Is it just me, or is Eloise the only one her age still in diapers? “She’ll let you know when she’s ready,” they’ve told me. Until now, I’ve used those reassurances as a free pass to avoid the issue altogether, mostly because I was too tired taking care of a baby to start cleaning up accidents.
But Baby is now a toddler, and Eloise is 2 ½. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment: We weaned Charlotte off the bottle last week, so throw whatever’s next at me – I’m ready! My “Guide to Toilet Training” is in hand, “Elmo’s Potty Time” is in the DVD player, there’s an enormous sticker chart on the bathroom wall and a bounty of rewards to be claimed upon Eloise’s first success: a new Backyardigans DVD, Cars stickers and more M&Ms than she ever knew existed.
As one would expect, there are literally hundreds of children’s books dedicated to the subject of potty training. One of the funniest I’ve come across – and you have to have a sense of humor when potty training – is Jeanne Willis’ “Who’s in the Bathroom?”
Originally titled, “Who’s in the Loo?,” this transplant from England is written from the perspective of two children waiting impatiently, then uncomfortably, at the end of a very long line to a public bathroom. Possibly to pass the time, the children ponder who could be taking so long in there and why:
“Is it a rhino passing some gasses?
It could be a tortoise. (They’re slow as molasses!)
Whoever it is, we hope that he dashes.”
Willis’ punchy rhymes are accompanied by Adrian Reynold’s cartoon-like illustrations, popping with color and depicting, at times, somewhat repulsive scenarios: a monkey washing his feet in the bowl and a cat “sailing off to a city of yuck.” I suspect only the parents of young children can truly appreciate this “toilet humor;” when else do we talk so openly and unabashedly about pooping and peeing, piddling and widdling?
Out of curiosity (and in an attempt to gauge the maturity of my sense of humor), I read over the book’s customer reviews on Amazon.com. Five of six reviewers raved and gave it five stars, but I had to laugh when I read this review from a woman named Diane:
“I read this book with my 6-year-old granddaughter. She was quite amused until we came to the drawing of a shepherd holding one of his sheep upside down with its head in the toilet. The shepherd is using his sheep as a ‘toilet bowl brush.’ This was disturbing to both of us. Not a book we’ll ever be reading again.”
More than anything, I guess I was just surprised Diane found this to be the most offensive image.
I like this book because, in the sea of bland books focused on proper toilet use, it gives a parent cause to laugh when little else does in the midst of potty training. The book stands out with its original plot, unexpected characters (I never knew what a stoat was until I read this book) and a true surprise ending. When the children just can’t hold it any longer, they cut to the front of the line, bang on the door and demand to know what’s going on: “We hear a small voice. It says, ‘If only you knew, I’m just doing what my mom told me to do. But it takes me forever; no one understands.”