A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Toilet Training Talk #5

Toilet training is an odd sort of event in an adult's life. This adult, in particular, finds it humbling, chaotic and bewildering. It's no wonder the great poets haven't spilt much ink over it as there's not much aesthetic quality to cleaning up after infants, toddlers or adults-in-training.

Nonetheless, as a survivor of this journey, I am curiously keen to pontificate on this most earthy of subjects. While it is not a topic I would eagerly raise in polite company ... it is, however, a part of the parental repertoir. Over time, when the mothering instincts have been much taxed, lingering suspicion emerges about who is being trained here. Some days it's all quite perplexing. On the one hand,  we are training a child to do something most of us do as a matter of second nature. On the other, we are delving deep into inner resources to cope with new emergencies or sending sound bytes to heaven for more grace to deal with one trying situation after another.

Are our children part of some cosmic conspiracy to drag us back to down to earth... so that every single time we change a nappy or wipe a bottom or wash down a pair of soiled underwear, we see the wisdom of many a home truth?
It is a rhetorical question, surely.

I've taken two children through this process and I can't say I received much enjoyment from it. There's nothing really technically difficult or exacting about it but when training involves another human being, techiniques are seldom the issue. Unlike Mozart, I am no student human excrement. However, I can say that I've seen it all... and I've gleaned all I want to know to last me a lifetime and more.

Remember that well-worn cliche that our elders used to hurl at us with regularity? "There are many things in life you don't like doing but you have to do it." Well, apparently it's true... and the truth of it becomes more stark as one lives longer. Toilet training is one of those things in life one does through gritted teeth... at least for me, that's been my experience.

Clearly, I don't enjoy toilet training... I'm sure there are some who relish being at close quarters with their children even to that extent but... they must be a rare breed. Still, I get it... I get the cosmic conspiracy.
It's part of that whole bonding thing... the parent and the child both needing to be toilet trained in concert thereby achieving a lifelong connection unattainable by any other means.

And when you've been at for a while, it finally hits you. Parenting is about getting one's hands dirty... constantly and in many situations... but the difficult truth is that we need to, in order to have a long-lasting emotional stake in the lives of our children. This is possibly why every parent spends the first five years of every child's life cleaning up after them and then spend the rest of their parenting lives getting their children to clean up after themselves.

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