Potty Training Superman

by Pat Harrell

“Daddy, I’m poopy!”

I have heard those words a thousand times before, but that night my mind was miles away as I focused on another writing deadline with hopeful abandon. True, my three-year-old son and most recent heir to the Harrell fortune, was potty training.
I rejoiced in True’s announcement since my wife and I had finally convinced him to inform us of his bio-needs before—not after–their urgent arrival. As I faced my little herald of nature’s call, my fading memory reminded me potty training meant True was not wearing a pull-up diaper anymore. True was in his “big boy” underwear.
Uh-oh. You experienced dads know exactly what this means, and I will leave it at that.
When I first saw True in his red cape, blue shorts, and matching shirt with the large, yellow “S,” I chuckled as he dashed about the living room faster than a speeding bullet. My creative wife bought superhero pajamas for the boys, since even superheroes have to sleep. My five-year-old son, Story, cherished his Batman pajamas, so now I had not one but two superheroes protecting me. I am tremendously pleased to announce the crime rate has dropped in our neighborhood.
Sometime in the evening as I tangled with adjectives, True donned his crime-fighting costume to tangle with bad guys lurking about the house. Superman grinned at me and proudly repeated, “I’m poopy!”
Being a guy, my first impulse was to call for my wife and inform her that “her son” was poopy. It was a nice try, but Belinda was away on her weekly Tuesday night out to talk with other adults and to regain her sanity. My second impulse was to wonder when I was getting my night out.
Wading through my boiling vat of selfishness, I could not think of a thing to say to Superman. These were his precious pajamas, and I could not burn them, so I dealt with the situation. You experienced dads know exactly what this means, and I will leave it at that.
At dinnertime I always ask my kids what they learned in school. I hope to hear stirring renditions of geographic facts and exciting tales of math tests well conquered, or view stunning demonstrations of magnificent handwriting. Reality is much different when a child is sick, my wife is pregnant, or one of the kids is potty training. Reality says, “Dad, we mopped the bathroom and bathed True six times today.” Reality trusts your wife when she moans there are days when home school just does not work. I have to accept this and understand that sanitizing your little brother probably fulfills the Good Citizenship mandate of the Texas home school laws.
As I began disinfecting True, I summoned my other superhero, Halley, the twelve-year-old Wonder Girl, who is both wise and tall beyond her years. Halley feeds herself and others and works miracles around the house. She is a beautiful, capable young lady, but about nine years earlier there were many mops, sponges, and baths launched in her honor. So what changed?
Long, long ago (about nine years, actually), my wife and I sought God’s vision for our little girl. He blessed us with an image of a darling young lady who helped her mother around the house. An impression of a delightful woman who washed, sewed, and cleaned as she talked to her friends for hours on the phone (remember, this is reality). We directed our firstborn toward that vision.
My sons are now five and three years old. They are goofy, and I love it. What, however, is God’s vision for my sons at twelve? Watching TV while Mom folds clothes? Nope. Playing in their room while Dad fixes the car? Not a chance. God’s plan for my twelve-year-old boys is that they be godly, wise, helpful, holy, fun protectors of their home who mow the yard and play golf with their dad. (I really like that last part of God’s vision.)
Dads, the two keys are prayer and patience. Pray for God to show you His vision for your kids. Then patiently pursue that vision with your kids. You will need patience when your kids “help” you fix the car and scatter your sockets all over the yard.
As my superhero Halley disposed of the hazardous materials from True’s nuclear accident, I commented about her future husband. “Halley, don’t you even consider a young man as husband unless he is willing to get up at 3 a.m. and help you clean up after an exploded child.” Halley giggled in her way that makes me happy to be her dad, and I marveled at what God had done in an extremely fast nine years and at what He was going to do in another nine. You experienced dads know exactly what this means, and I will leave it at that.

If you would like to share your thoughts on all of this or need to borrow some superheroes, please contact me at pharrell@fni.com.

Pat and Belinda Harrell have homeschooled since 1995. They have five jolly children , and the loudest house on the block. If you contact Pat by email, he promises to write back.