A stand off worthy of a spaghetti western ensues in our downstairs loo: 4:”Daddy wipe my botty” Me:”No you’re a big girl now” 4:”DAAADDYY!”
Generally we've been lucky with the way potty training has gone for our children.
When we adopted our son he was already used to using the loo, both during the day and, to our amazement and delight, during the night.
Our daughter was of course much younger when she joined our family. Even so, the tranition from nappies to pull ups to using the toilet normally went very well.
With the exception of bottom wiping.
For some time our daughter has had the hang of using the toilet. We may have the occasional nighttime mishap. These have been more frequent recently as she has started full days at primary school.
The youngest in her year, a full day in the Reception Class has tested her stamina, resulting in her falling into bed in the evening exhausted and sleeping soundly and very deeply.
Preparation for 'big school' involved lessons in bottom wiping. Lessons she approached eagerly.
Walking into the kitchen at dinner time waving a piece of toilet paper she had successfully used. Displaying it proudly. A smelly, unhygienic badge of honour to be paraded at our family mealtime.
Partially in an attempt to ensure that particularly gross event isn't repeated, I've continued to offer help in the bottom wiping department through this first half term of her time at school.
So when half term came around I thought it was time to put an end to this final act of parental toiletry involvement. Our daughter had other ideas.
"Daaaadddyyy, wipe my botty?" Came the call on Monday afternoon.
"You're a big girl now, why don't you try and do it yourself." I answered.
"I can't." Our daughter's response was succinct.
"Try for me. I can't come at the moment, I'm busy." I responded. And waited.
A few moments of silence lulled me into a false sense of security. Was she perhaps complying?
"DAAADDDDDYYYY!" The cry was a strange mix of plaintive and angry. "PLEEAAASSEE!" Politeness being a fall back position for our daughter which, in the past, has tended to work.
"No, you manage it at school. Try and do it yourself today."
The wailing started. And went on. And on. And on.
My resolve undiminished I thought it best to leave the meltdown to run its course. When, after 5 minutes there was no sign of it ending I thought it best to just check that nothing else was wrong.
I knocked on the bathroom door. "You OK? Have you wiped your bottom yet?"
Our daughters invective was direct. To the point. "I CAN'T! YOU'RE HORRIBLE! YOU'RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE!"
"Just let me know when you're finished," I said, retreating.
The screaming brought our eight year old son to the scene. Revelling in any situation where his sister may be getting into trouble our son generally turns up. This time the opportunity of pouring smug opprobrium on his sister was just too much.
"Why are you screaming?" Our son asked as innocently as a grinning, 8 year old who's revelling in his sister's discomfort can.
"Daddy won't wipe my botty!" Our daughter sobbed through deep, snotty draughts of air.
Our son drew himself up to his full, faux adult height and crossed his arms. "You should wipe you're own bottom. You're a big girl now. You did it yourself at school!"
His four year old sister collapsed. Wailing. Loudly. "NO!" She screamed.
Our son could hold it in no longer. "Stinky Bum!"
"GO AWAY! YOU"RE NOT MY FRIEND ANY MORE EITHER!" His sister wailed hysterically.
After 25 minutes I felt I should return and check on the state of the bathroom. Wailing. Sobbing. Wailing. Angry soliloquies full of the denouncements of the downtrodden and oppressed had followed one another.
The toilet floor was strewn with paper.
"Wiped your bottom?" I asked with some trepidation.
"Yes!" Our daughter sobbed.
"Good girl! I knew you could do it." I praised.
"IT WASN'T ME! IT WAS YOU!" She screamed and barged past me headed in the direction of her bedroom.
The wailing and sobbing continued. This time from within the Laura Ashley style tee-pee which as pride of place in a corner of her bedroom.
There, surrounded by her soft toy collection, our daughter stayed for a further forty five minutes. Staging a sit in that would have been familiar to many of those attending Greenham Common in the mid 80's. Only with more flowers. No mud. And lots of pink unicorns.
There's a postscript to this story.
Sitting in my office the following morning our daughter came in and stood beside me.
"I did a poo." She said in a matter of fact manner.
Before I could ask the obvious question she provided the answer.
"And I wiped my own botty. Just so YOU know!" Turning on her heel she flounced out of the room with the attitude of the most dramatic Diva.
The last word, quite rightly, was hers.