So Long Prince, and Thanks For All the Fish. 

At this point, there’s absolutely no way at all any one on the face of the earth is unaware that Prince is dead. To be perfectly honest, I’m still in a bit of shock.

Men like Prince tend to exist within a fog of ethereal surrealness. The problem with this is, is that while they are alive and walking on two legs, the legacy that they have created tends to do the majority of ‘the living’ for them. Because of that, we tend to forget that these ‘larger than life’ heroes of ours are just as vulnerable as we are.

Short of that, I’d rather not try and add any other bullshit to this. If I were to do so, it would be like trying to have a conversation with someone who is on the other side of a busy rail yard. Instead of that, I’d rather remember the good things that Prince has given us, and the better things that have come, or will come, from his passing.

What follows are some of the better things that have come across my feeds in the past week. I hope you enjoy them.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

FOR THE ROCK HALL CLIP, SKIP TO 3:24 IN ORDER TO WATCH PRINCE MURDER THE WHOLE SONG AND THROW HIS GUITAR AWAY

 

A brief word on the need for heroes in your life (and a book review).

(This past Thursday, March 12, Sir Terry Pratchett passed away in his sleep. I’m sure you’re wondering “Well… who the fuck was that and why should I care?” 

Terry Pratchett was a prolific fantasy author (he maintained a writing pace of producing two books a year for the past 20 years!) that I had happened upon when I was really getting into Neil Gaiman. Mr. Gaiman, having worked with Sir Pratchett and had been a close friend, mentioned his relationship with Pratchett in interviews from time to time. 

My interest in Pratchett’s work was further piqued when I learned that he was suffering from a type of Alzheimer’s, PCA, if I am not mistaken. Ailment aside, he still kept up the pace that he had set with his writing. 

As I am a slut for writing and a slut for reading books, learning that he basically gave the finger to PCA and kept working made Sir Pratchett my new hero. 

If there is one thing that I have learned throughout the course of my life it is that you need to have a hero, an example to look to throughout the course of your life. There are going to be times when you are at your lowest of lows, having that person (or group of people) will help you pull through. 

As such, I have decided that this week I will share my thoughts on some of Pratchett’s work. I say ‘some’ because the amount of books that he has written in his lifetime is somewhere in the 70’s. I hope you enjoy what’s to come.

Thanks for reading,

Matt)

***

There’s a thing about literature that’s written by an Englishman, when they are being clever, or funny, the point is sometimes lost to anyone who’s not an Englishman (or Englishwoman).

Unseen Academicals is no exception to this (somewhat lame) theory of mine.

Through an oversight in the executions of college traditions, the wizards at the Unseen University have been delivered an ultimatum by the universe: they need to form a football team or else they will be taken down a peg or two by the Patrician of their city.

As with all things written by Terry Pratchett, the story is not that simple. However that is the main theme running throughout.

To be perfectly honest, I ended up putting it down the first time that I tried to read it. The business with the Megapode within the first handful of pages was a bit of a turn off for me.

After some time had passed, I soldiered on past the silliness (which was actually a rather coy set-up for a satire that I completely missed on the first go around) and I was completely blown away.

Unseen Academicals is pure Pratchett. Love, the importance of family, social tolerance, sportsmanship… All of these themes written into the rich tapestry that Pratchett has created with the birth of Discworld nearly 30 years ago.

If you are unfamiliar with Discworld, you will be at a loss if you were to start with this book. I would suggest starting with one of the early books like “The Colour or Magic” or any of the first handful of novels, they generally have a good explanation of things (and if memory serves correctly, they should have a basic glossary of characters, as well.).

Unseen Academicals, as well as most stories* written by Terry Pratchett, is well worth your monetary investment.

(*I say “most” because I have not read “ALL” of the stories written by Sir Pratchett.)

pic courtesy of: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91F0L5Md8UL._SL1500_.jpg

The Evolution of Advertising

In this day and age, we can’t seem to leave the house without someone trying to persuade us to do something. Billboards, radio shows as well as radio advertising, even loud signage on the front of some retail stores: all of these are examples of someone trying to persuade an individual to do something. Even when we are in the safety and comfort of our own home, that level of persuasion slips in through television, internet usage and on a smaller level, postal mail.

Not all persuasion is the same. There are some forces out there trying to persuade you in an effort to sell a product and there are other forces that are trying to persuade you through an informative campaign to make a decision based on belief.

Take a look at the poster art from World War II. At this time, our society was still in its infancy. Men were supposed to provide for their families and fight in wars while women were expected to take care of the home and raise the children. After World War II started, the first jolt to our society’s subconscious was felt: so many men were needed to fight in this war, it was immediately accepted that the women needed to be a part of the workforce.

People of higher power took advantage of this naivety by producing gorgeously rendered posters illustrating:

“Pictures of fists, muscles, tools, and artillery (that) convey American strength. Patriotic colors of red, white, and blue predominate as national symbols and heroes appeal to patriotism… (Additionally, other) posters confront the viewer with the frightening stakes of the war and its human cost. Dark, earthen colors appear in portrayals of imperiled citizens, as well as dead and wounded soldiers” (The National Archives, 2011). 

It was imperative that the entire country supported their government and participated supportively in war efforts in any way that they could. It didn’t matter if it was something as small as collecting spare bits of aluminum for manufacturing weapons or growing a Victory Garden, every American needed to support the country at this time.

As it can be seen, all of these posters rely heavily on the use of Symbolic Expression. According to Charles Larson, author of “Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility”, symbolic expression affects us psychologically. After taking a good look at some of these posters anyone would whole-heartedly agree with that. It would be quite a challenge to look at any of these posters and not feel the paranoia that our government was pushing on our grandparents during this war.

Advertising, in contrast to the informative campaign set forth during World War II, conveys the sole purpose of getting a section of society to purchase a specific product. The success of consecutive sales of “said product” is dependent on the advertising campaign that has been set forth. 

A concrete example of a consistently successful advertising campaign can be seen in the Ivory Project. Through the National Museum of American History, the Ivory Project is an assemblage of:

“1,600 advertisements and related ephemera, 1838-1998, (and) features a representative sample of print advertising for Ivory soap, one of the nation’s longest-lived, branded consumer products… these… materials… frequently use images of house cleaning, bathing, women, and children. (Ivory Project, 2011). 

There could be any number of reasons as to why Ivory has continued to enjoy successful sales across two centuries. The obvious reason would be that they have created a quality product with a simple formula and have never strayed far from that original formula.

A less obvious reason could involve the presentational meaning of the images in a given advertisement. The presentational meaning of a given image:

“occurs all at once and the message is experienced in its entirety at one time, such as when one looks at a painting, architecture, or a statue, or experiences a ritual or an emotional gasp of approval to eloquent language use. In this way it resembles a metaphor which is recognized all at once and is best fit for a media-saturated dramatic world” (Larson, 2010).

The frequent use of images like “house cleaning, bathing, women and children” could lead one to believe that the section of society that purchases Ivory Products is largely female and the Ivory Soap Company is appealing to its clientele.

Based on this alone, it can be seen that our society is directly affected through the use of symbolism and imagery.

After seeing an advertisement from the 1940’s of a small child taking a bath, would it be possible to not associate bathing with the name of Ivory Soap?

Regardless of the intent, the use of such imagery is, in essence, the creation of a symbol. The use of symbols has been present throughout our species communication history. However, with the creation of specific symbols we are not only communicating but we are also creating an ideal; the epitome of something to put our faith in. This is very present in the archival material from the Ivory Soap Company as well as the use of motivational posters during World War II. The creation of: “symbols made possible all our major cultural advances, and this is more true than ever in the current age… we as persuaders need to recognize these symbols for what they are and what they do to us in order to accomplish persuasive results” (Larson, 2010). The use of appropriate imagery is a very powerful tool.

It’s kind of sad really: the advertisements we see today only have a fraction of the words that the ads our grandparents grew up with. The implications in this are saying more than a careful juxtaposition of images can get a message across. It’s saying that our society can’t be bothered with reading a simple ad.

This is proof that whether you are trying to sell a product to a certain section of society, or if you are trying to inform society at large that there is a sleeping wickedness in the world waiting for them to let their guard down, a picture can be worth a thousand words.

Sources Consulted

Ivory Project: Advertising Soap in America 1838-1998. (2003). Retrieved from  http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives/Ivory/index.asp#

Larson, Charles U. (2010). Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility, 12th ed. Boston:  Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

The Powers of Persuasion: Poster Art from World War II. (2011). Retrieved from  http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/powers_of_persuasion/powers_of_persuasion_i ntro.html#

My father’s hairline. 

Having a beard (the thing that grows out of a grown man’s face, not a women covering for closeted homosexuals) seems to be the latest trend that men need to subscribe to in order to fit in. What’s more is that there are apparently some women out there that actually like beards.

My ‘beard-ing’ back story.

There used to be a time when I absolutely hated shaving. Yes, it was my teenage years. And yes, a good chunk of my hatred for facial grooming came from people (school administrators, bosses at work) telling me that I needed to do it. We men are a generic and sometimes unoriginal species. 

I blame my father for not teaching me properly. He was a cheap son of a bitch who’s weaponry of choice for shaving didn’t leave the realm of a can of Barbasol and the Bic razors with the orange cap. There was a brief and potentially ill-advised period where he used a Braun shaver. If I’m not mistaken that didn’t last long because of a technical malfunction that either took off a chunk of his face or ending up burning the shit out of him.

At any rate, when I needed to start shaving on a regular basis, I was started out on Barbasol and cheap-o Bic razors. Like the naive rube I was, I didn’t question my father’s choice despite the miles of razor rash and mounds of ingrown hairs.

About a year after I graduated high school (1999-sh), my employer at the time had reevaluated their dress code. The end result was that men were know allowed to wear beards. Suffice it to say, I bearded up hard and kept my beard in some form or fashion for the next couple of years. That’s right: I had a beard before beards were cool.


As you can see, it was not a coiffed fru fru beard that some of my constituents wear today. This was a full blown ‘there might be a small animal living in there’ face bracken. 

The only thing I did to groom it back in those days was the occasional freshening up with a pair of scissors and of course, trimming the hair around my face-hole when that interrupted my feedings.

For the record, there were no living animals cohabiting with my face. At best, there might’ve been the odd pen (for real, my shit was that thick and it held said pen better than behind my ears ever could).

Also, beards stop at the throat, NOT THE JAW LINE. If you are one of THOSE, you need to fix that ASAP. You look goddamn ridiculous with sculpted facial hair and a fucking gobbler because you stopped taking care of yourself in your mid-20’s.

The thing that struck me almost immediately when my beard reached full maturity was how apart of my personality it became. 

If someone who knew me was talking to someone I had met in passing, I was referred to as ‘the guy with the beard’. If I was lost in thought or if someone had asked me a question that required pondering, you’re damn right I’d contemplatively stroke my chin whiskers.

Why I have made a point of shaving daily.

Since my ‘full-of-shit’ 20’s, my facial hair has come and gone. I have had the Abraham Lincoln, mutton chops, the Chester A. Arthur, and for a brief period of time, just a moustache. 

And yes, my wife has had a signifcant impact on the type of facial hair I had, if any at all. To wit, the last beard I had, I had because my wife had implored me to use beard oil.

It was the best beard I ever had. It smelled great. It didn’t itch when it was coming in. Best of all, it didn’t have that pube-y consistent that beards occasionally fall prey to.

My outlook on facial hair took a turn in my mid-30’s when I realized I was gaining my father’s hairline.

Receding hairlines and baldness can be a bitch if really let it get under your skin. For the longest time, I fought against the inevitable because I was a vain prat who wanted to be himself and not an iteration of his predecessors.

It was pretty bad: Nioxin, the stuff your supposed to use in between Nioxin cycles (I can’t remember the name and given my shame, I don’t want to invest the mouse clicks to find out…) jojoba oil, natural treatments… You name it, I have done it. And it was all in an attempt to avoid/delay/prolong the inevitable:

I was going to get my father’s hairline whether I wanted to or not. 

It’s not that bad, my hairline. If I had to describe it, it is a more kempt version of Bill Murray’s a la Ghostbusters. There’s some obvious recession that can be seen in a high forehead to hair proportion but there’s still that one chunk, front and center that refuses to give up the ghost.

What does that have to do with beards?

Some guys can pull off the receding hairline + beard, and others can’t. Given my genetics, I think I am in the ‘can’t’ category. Even though my father and I share the same hairline, the difference between the two of us lies in the fact that his hair was practically straight and my was, and is, thick likes sheep’s wool.

(Receding afro + pube-like beard = bad news bears).

Once things reached a critical mass with my thinning hair, I decided to start cutting my hair close to the scalp and shaving my face everyday.

To me, there’s nothing worse than a man looking in the mirror and seeing how things used to be. I am not one of those men.

Besides, there’s a man factor of +1000 when you’re clean-shaven and good smellin’ on a daily basis. 

Is Convenience Really Worth It?

About 15 years ago, I was on a leisurely drive with my father. Driving was something that we both liked to do. We valued the fact that an aimless drive can clear your head just as well as any form of meditation.

This particular day was different, though. Once I saw them, saw the patterns of locations, the drive was ruined for me. Drugstores: they were everywhere. On one particular drive we passed at least ten different drug stores.

A few years later, this sudden growth of drugstores dried up long enough for big box superstores to establish their dominance.

It can easily be argued that big box superstores have ruined any semblance of free enterprise. Instead of giving us the variety and individuality of local enterprises, we are instead handed a lukewarm imitation of the same services dolloped with horrible customer service that we settle for because it’s readily available to us.

Conversely it can be said that these local enterprises are just as inconvenient. They never have what you immediately need, most of them are hard to find and the prices for some of the things that they offer are completely ludicrous.

According to a report prepared for the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Economic Development for Eugene, Oregon, a big box store is defined as:

“A stand-alone building typically significantly larger in size than traditional stores, often uniform in appearance and housing one or two retail businesses, designed with its own parking lot or lots, oriented to the major thoroughfare to be accessed primarily by automobile, with a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) typically less than .25, and drawing from a regional level marketplace (with a 2-5mile radius trade area or larger) to draw profits from sales volume vs. high price mark-ups. A big box site can include associated smaller retail stores (often restaurants) on the periphery of the parking lot. Store ownership can be either franchise or an outlet of a chain business” (Big Box Stores, 2004).

Sadly, this sounds like the composition of most suburban areas today.

Home Depot, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and on a lesser level, most grocery stores are starting to follow this same path. Some grocery stores offer food courts, Starbucks, dry-cleaning services as well as day-care services for the parents seeking quiet consumerism.

How can you not shop at any of these places?

As we continue to evolve as a society, we tend to put further emphasis on the need to feel accomplished, to do “things” as opposed to enjoying life fully. (The easy example would be the daily operations of the average family: some days the to-do list is never ending). Because of this, shopping at big box superstores appears to be a necessity in this day and age. I do it and I am sure that anyone who will read this does it too.

So what about the other side of the coin, the local enterprises? It is undeniably difficult to say anything bad about them. If there is one thing that the big box superstores consistently do while they grow in number, it’s that they have completely galvanized the local Mom and Pop shops as the underdog. In the end, who really has the gall to say anything bad about the underdog? Consider this:

• In a 2009 study of 15 locally owned businesses, 32% of the businesses returned their revenue to the local economy. Whereas an average SuperTarget Store only returned 16% (New Rules Project, 2011)
• “Overall, Walmart hourly workers earn 12.4% less than retail workers, as a whole. This study finds raising their pay to a minimum of $12 an hour would lift many out of poverty, reduce their reliance on public assistance, and cost the average consumer, at most, $12.49 a year” (New Rules Project, 2011).
• In a 2006 study, the opening of a Chicago-based Walmart resulted in the closure of one-quarter of the businesses within a four-mile radius. Roughly 82 businesses closed, in all (New Rules Project, 2011).

With data like this, can you blame the Mom and Pop shop for raising prices in order to compete with the big box store opening up for business a few blocks away?

The data found above, I happened upon only after a couple of keystrokes. While it is not my place to displace the legitimacy of a study that someone threw their back into, it should be noted, “Persuaders (people who have created these studies) frequently use cause-to-effect reasoning to identify events, trends, or facts that have resulted in certain effects. They tell us that if a cause is present we can expect certain effects to follow” (Larson, 2010).

In short: you should take these findings with a grain of salt.

Go to these places and exercise some deductive reasoning . Go to Walmart. Go to SuperTarget (if there’s one available near you). Go to CostCo. Go to these places and ask yourself these questions:
1. Do the employees look like they are enjoying their jobs?
2. Is the community benefitting from the presence of this retailer in the long run?

While there is something to be said for convenience given the society that we currently live in, there is also something that could be said for goods and services that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Mom and Pop shops will never truly go the way of the do-do in the same respect that there are just some areas of this beautiful planet that retail monopolies will never be allowed to exist.

Regardless of your answer to these questions, make up your own mind. Don’t follow someone else’s opinion and a stream of data blindly into the future.

Sources Consulted

Larson, Charles U. (2010). Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility, 12th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Big Box Stores. (2004). Retrieved from
http://www.jwj.org/campaigns/econdevt/tools/ESSNBigBoxReport.pdf

New Rules Project. (2011). Designing rules as if a community matters. Retrieved from http://www.newrules.org/retail/key-studies-walmart-and-bigbox-retail#4

Poopin’ 2.0

As I may have mentioned here before, I am an “Air Force Wife”. 

My wife occupies a position of prominence in the USAF while I occupy the home. That is not to say that I am a ‘laurel-rest-er’. If I didn’t stay at home, our children wouldn’t be as well-adjusted as they are and the house would be a pit of dirty dishes and full garbage bags. I digress.

Given the nature of my wife’s employment, she is sometimes required to go out of town for training. When those opportunities arise, my wife and I maintain contact through Snapchat. While I still don’t understand the point of Snapchat, I figured that it would be best if we used said service instead of texting back and forth. With texting (our primary method of contact when she is in town), that shit eats up a lot of space on your phone. Doubly so if you’re trying to stay in contact with your Boo because they’re out of town.

That is not to say that she is my only contact on Snapchat. Various people from my days on Facebook have added me, and I, them. Sometimes ‘snap’ back and forth.

One day, after the kids had been jettisoned at their respective schools, I decide to check my snaps and one of said Facebook peoples snapped me back.

They wanted to know what I was doing.

I was finishing my morning constitutional. The person contacting me was a fellow male. So I seized the opportunity to compose a tasteful snap of myself sitting on the throne.

Suffice it to say that the fellow male appreciated my candor. I don’t remember what all we talked about but he ended up schooling me on Poopin’ 2.0

The video is a bit on the long side but the science and the logic are there. Since my initial viewing, I have adopted the method and I must say, my constitutionals are wonderful!

Go ahead, give it a look-see!

In Conclusion (Potty Training Finale).

Like the previous two children, when The Wife and I had our third, and final child, we didn’t know what to expect. It was great news and perfect timing (there’s only three years difference between each child). We were happy.

How can you know what to expect, really? Not to get all hippy dippy and weird, but everyone kind of is like a snow flake. Doubly so, for babies. They may seem like one-trick ponies, what with all of the neediness and crying and noise. But even with something as simple as teaching the kid to shit in the toilet and not their hand, your kid’s personality will shine through, every time.

Parents don’t consciously realize this (at least I didn’t…) until hindsight kicks in. No one is to blame if this is the case. Parenting is fucking hard. All of the time. Even when you think things have plateaued out and are hunky dory, parenting is still hard.

So when Little Bear was born, The Wife and I were blown away. Why? Because everything was easy with this fucking kid. Feeding, playing, exercising, listening… Everything.

And what’s more, she was happy. All. Of the fucking. Time. There was a good streak there when she would wake up with a smile on her face. We weren’t doing anything funny or exciting to get the kid out of bed, we were just waking her up. And she’d wake up like that for anyone.

Then one day the kid started reading. Out loud on her own. We didn’t prompt her. No one (to my knowledge) explained what the alphabet was and how it made words and how the words were also seen as well as heard.

Little Bear just figured that shit out all on her own. 

It didn’t take long for The Wife and I to realize that we had a bit of a genius  in our midst.

 

Eventually, Little Bear needed to stop shitting in the woods, as it were.

To recap her siblings similar journey:

  • Thing One liked to wait until the last minute before she Jackson- Pollocked her Underoo’s.
  • Thing Two was the Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi, if you will, of poo-hiding.

Much like her sister Thing One, Little Bear was incredibly hands-off when it came to peeing in her potty chair. At her young age, with her voracious intellect she knew that if she needed to ‘make water’ her little pink potty chair that was by the side door (going outside) was more than happy to catch for her.

Getting her to empty the damn thing was always hard. There were more than a few times when she’d use it without our knowing and then a day or two later things would be kind of foul smelling. Hence, my placement by the side door.

You’re goddamn right I dumped it outside. As long as there weren’t any Poop Snakes hiding in the Pink Throne, what the hell did it matter?

Also like her older sister, Pooping was always a hassle. The difference between the two was that Little Bear held on to her stinky-ness until she had the mid section of a malnourished Somalian child. (As I write this, I still don’t fully understand it. Everyone poops. Just because you’re a female doesn’t mean that your street cred diminishes every time someone learns that you don’t actually poot talcum powder).

To date, Little Bear’s inability to be reasonable and poop daily was only remedied within the past year and a half. ‘How did you fix that?’, you’re undoubtedly wondering.

When I would notice the tell-tale Somalian belly sign, I’d ask her in a calm and passive voice, ‘When’s the last time you pooped?’. If she started to hem and/or haw, I’d tackle her, yell out ‘POOP MASSAGE!!!’ and I would start rubbing her distended belly like a wad of dough.

Cruel and unusual? Hell no: The kid would be overcome with the giggles every time. Result? A svelte looking Little Bear the next day.

In Sum

In short, you can consult any source that you want. The bottom line is that if you want your kid to use the john you need to do three things:

  1. Learn how to read them. Kids aren’t any different than grown adults: they telegraph the fuck out of most emotions.
  2. Lead by example. That’s right, they need to watch you go. Creepy at first but it’s no different than using a public restroom. Trade Secret? If it’s just you and the kid at home, leave the bathroom door open when you go. They’ll wander in if they want. Just be sure to give the Significant Other a ‘head’s up’.
  3. Set a routine. The success rate of any child doing anything at all is dependent on the routine that the parent(s) set up for the child. Reading, learning to walk, learning to do anything for that matter.. Want your kid to use the potty sooner, rather than later? SET UP A MOTHERFUCKIN’ ROUTINE. 

The Horrors of Potty Training part 2.

Today we pick up where I left off the other day when I was regaling you about the time my Eldest Child was being potty trained, and building upon the fact that whatever you may read from a parenting book, your child will prove your wrong.

My son was no less difficult when it came to sitting down on the toilet. 

Boys, in general, need a different approach when it comes to toilet training. Again, I’m sure you’re thinking “another one for the No Shit, Sherlock file”. Stick with me.

From what I remember, Middle Child didn’t trust the process at first. That is not to say that we didn’t educate him. I can unequivocally state that it was impressed upon him that the diapers would eventually have to go (and that they would be replaced with big boy pants) and that white thing next to the bathtub that his mother, father, and sister sat on from time to time would handle all of the pee pee and poo poo he could put into it when he was ready to break from his potty chair.

Additionally, Middle Child had relatively the same support group that Eldest Child did. What he had going in his favor was that his mother and father were a bit older and a bit wiser about the entire process of getting a child house-broken.

What kept Middle Child from taking and using the throne sooner rather than later was his complete and utter aversion to change. Yes, that’s right: At the ripe, old age of TWO he was a little old man. Seriously, he’s still like that to some extent (he’s nine years old, now).

When it came to him pissing himself, everything’s a bit foggy for me. I think I managed to get him to think about not doing that by way of letting him pee in the kitchen sink. Relax prudes: it’s not like it was a sink full of dishes. It was an empty sink.

As I remember it, one day after work, I had finished the dishes and Middle Child was next to me. Why and what he was doing is completely lost to me. In all likelihood, he probably was doing to pee pee dance.

“Do you want to pee in the sink?”, I asked him.

“UH HUH” he replied.

So I helped him out with a kitchen chair and he mortared himself so he would have full range of the kitchen sink and hey presto! The kid managed to have a dry evening. We didn’t make a habit of this and quickly transitioned him to peeing in the toilet by the end of the week.

Middle Child was no different from Eldest Child when it came to pooping. Again, maybe it had to do with the fact that it was a weird and potentially horrible smelling sensation for a miniature human to go through. I have no clue what their problems were. But when it came to pooping in his pants, Middle Child didn’t give a fuck. 

Unlike his older sister, Middle Child doesn’t have a catastrophic poo story attached to his legend. However, I do remember him being a bit of a magician when it came to him and his poo.

Many times, I’d poke my head in the bedroom he shared with his sister and he’d be standing there, next to his toy train table, watching Thomas the Train in his underoos (which would be sullied by the bulky, brown tail he had grown between my previous and current check ups).

Other times, he’d just hide it. Literally, he’d remove said poo from Under the train table, under the bed, didn’t matter: Why he never just put it in the toilet is beyond me.

Things got to the point between Middle Child and his mother where he was forced to use the potty one evening. There was no “laying of hands” on anyone. Wife said, “YOU’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING UNTIL YOU POOP IN THE POTTY”. Or something to that effect.

Credit must be given to Middle Child as he hung in there for better part of any hour. Eventually, he realized that his mother would not be swayed and there was nothing that Dad (me) could do about it. So, he pooped in the potty. And then had a minor freak out as he could not feel his legs.

Thus concludes another episode that supports my claim that anything you can read in a book about child-rearing will be ripped asunder when you eventually get a child of your own.

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The Horrors of Potty Training (Part 1 of 3).

Throughout the early years of my children’s stay on this Earth, I have ably concluded that there is absolutely no good way to teach a tea-cup human (read: child) to shit in a hole (read: bucket, toilet, box, hole, etc.). Read as many books as you want on the subject. Listen to your mother’s advice. Listen to the advice of your friends who have gone through it with their own kids. Get up on that internet and get your google-fu working.

I guaran-fucking-tee that whatever plan you settle on, your wiggle worm will shit all over it and make you feel stupid in the process. 

I humbly submit to you part one of my three regarding how children learned to use the toilet. Caveat Emptor: what follows is the general idea of what happened. I may get a detail or two confused given that:

  1. I was a member of the workforce during the times that the first two children were potty trained.
  2. Dealing with other people’s shit (even if you made that person) is fucking disgusting.

From what I can remember, Eldest Child had a lot of encouragement when it came to the potty training. Mom had read books on the subject and is the type of person that can be counted on when it came to due diligence on a given subject. Potty chairs and potty seats were utilized as well.

Additionally, at any given time, Eldest Child had myself and her mother (no, Eldest Child biologically isn’t my child, I’ll write about that eventually), her daycare provider (both her mother and I were working full time) she had her father’s family, my family, and my wife’s mother (Eldest Child’s grandmother) all telling her the wonders of pooping on the potty.

For the most part, Eldest Child was pretty good about it. From what I can remember, peeing was a breeze for her. Pooping, on the other hand, was a bit of a challenge. I guess it had to do with the fact that she was a girl and girls have a natural aversion to smelly things coming out of their backside. Youngest child was the same way to some extent.

Hell, maybe she thought it was concentrated evil coming out of there. Kids have tiny brains, it’s plausible. 

The last full blown accident I remember Eldest Child having occurred right before we moved out of our first apartment.

Her mother and I were retail employees. Given the volatility of that line of work, having a set schedule was near to impossible. However, I had just started a job that did have a set schedule (for the time being) so that allowed me to be the person who was home when it was time for the daycare provider to drop off Eldest Child.

The routine was: I would be the first one home. I’d then receive Eldest Child, give her about 20 minutes to get used to being at home, then I would put her down for her afternoon nap so I could unwind after a day of work.

One day, Eldest Child was a tad more persnickety than usual. I didn’t think too much of it as I was dead on my feet from training. I knew that she would be outgrowing the nap phase soon, I just didn’t want it to be that day. As such, I put on some Strawberry Shortcake in her bedroom and closed the door behind me.

20 minutes had gone by before I had started to hear movement again.

The tossing and turning of bed coverings. The thumpty-thump of little feet trying to ninja despite the fact that they didn’t really know what a ninja was. The rustle of paper. 

That’s what I heard for 10 minutes. Then she tried to open the door. 

She tried really hard to open the door for a solid three minutes. I was on the other side of that door and down the hall trying to figure out what in the fuck was going on in there.

Then she knocked. 

I might come off as a dick in my writings but I was polite enough to come down the hall and open the door for her.

Oh, what a sight spread out before me!

There was shit everywhere. 

On the bed. On most of the floor. All over her (for the most part). Remember when I said she had trouble opening the doors? Yeah, that’s because her hands were covered with shit and the doorknob kept slipping.

I don’t recall what was said between the two of us. However, Eldest Child was like a new kid. That persnickety-ness she came home with? Apparently it was concentrated evil that needed to be exorcised.

I spent the rest of my afternoon cleaning the beshatted child and bedroom. After that incident it was relatively smooth sailing of the sea of the potty trained for Eldest Child.

As you can see, no amount of training, encouragement, or book learning can prepare you for the day your child will Jackson Pollack their underoo’s on a Hiroshima level. 

Come back tomorrow for how potty training went with Middle Child (aka The Boy).