Fact: Nobody wants to hear about potty training. Even though it's arguably one of the biggest milestones in a human's life ever — not pissing/crapping yourself for at least some period of time is basically a requirement to be in the autonomous world, without which it would be pretty darn hard to accomplish other things, like hitting a home run or winning a dance contest. And yet, we take one look at parents beaming with pride over the contents of their little ones' lil' shitters and send one message: STFU. Sometimes it's even a preemptive STFU, like a (shit-free?) friend of mine's recent Facebook status update, which warned: "Enough with the detailed potty training posts! Join a mom group or something and tell them about it."
I laughed because, first of all, what exactly is a "detailed" potty training post? More info plz?
"Little Jimmy pushed his poop out at approximately 3:48 p.m. today grunting only twice and producing a gorgeous, honey-colored turd." By contrast, what is a "vague," ostensibly more acceptable potty training post? "Little Jimmy was so good at doing that thing we're teaching him. Yay!"
Do people actually care what anyone posts on Facebook? Are people still being prescriptive about it? And moreover, I will absolutely zero-fucking-not take your suggestion to join what you call a "mom group" anymore than you will probably join a "Group for People Who Avoid the Uncomfortable Reality of Being Human Because It Sorta Bothers You But In a Clearly Not-Thought–Out Way and Yet You Have No Trouble Telling Other People What They Can or Cannot Say." Totally still friends, tho.*
Oh I know what everyone is gonna say: "Who wants to look at any shit, much less your kid's shit? Who wants to hear about shitting, even so much as a reference to it? I can barely shit on my own without feeling bad about it, how dare you expect me to be excited about someone else's shit, someone I probably don't even know, someone who doesn't even know me, and someone who will never, ever be excited about my shit? I spent my whole life avoiding my own shit, so don't make me confront yours. Also, fuck you."
Hey, I'll admit it: That's a tough argument to tackle, as arguments go. But in the name of potty training children and the parents smelling their shit everywhere, I must try. Here goes.
1. As mentioned already, not pissing/shitting yourself is a requirement to be in the world. Look around, among all the things you are most grateful for in society — park benches or pour-over coffee or laws that prevent people from just walking up to you a shoving a hot dog up your nose — I bet you are really, really, super extra forever-ever jazzed that most people near you aren't just sitting around shitting themselves. That would be gross? Hard to like? Hard to love! If you think about it, you actually love the shit out of that shit (that you don't have to be around). Ahem, that's potty training. Someone did that — for you, too. Dig?
2. Picture a world where everyone never learned how not to shit themselves. For one thing, there would certainly be no Facebook in that world, friend. Remember how it was way back in the late 1800s when cities relied completely on horsepower for everything and the streets were swimming in manure and it was the grodiest gross-trosity anyone ever knew about? It would be like that but a bajillion times grosser. Everyone definitely hated that. But you know what they did? They TALKED ABOUT IT. You know what they said? How can we not be around horse shit anymore? Things would be so much more fun not around horse shit. We're not so crazy about the horse shit with the smell and the flies? Let's figure it out. Let's make cars, or whatever. But again, they had to say words, out loud, about the shit. No one was like, shut the fuck up about the horse shit, and just go get rid of it.
3. Oh, you're not saying we shouldn't talk about it? You're just saying not with you? I mean, who are you, anyway? This person who thinks you shouldn't have to know about stuff you don't like? I just don't understand where this world is where I can go and magically I don't have to know that people throw up or maggots exist or there's gross things that can happen when you get a pedicure at a disreputable salon or whatever, or those turtles with the freaking eggs in their backs that make me want to die. I just look around and go, yeah, the world, that's the world. I never go, "OH SHUT IT DOWN, NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT IT."
4. Did you know that a kid can't even go to most preschools until they've learned how to not piss/shit themselves? Did you know that even if the kid learns to not shit or piss themselves that the preschool won't be like, "good job" and wipe their ass or whatever, that the kid has to learn to both not piss/shit and ALSO wipe own ass/bottom? Like, by the time they are like, 3 years old. Do you know any 3 year olds? They are into whales. Not ass-wiping. Whales.
5. I don't know if you know this but it's hard to potty train. It can take a while. Toddlers don't always get it right away? You know how you start potty training? One method involves basically letting a kid just piss and shit themselves. And showing them that it's uncomfortable when that happens, and giving them agency to be a part of the solution. Kind of like with the cities and the horse shit? The parents have no choice but to throw in and invest heavily with both time and resources and energy and giving a shit in this endeavor. You can't fuck this up, you know? You can't dick around. You're sitting on a ticking time bomb here, and it's called, Uh-oh You Fucked Up, Your Child Still Shits/Pisses Him/Herself. NO MORE PLAYDATES.
6. Considering all the above, you seriously think the occasional Facebook status update ain't gonna slip out? You spend weeks and months and years even hanging around waiting on shit and piss — with a relentlessly positive attitude! — because potty training works on motivation. You try applauding a small person for every single release of liquid and/or solid in the correct direction and please, do tell me whether or not it doesn't work its way into your own social media page, the one you signed up for on the agreement that you use it to TALK ABOUT HOW YOU SPEND YOUR TIME.
7. Because it apparently needs repeating: People have children and those children shit themselves. I don't mean to make it personal, but remember how you used to shit yourself? Like, a lot? Like for YEARS. And someone not only applauded you for shitting yourself during those initial years, because that's good, too, but then also for not shitting yourself. And probably was like, really proud and happy about it? And some asshole was like, "Enough with the piss and shit already" to your parents. And then that asshole literally walked into a bathroom and took a piss and/or shit into a bowl all by themselves like no one taught them how to do it. The mind reels.
8. Fine, look, maybe we've just reached an impasse here. You know? Maybe we can work something out here. Maybe — just maybe — we can reach some kind of agreement. We let you talk about your figurative shit; let us talk about the literal shit. You could even start acting like teaching someone not to piss and shit themselves is an actual thing worth doing in the world, because, village and all that, and plus whether you know it or not, you're invested in this outcome, too, what with your mostly other-people's-shit-free life. And we, in return, promise four turds max, six pees and a total of 10 status updates over the course of the entire potty training experience. Even if takes two whole years, that's all we get. Look, we may be the idiots clapping wildly at our children's excrement, but we're not animals.
*For the record, I have never once, not even sorta, posted on any social media about my child's potty training habits, or lack thereof, or progress, or my high hopes for that event. However, I still stand behind the argument that if it slipped its way in, I would hope to god people would recognize that in some small way, every child's poop directly into a potty is not just one small step for that child and that child's family, but one small step for all of humanity.