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Potty Peril

I was sitting in a coffee shop recently when a man came in with what I assume was his son. He was a bigger guy – tall and broad. The boy was a toddler. I would guess 2½-ish.

They were standing in line when suddenly the guy reached down and picked the kid up under his arms and hoisted him up the air, and then stuck his nose right up to the kid’s puffy diaper butt. Then he set the kid back down, pulled the rear waist of his pants and diaper away from his body, and looked inside.

I could tell this was a completely normal thing for this man to do because he didn’t even think twice about it. He must have also not found much, because they continued to wait in line.

I had to laugh because the pre-mom Holly would have been repulsed and outraged by such a public display of diaper inspection. However, now that I am Mom, I totally get it. The easiest way to determine if your kid has a dirty diaper is to smell the source. If that doesn’t 100 percent confirm your suspicions, you get a visual.

And doing the sniff and sight test right out in the open is much more efficient than hauling your kid to the bathroom for a possible false alarm.

With an almost-5-year-old, our bathroom accident-prevention efforts are a little different. Mikey has been potty trained for about a year and a half now, but he still doesn’t always give us much notice when he has to go. Therefore, whenever we are somewhere that a bathroom is easily accessible and readily available, we’re always asking him if he needs to go.

It’s annoying for all parties involved, but it’s necessary.

However, while we are in a comfortable place now with Mikey’s bathroom habits, it was a long road to get here.

As is probably the case with a lot of our experiences with Mikey, I’m pretty sure we went about potty training all wrong. Everyone – pediatrician included – told us to just put him in underwear, or let him be naked, for a long weekend at home and just constantly take him to the toilet, or even put one of those little plastic potties in every room and constantly sit him on it and encourage him to go.

We were told that after three days of this he would have enough successes that he would magically be potty trained.

Simple, right?


It just didn’t happen that way for us. We kept him in undies all weekend and ended up with a mess. Then we had him in undies and pants and ended up with a lot of laundry.

People told us to reward him with M&Ms, giving him one candy for each attempt and two for each success.

Well, what do you do if you kid gets to eat M&Ms for no reason at all? They aren’t so much a reward at that point. Mikey would have had to be offered all the chocolate at Hersey Park to be inspired to pee on the potty.

Eventually, my husband encouraged him to pee outside, which Mikey found fun. Again, the pre-mom Holly would have totally judged someone who let their kid just pee outside like a barnyard animal. But this new Mom version of Holly was completely on board.

However, it soon became apparent that we had, in fact, created an animal, because we would be inside the house and I would hear the back screen door slide open and I would watch Mikey pee of the back porch. This lead to many discussions that you only pee outside if you are already outside and you don’t think you can make it to a toilet. If you are inside, you do not go outside to pee.

I must say, I have to give it to girl parents. There are many moms and dads who, at the playground, have to pick up their kid and make a run – carrying them over their shoulder, under their arm or on their back – for the car where they pull out a little potty for the kid to sit on and go. Then, of course, they have to discard the contents.

Meanwhile, I just take Mikey out of public view and away from the play area to pee. I’m not proud of it, but it’s what we do. This has also lead to some embarrassing moments where he thought it was fine to simply drop his pants to go wherever he wants.

I can only remember this happening twice before I quickly corrected such behavior, but, man, when I turned my head one day and saw a pair of pasty white butt cheeks I would recognize anywhere just staring at me from the side of the playground, I nearly died.

Now, solids are a whole other animal. Like all kids his age, Mikey doesn’t always “clean up” so well after going to the bathroom, so sometimes he comes home with what Mike and I affectionately call butt crumbs.

It was a little hard to explain to Nonna and Nonno that, when they are watching him, they need to inspect Mikey after he goes to the bathroom for butt crumbs. Seems pretty self-explanatory to me, but whatever.

We also still get some nerve-wracking situations and some close calls. Just the other day I was getting dinner ready in the kitchen and Mikey yelled from the couch: “Mom, my butt feels stinky!”

I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast in my life. Abandoning the broccoli I was chopping I ran over to the couch and pulled him off.

“What do you mean your butt feels stinky? Did you have an accident?”

“No,” he answered as he craned his neck around me to see the TV.

“Did air come out?”


“Do you feel like you have to go to the potty?”


“OK, so why did you say your butt feels stinky?”

“I dunno.”

He passed the smell and sigh test, and I chalked it up to one of life’s greatest mysteries.

Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mom of an almost-5-year-old. She can be reached at


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