My Child Has a Potty Mouth
Please help, I can’t take the potty talk
-Julie Ryan Evans
I’m soon going to lose my (insert adult potty-talk word here) if my son and his friends don’t stop with the potty talk already.
It pops up anywhere and everywhere there are little boys. Children who have never met before bond instantly in the swimming pool by jumping off, yelling, “poopy poo!” and then bursting into such intense giggles that they can barely keep themselves afloat.
Before taking a picture of Nolan and his two friends this weekend I would say, “one, two, three, say cheese.” And then one of the three yells “pee pee!” because that kind of rhymes with cheese, and then it’s quickly followed by yells of “poop” and “toilet paper” and a new favorite, “booty”. Breathing is difficult because they are laughing so hard.
And it’s not a one-trick pony this potty talk. Oh no, for hours on end, it never loses its luster, its hilarity. It’s actually been several years now that we’ve been dealing with potty talk, and really, I think it’s only gotten funnier to him.
I keep thinking he’ll outgrow it. Surely, at some point, it can’t be so hilarious anymore. But when I tell this to moms of older boys, “wow, I can’t wait for this phase to be over … soon?” I get the big eye roll, yeah-right, you-have-no-idea-what-you’re-in-for, it-never-stops kind of a response. And I panic.
At least my second child is a girl, and surely girls wouldn’t find humor in such distasteful, smelly bathroom talk, but not so say friends with older girls. They too get hours of giggles from daring to say these charming words.
I’ve tried lots of approaches. Ignoring it – not even a dent in the offending language, perhaps it only encouraged it. Punishing it – but he’d spend the rest of his life in his room if I made him go for each infraction.
So I went to my best source of parenting advice, my friends. Here were a few of their suggestions:
“I always say if you are going to potty talk then go into the bathroom where potty talk belongs – a friend of mine told me that and it has always worked for my kids,” says my friend Jana. “Once they realize they have to stay in the bathroom to do it, it really is no fun anymore!”
Brilliant advice that many echoed, but knowing my son, he’d find it great fun (he could entertain himself in a dirt hole). Plus there’s the problem of when we’re out and about – where the potty talk usually happens – which means the dreaded public restrooms that I’m not really willing to hang out in.
My friend Tracy puts vinegar on her son’s tongue if he uses potty talk. I threatened Nolan with that, which seemed to be something scarily unknown enough to put a cabash on it for awhile. But then we ate a restaurant where they served oil and vinegar with the bread, and he thought it was great, so that threat went out the window.
I suppose we could use Tabasco sauce or the age-old soap as my no-nonsense brother suggested. But I’m not sure I really want to go there.
My friend Barry’s comment just reaffirms my fear that I’m probably not ever going to exterminate the excrement verbiage no matter how hard I try. “I’m an adult and I’m still into potty talk,” he says.
And I think that’s part of the problem, part of me has just grudgingly accepted that this is a relatively futile battle, so my efforts to fight it aren’t as strong as they probably should be. It’s his own little rebellion, and as long as he’s not doing it at school or church, I guess in the scheme of battles, this isn’t the worst one to lose.
And sometimes, the laughter is so infectious, so heartfelt, that I have to try really hard not to collapse into my own frenzy of giggles. I have to admit, I’ve failed on more than one occasion, scolding through my own laughter, “that is NOT funny,” as I wipe away the tears running down my face. Not helpful, I know.
And while I’ll never understand the humor in such words, I do get the allure of something so universally bonding. If only there were words for adults that would elicit surefire laughter, make one the life of the party at the mere utterance of these magic words. I’d love to have a couple like that in my pocket.
So tell me, does it get better? What has worked for you?
Read Julie’s Latest Blog: When Your 5-Year-Old Has Cancer