Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Urine Trouble

It's one of the cardinal rules of parenting. One of the Commandments. One of the unspeakable truths.

Your child tells you she has to go pee-pee on the potty, and you take her to the potty. No detours. No delays. No questions asked. No matter where. No matter when. No matter what.

Even those times you know for sure - or at least 99% sure - in your heart, in your soul, and in your mind that she doesn't have to go. You have to take her. She just went a half an hour ago? Doesn't matter. If she says she has to go, you go.

Well, the Peanut now uses her newfound skill of peeing on the potty as a weapon. As a negotiating tool. Hell, it's a stall tactic is what it is. She doesn't want to go to bed. She doesn't want us to leave the room. She's searching for anything to hold on to us. And when she's exhausted all of her resources, she's asked for multiple kisses from us and from the dog, multiple books have been read, multiple songs have been sung. A drink of water has been procured. Then she says, "I have to pee-pee on the potty."

In this instant, my wife and I look at each other, and we must decide in that split second if our daughter, our shrewd little clever girl, is bluffing. Even if she is, we have no choice. Or do we?

In a moment of frustration, weakness, and exhaustion, we each break the cardinal rule. The Commandment. We each speak against the unspeakable truth. "Just go in your diaper," I say, knowing full well that's the last thing I should have said. She wears a diaper to bed, just in case. But suggesting she use it intentionally is worse than uttering the name "Voldemort" in the wizarding world.

"Wait until morning," my wife then said, right after me, a look of disbelief at the words as they were coming out of her mouth. And there you have it. Both of us, guilty as charged. Bless us, Father, for we have sinned.

Now we have to follow through. We say goodnight and close the door,

The crying now starts full blast. "I have to peeeee-peeeeee. Mommmyyyy, dadddddyyy, I haa-haa-haavvvvee to peeeee-peeeee. Waaaaaahhhhh" Oh, my God. What have we done?

Tough Cop Sipowicz
We open the door, and in this next moment, without even discussing a plan, instincts take over. We transform into good cop, and bad cop. I am, of course, bad cop. Andy Sipowicz. Ready to squash this perp into submission. My wife leaves the room. Goes downstairs. Just you and Detective Sipowicz, now, kid.

"Do you really have to pee-pee?" I notice right away it's hard to say "pee-pee" in a stern voice, with a straight face. Somehow I pull it off. "Uh-huh," she whimpers. "If you don't pee-pee," I warn her, "you're going to be in trouble."

I take her to the bathroom. And as soon as her little cheeks hit the seat, my suspicions are confirmed. She's faking. She's fidgeting, smiling, playing with the stickers on her potty chart. Trying to talk to me. Trying to change the subject. I'm not buying, not wavering. I'm all business, all about her doing her business.

"If you don't have to do pee-pee, then you told mommy and daddy a lie," I explain. "And that's very naughty. Lying is a big no." She's coy. She avoids answering questions, by answering with a question of her own. She's so cute I want to eat her up, but I keep my focus.

"If you don't do pee-pee, then I'm going to take away one of the things you took to bed with you. Lammie or one of your babies or one of your books" That's the badass Sipowicz we all know and love.

"Nooooo," she protests, weakly. "Yes. You told a lie to mommy and daddy and now you're in trouble." I can tell by the look on her face that she knows I'm serious. She's now stopped trying to be adorable, and is now deciding how she is going to survive this. In the corner of my eye, I see my wife, motioning to me from the bottom of the stairs. "Do you want me to come up?"

Bad cop's broken her down. Time for good cop to get the confession. Here she comes. Smooth. Likeable. Friendly. "Time to go to bed," she says. "And you get to choose the thing we're taking away." That's a nice touch. Pick your own punishment. Would you like the guillotine, or the noose? Waterboarding, or the method of a thousand cuts?

When she refuses to choose, my wife the good cop, goes in for the kill. "Then tell me the truth. Did you really have to go pee-pee?" Silence. "Did you really have to go pee-pee or did you just say that to make us stay?" And with that, she admits she lied. Score one for the boys in blue. Another confession. Another perp off the streets. Another day at the office.

But here's where we differ: While I didn't want to return the book we had taken away from her as punishment for lying, good cop wifey insisted on returning the book as a reward for admitting she lied. Bad cop wants to make her pay. Good cop doesn't feel like fighting any more fights.

Guess who won?

She went to sleep soon thereafter. Lesson learned... for all of us.

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