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April 29, 2008 / allyo

Poo poo butt!

Conversation with a three-year-old:

Mom (looking at daily report sheet from daycare): What is “butterfly” in sign language? Do you remember?

3YO: Chicken nugget isn’t a potty word!


Ah, potty words. The bane of my existence. My pragmatic side can appreciate that this is just small potatoes compared to the future onslaught of fart jokes, fart noises, and god knows what else boys these days talk about that is gross and disgusting. The other side of me vacillates between fury and complete and total disengagement. My grandma used to disengage, when I had pushed her beyond her limits. Only she’d do it for days at a time. Me, I force myself to snuggle, to kiss his head while rocking him at bedtime, while also dodging poking fingers and trying to tune out the ever-present mantra of “poopoo peepee poopy butt.”

We’re trying a newish strategy. Awhile back Moxie posted a link to a website that talked about how time outs don’t work for preschoolers and why. I don’t remember the website name so I can’t look for it, but what stood out for me was that preschoolers need second chances. They need the opportunity for a do-over, to set things right. So I’ve been pondering how to do that without it coming across as backsliding, because I firmly believe in sticking to consequences. Mad Dog hit upon the phrase of “earning back,” so tonight Jamie lost his tv time, and about 15 minutes later when he was actually behaving himself, I gave him the option of earning it back.

It worked so well it was scary. Suddenly he was listening. He was polite. He was a dream right up until we hit the bathroom to undress and out it came. “Poopy! POOPY! POOPY!”


It just occurred to me that at daycare potty language “belongs in the potty” so that may be why the words just have to pop out at that point in the night. I guess we’ll have to talk about it tomorrow. But for tonight he lost both tv and books, and lights were turned out a half hour earlier than usual. He’s in there now, muttering something. It could be poopy, or he could be spelling all his classmate’s names. The other night he fell asleep as he was holding up his hands, adding the fingers from one hand to the other. It’s like all my little internal ticks and compulsions are walking and breathing manifestations now. Hopefully he’ll outgrow it, but somehow, I dunno. Since I still can’t step on an uneven number of cracks or seams in the sidewalk, I doubt it. Still, it does help me breathe deeply and keep my cool, knowing that the only difference between us, really, is the ability to read, add, and hold in those potty words until it’s really appropriate.



Leave a Comment
  1. whylime / Apr 30 2008 11:28 am


    Thankfully, we don’t have a problem with potty words. (yet). The lentil had a friend at his first day care, back when he was not yet two, who loved to come in and sing “under under underwear!” and the lentil loved to repeat that. We sort of decided that underwear wasn’t a poopy word and let him run with it and he didn’t ever evolve into more troubling pottymouth. thank goodness. The lentil instead sounds like Christopher Robin half the time, saying “Oh bother.” when he gets all het up.

    hi! we miss you at d&s!

  2. FriendD / Apr 30 2008 6:07 pm

    Ahhhhh…bathroom words. We had pretty much eradicated them through thoughtful discussion and compromise, only to have them uttered instantly every time they walked into the bathroom! Anyhow, the more I made of them, the more they uttered them…..

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