"Can you remember your potty?"
I was washing up as I asked this of C who was finishing one of his one million reports on the computer.
"No." He didn't even look up.
It occurred to me that having spent his early formative years in a caravan in the frozen tundras of Gloustershire in the UK during the early 60s, C probably had to make do with a hole in the lino but I didn't suggest this. It made my own nostalgic glow for my big plastic elephant potty, with the happy smile and the oddly formal bow tie, seem... indulgent.
But after all, small people do spend a lot of time on their potty, I thought. Why shouldn't they be pleasant, or even comfortable?
Friday is Tricky's 2nd birthday and so on the weekend we did a little shopping at K-Mart.
I was actually after a motorbike, just a chunky no-frills plastic motorbike that he could sit on and zoom about the place. I have very strong memories of my youngest sister and her no frills plastic motorbike and the joy it gave her for many years. I know this is simply stting myself up for disaster ie. why should a toddler in 2008 necessarily enjoy what another toddler enjoyed in um 1982 simply because they're related and also um...toddlers, but I liked the simplicity of the concept.
It's not one of those ride on things that play nursery rhymes (he has one of those) or has a spinning around thing under the handles (his little friend Toby has one of those) or plays a succession of big band instruments (his little friend Jude has one of those), it is Just A Plastic Motorbike and all you can do is sit on it and use your feet to propel you along. If one wants, one can make brrrrm brrrm noises as well. Or as in my little sister's case wooof wooof noises because she was obsessed with puppy dogs.
And so the search began but of course it is always difficult to find exactly what one wants in a K-Mart. They are not designed for exact purchases they are designed to suck you into a vortex and barrage you with bright light and shedloads of stuff in the hopes that you may accidentally buy yourself a rice cooker and a microwave potato capsule when you only wanted a grater.
Also, I find the staff elusive and timid, shy of eyecontact with potential customers and fearful of giving actual advice on where anything the fuck is.
C and I planted young Tricky before a shelf full of exceedingly ugly plastic dinosaurs (that roar when you press their temples together) and ducked and weaved from aisle to aisle around him looking looking looking for non-fancy motor bike.
There were minor victories. I found the motorbike section and was jubilant for about 33 seconds until I realised it was was chockablock with fancy motorbikes, the musical, big band playing revolving sort as described above but also alternative pink ballerina versions of same because...I don't know... some advertising genius has realised that girls will only endure toy motorbikes and bikes in general if they are pink. And festooned with flowers. And tutus. God knows how I ever made it through childhood with a green dragster.
Luckily as we were leaving with our collective tails between our legs (and a god awful plastic T-Rex with squeezable temples ) C spotted exactly what I wanted, stacked amongst the (real) barbeques. I have no idea why the non-fancy plastic motorbikes were stacked with the barbeques but there you go. In some shy, retiring, staff member's mind it made perfect sense.
As we were leaving the inevitable happened and we were sucked into the "that's right I needed to get that" vortex emerging out the other side with... a potty.
Tricky has seen a potty in use at childcare by a couple of his fellow small people. A couple of times he has managed to wee in the toilet before a bath. We are not by any means rushing to potty train but it seemed like as good a time as any to purchase essential equipment. And we were in the vortex.
There was much head scratching and murmbling to ourselves as C and I discussed which potty/toddler toilet seat would be best. It became increasing clear that this was actually a conflict between his memory of the potty (ie. nothing) and mine (ie. Elly my friendly ride on wee on poo on elephant, with the bow tie and the raised trunk).
We seriously discussed all the pros and cons of each model. We struggled to separate stacks of potties that had been far too firmly wedged into place by some doe-eyed tightly wound staff member.
Not the blue Wiggles potty - too ridiculously expensive, not the padded Dora The Explorer toilet seat - too ridiculous to bear.
This potty wouldn't match the bathroom.
That potty was just a study in stupidity.
Tricky patiently filled his nappy waiting for us to make up our mind about which pot he would eventually crap in and attempted to shoplift a toasted sandwich maker (stacked carefully just near the heated toilet seats) out of sheer boredom.
Eventually we settled on a plain white one with a high back. Nothing fancy, nothing extravagant. Comfortable but not cushy.
And that night, while road testing it, Tricky managed the tiniest wee in the world. Cue ticker tape parade and dancing girls to celebrate.
Somehow, we've started potty training. In a very gentle, casual what-ho sort of way...
"This is a perfectly good potty," said C. "He's very happy with this."
It was true, he was happy, but it occurred to me that I could always apply a few stickers to brighten things up a little.
Attach some sort of music playing device to entertain him during those long waits. A big band music playing thing, say. Or a thing that spins around.
Or at the very least, a bow tie.
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