of experience, I'm not sure I'd have the constitution for this whole messy process of potty training.

Of course it helps to keep a sense of humor through the whole thing, and to remember that, unlike cats, the children will grow up and stop having accidents in their own time.  Until then, it might be wise to at least invest in some HAZMAT suits, and perhaps some litter boxes and piddle pads to leave in strategic locations of the house.

At any rate, I hope my kids get their act together soon.  Our potty is feeling quite rejected, and I'm not sure its self-esteem will ever recover!

You've got to admit—that's some good potty humor!

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