Tony Woodlief | Author

The Imp

We are potty training the imp. Our method has always been to let the child run about naked from the waist down, so that when the need hits there is an immediate awareness of no diaper. This means lately I’ve been greeted when I get home by a chubby little monkey in a sweatshirt and socks. “Hi Dad!”

“Isaac!” I like to kid him, “where’s your pants?”

“I don’t know!”

The training has been stretched out because we’re trying to sell our house, which means we get frequent calls informing us that we have to turn on all the lights and vacate the premises. No, we aren’t leaving the state, just this neighborhood. We have our sights set on a place that is more . . . us.

The point is, we have stretched out this boy’s potty training for too long. He now has no compunction about leaving little puddles — because he can’t just pee it all out at once — scattered about the kitchen. It’s like having a puppy, only a puppy can’t climb atop a table and jump up and down on it like a raving lunatic until it crashes to its side, landing (of course) on his fingers so that he has to get his first x-ray before he can say: “emergency room co-pay.”

But, there were Winnie-the-Pooh stickers involved, as well as a couple of pretty x-ray machine ladies who thought the boy was absolutely the cutest thing they had ever seen, so in the end I don’t think he learned a thing from the disaster, except that when you say “goodbye, ladies” to pretty x-ray machine women, they’re likely to come chasing after you to give you one more hug and another Winnie-the-Pooh sticker for good measure.

The primary reason we like to get our youngsters potty-trained around two years-old is very simple: the diapers are appalling. Especially for the imp, who is in the 3rd percentile for height, and the 96th percentile for weight. He’s not fat, but he is a thick chunk of barreling, screaming baby flesh. It takes a lot of food to sustain those numbers and that energy level.

His mother’s been teaching him exclamations that are acceptable alternatives to what he’s picked up from Dad. So, to tie it all up and let you get back to your Saturday, I’ve got the boy on the changing table, and we’re dealing with a Level 5 Hazmat disaster. As the wave of odor hits, I search my vocabulary for something that won’t earn me a smack upside my head from the wife, and, in a poop-inflicted stupor, I simply utter: “Oh!” Isaac takes this as his cue to teach me a few phrases.

“Oh boy! Oh bodder (bother)! Oh goodness! Oh mercy! Oh poo!”

“Amen to that,” I mutter.


I’ve never had a child so cute and such a terror all wrapped up in the same hyperactive bundle. He can’t walk anywhere, he has to run. He can’t speak, he has to shout. Food isn’t eaten, it’s gobbled. He even tackles sleep like it’s a bear that must be wrestled to submission. Everything is an adventure, in his eyes. It’s a good way to see the world.

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