It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Boys will be Boys. Darn it.

“Mary? Mary, the toy-yet is broken.”

These are not words to lift a caregiver’s heart. “Broken? What do you mean, broken?” But of course, I’m already on my way, fearing the worse. Optimist that I am, I’m doing a mental silver lining check as I pound up the stairs*: I don’t hear running water. I haven’t heard a crash or a thud, either. Both good. But broken?

The girl has been upstairs rather longer than usual. Could she have done something? But she’s a fine-boned three-year-old and it’s a hulking, thirty-year-old toilet. They built things to LAST back then. (Which is unfortunate, given that it’s robin’s-egg-blue…) Can’t see it, somehow.

I arrive in the bathroom to see the “broken” toilet. Ah.

When Malli uses the toilet, she puts a small padded toilet ring, a cushy, brightly-patterned mini-seat atop the full-size seat. This gives her a little added security, lets her relax enough for anything to happen, and ensures that cute little tush doesn’t get an unexpected baptism.

Malli has attempted to place the toilet ring over the bowl, but it sits oddly askew. Thank the lord she hasn’t tried to sit on that thing, for it and she would surely have ended up in the water. The problem?

The seat is up. I know the culprit: 5-year-old George, a Big Boy. Surely he’s standing to pee these days, and just as surely has absorbed the Big Boy Bad Habit of leaving the seat up.


“See? It broken.”

“It’s not broken, lovie. The seat just isn’t where it should be.” I lift the seat down, place the ring in place, and…

Now I hear water running.

“I did a peepee.”

She surely did. She stands in an ever-increasing puddle, her Snow White panties in a sodden knot at her knees, her frilly pink socks wilting badly. Thankfully her gorgeous dress (Queen of the Beautiful Summer Playdress is Malli) is unpiddled. It is the work of moments to clean her, mop the floor. A quick trip down and back up again** with fresh panties and socks, a quick trip to the basement*** to toss the wet ones into the laundry that’s currently chugging away. (Yes, I do sometimes launder the kids clothes. Because I’m a Very Nice Caregiver.)

The wonder is, that with two brothers and a father in her house, Malli has not seen this before… Could they be better socialized than George? (Knowing what I do of the juvenile male populations of both households, I don’t believe this for a second.) Perhaps the females in Malli’s house have their own bathroom? That’s more believable. A matter of survival…

Downstairs, I explain to George.

“When you finish peeing, you must put the seat down.”

He looks baffled (true male that he is) so I explain. “When you poop, you need to sit. When girls pee and poop, they need to sit. So, most of the time, the seat needs to be down. Please remember to put it down, okay?”

He nods. Generally, when presented with the rationale for a request, George is amenable. He’s also very smart, and conscientious to boot, and so rarely needs a reminder. Which is why I’m surprised later that afternoon when Malli calls from upstairs.

“Mary, the toy-yet won’t work!”

Up I race again.**** Once again Malli stands at the ready, Sesame Street undergarments at her knees, toilet ring once more sitting askew atop — the lid of the toilet.

I told you he was conscientious.

I told him “put the seat down”, he put the seat down. AND the lid. For good measure? Just to be sure? Because he doesn’t know the vocabulary?

I put the lid up, the seat down, the toilet ring in place…

and I hear water running.

*Trip #1, 15 steps
** Trips 2 and 3, 30 steps
***Trips 4, 15 steps to main level, and 5, 36 steps to basement and back to main level
****Trip 6, 15 steps.
This does not include the 15 other trips I make upstairs and back in a day. It is sheerest injustice that my thighs and backside are anything less than iron-hard and wobble-free. It truly is.

July 24, 2007 - Posted by | Malli, potty tales, socializing


  1. It is said that the average housewife walks about ten miles a day during her daily routine.

    I can only imagine how many miles you cover!

    Sweet George, poor Malli…how cute.

    Comment by Sheri | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  2. Awwwww. Thank dog my dh is well-socialized that way. I’ve even trained him to close the lid, because the water/urine fine mist produced when one flushes icks me out. Wonder if that will be an issue for my little bit when we start in about a week?

    Speaking of, please, more stories of training Mali, please! I’m starting with Maya next week, once we’re finally done with our whirlwind summer of travel. She’s physically there. Psychologically? Not interested in the least, but *I* am ready, *&^% it.

    Comment by Allison | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  3. Poor Mali. Just when she thinks she’s got everything under control, a boy has to put a wrench in it.

    Somehow, I’ve lucked out, and Ian will just sit on the big potty and balance. No extra ring needed. He sits backwards and hangs on.

    Comment by mamacita tina | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  4. Oh no! Poor Malli, trying so hard and yet not quite making it. Misterpie is good about the seat, but I kept hearing these huge crashes, as Pumpkinpie would “put” the top down so she could climb up on top. I was starting to think she’d break the whole thing (which is, after all, porcelain), so she has now grasped the whole idea of doing it gently, which I am most pleased with.

    Comment by kittenpie | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  5. 🙂 This was a perfect potty training post! I am starting to potty train my 11 month old and this opened my eyes to some “excitement” to come! What a sweetie George was! And I know what you mean about the steps. Those walking to lose weight programs are a bunch of bologne! If that’s all it took I’d be tinier than a toothpick!

    Comment by Carissa | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  6. At least George didn’t pee all over the seat. Leaving the seat up may be inconvenient, but it’s far more pleasant to put the seat back down than the mop up the results of the latter.

    Count your blessings :D.

    Comment by Knotwurth Mentioning | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  7. Sheri: Hmm. That’s probably a comforting stat to have under one’s belt, but given how much the “average” housewife drives everywhere NOT inside her house, I, frankly, doubt it. I doubt I make ten miles a day, and I walk everywhere. Inside and out…

    Allison: Malli is trained already. It took about, oh, 27 minutes? So not much assistance there, really. But seriously, when the child is ready and the parent(s) go at it in a focussed manner, the whole daytime training can be done in less than a week or ten days. Night-times can take a little longer. If you’re not that obsessive about it, it can still be done easily within a month – but the key is that the kid is on-side.

    You can *get* her on-side with the judicious use of praise and jubilation (lots and lots of!!). And candy. 🙂

    MamacitaTina: I use the backward sitting intermittently. I’m not sure if I have any reason for being inconsistent with it – maybe I’ll remember why when next I try it!! But Malli likes her seat, and can put it in place herself, so it’s working for us. Just so long as George doesn’t mess with her system!

    Kittenpie: Climb on top to go where?

    Carissa: Welcome! Have you commented before? I don’t recognize your name.

    What method are you using to train a child so young? I’m curious.

    Knotwurth: Um, you’re assuming that my only choices are a) George standing with the seat up and b) George standing with the seat down.


    The little dork doesn’t remember to put the seat down, he’ll be SITTING from here on it.

    So there. It is not a slur on his masculinity, only on his level of awareness and CONSIDERATION.

    So there, there…

    Comment by MaryP | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  8. As a preschool teacher and a former in-home care providor, I dread the “the toilet is broken” comment.

    I love you blog, btw. I read it almost daily, after a long days work it’s great to hear tales from others – I am not alone!

    Comment by sixgreenzebras | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  9. I shouldn’t be laughing but I can’t help it.

    Comment by ann adams | July 24, 2007 | Reply

  10. I’m going to get you one of those step counters so we can work out how many miles you do in a day!

    My house is on 4 levels and I still have a bum that continues to wobble after I have reached the top stair!

    Comment by jenny uk | July 25, 2007 | Reply

  11. Sixgreenzebras: Hello, and welcome to the comment box! (I can’t say welcome to MaryP, because you’ve been here a while.) It’s great to know other people ‘in the business’ can relate, too.

    Ann: YES, you should be laughing! Of course! Even I was. (After I cleaned up the pee.)

    Jenny: I’d LOVE a step-counter. I really should get one. Actually, around here, you can borrow one from the library. Really! I’d only have it for three weeks, but it would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

    “A bum that continues to wobble” – and thighs that continue to burn. Four levels. Phew. Though, if you include basement and attic, mine has four levels, too. The attic is a teen bedroom, though, and I very, very rarely go up there…

    Comment by MaryP | July 25, 2007 | Reply

  12. That’s one we dealt with early. The kids learned to put the lid up. In our house, we consider it “fair” that everyone has to raise the lid to use the toliet and everyone has to put it down. No arguing over whether it’s the man’s job or the woman’s. Not to mention the added benefit of not finding toys “mysteriously” appear in the toliet.

    Comment by ktjrdn | July 25, 2007 | Reply

  13. ktjrdn: I think you mean they’re to leave the lid down. The lid, which closes access to the bowl entirely, rather than the seat (upon which one sits). If they were to leave it UP, there’d be free access to that lovely water.

    Your comment causes me to realize that none of the daycare tots have ever dropped anything illicit in the toilet. Not once. And our lid is always up. Wow.

    Comment by MaryP | July 25, 2007 | Reply

  14. Hehehe… my boys are well trained, they put the lid down as well (mainly because of the idea of droplets of faecal matter spraying around the bathroom is not my idea of hygiene…)

    Comment by Pewari | July 26, 2007 | Reply

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