Potty Training Fail

So here’s what happened. Here’s why Tighe might never eat his cereal off that coffee table again and why I’m currently burning every scented candle we own, and yet I can still faintly smell poop. And of course, Sam is the culprit.


We arrived home from the store one morning this week—just Sam and me and too many bags of groceries.


But Sam’s pants were wet. And his socks were wet. Some combination of stomping in puddles in the parking lot and trying to dance in Wally’s water bowl when we got home.


So, fine, Sam. Yes, we can take your shoes and socks and pants off. And yes, your shirt, too, even though it’s not wet. Yes, let’s throw them in the dryer, so they’ll be dry after lunch.


A few minutes later, as I was shoving cereal boxes into the cabinet above the toaster—who am I, Jerry Seinfeld?—Sam ran by naked, waving his diaper in the air like he’d just won Capture the Flag.


“What? Why are you naked? I just changed your diaper!”


And I had, too. That diaper was fresh, about twenty minutes old.


“Ok, fine. How about you sit on your Elmo toilet?”


We haven’t formally changed our Facebook status to “potty training” yet, but when the opportunity presents itself—like when Sam irreverently removes his diaper in the family room—I take advantage of it.


A few minutes later, as I was preparing to marinate some chicken for dinner, he ran in victorious again! He pulled me into the other room to show me his little puddle of urine in the bottom of his potty chair.


“Yay, Sambo!” So proud of himself.


He swished his hand around in the shallow yellow pool, and then high-fived me. All in one motion.


I winced.


Disgusting. Yet… “Good job, Sam!” I forced out some praise and dragged him to the bathroom to clean him up.


Success. Gross, but success. What I didn’t manage to do, however, was to affix another diaper onto his limber little body. He’d already pooped that day, and he never poops more than once a day. Once-A-Day-Sam, that’s what we call him. Like a geyser.


Unless, of course, I happen to buy him a blueberry and spinach smoothie that morning. In that case, he’ll poop a total of four times in the next twelve hours.


A minute or two later, my fingers deep into chicken thighs in the kitchen, I heard grunting.


“Sam?” I called out. “Are you pooping?”




“Are you sitting on your Elmo toilet?”




I sprinted into the other room to find him squatting on top of the coffee table! Red-faced! His little butt less than an inch from the surface!


“No! No, no, no, no, nooooo!”


Careful not to contaminate him with chicken-thigh-salmonella—why do I bother?—I scooped his armpits up with my forearms. Like a forklift, I lowered him to the potty chair.


But it was too late. Small turds dotted the coffee table. The coffee table. In our house! Feces on a table in civilized country! A new low.


Tighe eats his cereal every morning on that coffee table! So does Sam, actually, but he apparently doesn’t give a shit.


I’ll spare you the details of the clean-up process, but suffice it to say there was a lot of scrubbing. A lot of Lysol. A lot of Clorox. And a lot of tears. Mixed in with some incredulous giggling by me. This is my life now?


I think it’s safe to eat off that table now—though you won’t find me doing so. There should be no germs within a five-foot radius of Ground Zero, and the aroma of the apple-cinnamon-vanilla-island-mango candles is finally starting to overpower the stench of feces. That table will never be the same, though. I think I rubbed the finish right off that thing.


Who wants to come over for some nachos on Super Bowl Sunday? I’ll serve them right on the coffee table!