It’s Not All Mary Poppins

You only think I’m patient

It is Quiet Time at Mary’s house. Daniel and Poppy are tucked into their cots for an actual, closed-eyes sleeping-type nap, while Grace and Jazz, big girls now that they’re three, are placed on mats with books and toys, where they play quietly.

Now, Daisy has been making a pest of herself during Quiet Time, hopping onto their mats, chewing their toys, even pulling their socks right off their feet. (On a day like today, when Grace is wearing tights, sock-tugging creates even greater than normal levels of consternation …)

I decide that the simplest measure is to put Grace’s cot in the kitchen and close the big wooden gate between kitchen and dining room. Jazz will be in the living room, where I can supervise from my desk in the dining room. In truth, Jazz needs less supervision: she’s feisty and resilient, and overall pretty adept at dealing with Daisy.  It’s Grace who wilts and wails, so it’s Grace who gets the firm protection of the gate.

However. I have two diaper-free girls. I have one potty. It is in the dining room. Jazz has easy access, but Grace will be on the other side of the gate in the kitchen. This will require preparation.

“Grace, you are going to have Quiet Time in the kitchen today.” Grace gazes wide-eyed into my face. “You’ll be in the kitchen, so Daisy can’t bother you.  Now,”  I walk over to the baby gate and rest my hand on top of it, “the gate is shut. If you need to go pee, you can just come over here, and push it open, like this.” I push with two hands, as Grace will need to. “Don’t touch the latch.” I indicate the latch, so she knows what I mean, then shake my hands in a ‘no’ movement in front of it. “You don’t need to move the latch. The gate is not locked. If you need to use the potty, you just push the gate open, and away you go. Okay?”

She nods, hesitantly. Hm. I’m not sure she gets this.

“Grace, come here.” She trots over. “The gate is shut, right?” She nods. “If you need to go pee, you can push it open.” I take her two hands and help her shove the gate. It swings open. The potty is in clear view. “That’s right. You push it open, and then you can go to the potty. Understand?”

She nods with greater confidence. Okay. I think she’s got it. One more thing to double-check. “Grace, do you have to go pee or poo right now?”


Right, then. All details seen to, I send her back to her cot with her books and her puzzles, and retire to my desk. (And why do I not put the potty in with Grace? Because Jazz would have to pull the door open, a much harder task than pushing it, when there is no handle, and the top of the gate is above her head.)

It is not fifteen minutes later that I hear the wailing from the kitchen. I investigate.

“I have to go peeeeeeee!”

It should not matter, but this child is the world’s ugliest cryer, and when I’m already exasperated, it’s the last straw on this camel’s back.

“You have to pee?”

“I have to peeeeeee!”

“So why don’t you?” Yes, I confess, there is some irritation showing in my voice.

“The gate is yocked!”

“No, Grace, it’s not. Remember what I said? Remember what I just showed you?”

“The gate is yocked!”

“Grace, come here. Come on, we’ll do this again. Come to the gate, and push it open.” And she’s through. “That’s my girl. Now go have a pee, and when you’re done come here so we can wash your hands.”

Two minutes later, she’s back on her cot, playing happily. I do my best to shake off the annoyance. I’ve yet to decide whether she’s just exceedingly passive, or not too bright. Either way, I find these sorts of episodes tedious in the extreme, but what can you do? She’s not setting out to annoy. She was genuinely distressed. All is quiet once more. I take a deeeeep breath, relax my shoulders, and go back to my bill-paying.

Jazz sets down her train game and trots over to the potty. She pulls up her skirt, turns … and pauses.

“Mary? The potty is all wet.”

It’s wet?

It is. Grace has managed to pee on, over, and around the potty. In the potty? I don’t think so. Just on, over, and around. The seat is well-sprinkled, the flood liberally puddled. My recently-relaxed shoulders resume their climb ear-ward.

I smile as I clean it up, though, because it’s none of Jazz’s doing, and at least she had the sense not to sit in it. This is NOT to be taken for granted, and I am suitably appreciative. So I’m cheery with Jazz. I say nothing at all to Grace, oblivious and happy in the other room. (I may be missing a Teachable Moment, but I’m just not sure I can do it without undue ferocity. The idea is to teach, not scare the crap out of them…)

I may have ground some enamel off my rear teeth, and my shoulders are pretty much adhered to my ears, but I’m smiling and outwardly calm.

Maybe I am patient, after all…


May 3, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, Peeve me, potty tales | , , | 4 Comments