“Daddy, dou don’t do poop in my poddy. It tinks. Dou can pee but not poop.” Bouncing “D’s” between vowels as only a two-year old can, H. made this declaration – while sitting on our potty. (Someday I will call it a bathroom again)

“I see, but you can pee and poop in my potty?” (or “peep” as we call it – they had a blast with the marshmallowy weirdness that are “peeps” this Easter.)

“Yes, but dou don’t poop in my poddy” Said with even more conviction this time.

“Got it, but you can poop in mine. I can’t poop in yours. Can I pee in yours?”

“Daddy, dou can’t…”

You get the picture, and this exchange went on for a few minutes. Not because she was imparting any wisdom on me, or that I didn’t already know where I can do my duty, which, she will learn, is anywhere I please, until they’re older, and until they can do theirs without spraying, splashing, spilling or otherwise getting “it” all over the place. I also find it cute that she says this to me as if it is the most important thing going on, it trumps all problems in the world, and focuses squarely on what is important in life – where you can lay your waste.

H. is potty training and wants to be as independent as possible in the process. We have a small potty that she goes in, it has a bucket that gets cleaned out after she “does her thing”. She periodically goes missing during the day, is found dumping the bucket in the toilet, which I am happy that she is putting it there rather than the garbage can, but she starts her “dump” too early and sends her rocks into the bowl with enough force to create a splash that sprays a three-foot radius of potty-water-goodness around the bowl. There are times I look back on diaper days with fond memories, at least the waste was confined, not forgotten about and left to stink in a waterless bowl for three hours, yah, that was pretty bad.

Along with H. taking care of her own “waste”, there is A. who doesn’t care where she wipes anything that comes out of her body. “Dad, I sneezed this morning and like blood came out with the snot.” Hearing this three minutes after opening my eyes I replied “Wow, that’s crazy.” A few minutes passed, I woke up, realized what I had just heard, remembered that this is our child who had a booger wall and now a booger rag tied to her bed, and said “Um, where did you put it?” She sheepishly put her fingers to her lips as she backed away making this odd dog begging noise, “Ahh, on my bed.” “Dude, that’s nasty.” Flew out of my mouth as if I was responding to a college roommate. She smiled and moved on, and it isn’t until now, when I write this, that I remember it’s still there. Crispy by now.

It's baseball season. The girls wearing R.'s old uniforms.

I’m posting this after breakfast and before lunch for a reason.

Every parent has their stories of, well, cleaning up after their children, and it isn’t until you are trying to teach your kids how to clean up after themselves that you learn what peed up underwear smells like after three days in the hamper – at least she put it in the hamper. You have to see the bright side, right? Growth, development, learning, and understanding how to care for one self comes with a cost; that cost is usually wet, smelly, gooey, and any other adjective to describe the “stuff” that our bodies part with – for a reason.

My Papa Sense tells me:

Learning is a messy process.

Learning to have: a positive self-image, discipline, responsibility, pride, and all the other wonderful things we strive for to become better people, for ourselves and others in our lives, leaves quite a few stains on the walls, and crusty who-knows-what’s on our clothes. But, if we aren’t able to discover these “things” in our own way, if we aren’t allowed to fail, if we aren’t supported when we get weak – and want it, and if we don’t learn to clean up after shooting our beds, we don’t truly know what they mean. As for the messes our kids leave behind? I’ll gladly deal with three loads of laundry today, knowing they’ll understand, with love, why they are doing three loads of laundry in twenty years.