Second time around

Restaurant crowd sees naked nuggets

Everybody said it would be easier this time. Potty-training kid No. 2 is supposed to be a snap, you see, because kid No. 2 is so eager to emulate the potty skills of kid No. 1. There’s this built-in motivation to be a “big boy.” And parents have gained some wisdom and confidence because they’ve already done time in the potty-training trenches and lived to tell about it.

I wasn’t too worried about our second son Jack’s transition from diapers to potty. I knew it would happen, one way or another. I bought Jack his own kid-level potty more than a year ago, hoping he might be inspired to ditch the diapers before his little sister was born. Jack loved the new little potty and was happy to sit on it and show off his deposit. But time passed and the novelty wore off. Jack lost interest. He abandoned the bathroom altogether.

So I backed off, partly because that’s what all the potty-training books tell you to do and partly because I was five months pregnant at the time and didn’t have the energy to force the issue. I decided to wait until after the baby was born and pray there’d be another window of opportunity. That was 10 months ago.

Finally that proverbial window cracked open. One day Jack announced he was going to the potty. He rounded the corner into the bathroom and insisted on privacy. After he was done, I offered him a choice: diaper or underwear. He reached out for the Scooby Doo underwear, pulled them on and that was it. He showed them off proudly to his older brother. He had officially joined the ranks of the big boys.

Jack had his share of accidents at first and would announce them by telling me he “peeped” in his pants. I taught him to take off his wet underwear, put it in the laundry basket and get a clean pair out of the drawer. By the end of the week, he was dry all day. Ah, sweet victory was mine! Two of my three kids were out of diapers. I decided to take the kids to Chick-fil-A for a celebratory lunch.

The boys scarfed down their meals and then ran off to play in the indoor play area. Seated in a nearby booth, I watched them through the plexiglass window and marveled at how quickly my first two babies had become independent little boys. I sat there leisurely enjoying my lunch, congratulating myself on my superior potty-training skills. Truly, it had been easier the second time around.

Then the god of “Not So Fast” paid me a cruel visit. I glanced over toward the play area to check on the boys and saw a scene that will forever be burned in my memory. There was Jack – standing in the middle of the play area completely nude from the waist down. The entire restaurant was getting a full moon, and there was a group of wide-eyed little girls standing in front of him staring down at his naked nuggets.

I bolted from my booth and raced into the play area. “Jack!” I yelled. “What are you doing?” He looked up at me and then pointed toward a pile of soggy underwear and shorts near the bottom of the slide. “Mom, I peeped on Scooby Doo,” he explained. I scooped them up and hurriedly put them back on him. “Jack, we don’t take our clothes off in Chick-fil-A!” Then I did what any mother would do in this situation. I made a break for it.

I rushed my crew out and sprinted toward the minivan, hoping to escape the embarrassment of my son’s lunchtime striptease. I can only imagine the questions those little girls had for their mothers after I hustled my little flasher out of there.

After we got home, I had a long talk with Jack about when it is and is NOT appropriate to take off one’s soggy Scooby Doo underwear. I can only hope he’ll remember the guidelines. Then I took an Advil, collapsed on the sofa and tried to reassure myself that this kind of thing probably happens to everyone. Parenting, at any stage, is full of surprises – even the second time around.

This column was originally published June 24, 2007, in the Northwest Arkansas Times.

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