Volume One, Issue Fifty-Three: The One About Trying to Potty Train the Two-Year-Old

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Marlene Dietrich died on May 6, 1992, at the age of 90.

May 6, 2017

If you know me in real life, rather than the simulacrum terrordome that the internet has become, one of the major pieces of biographical information you have about me is that I am unable to smell. I have never been able to smell, at least as far as I can remember; the going theory is that I lost my sense of smell when I had scarlet fever in kindergarten. I’ve written about this before. It’s called Hyposemia, and I suppose it’s the only real condition or illness I have. It’s not much of one, but it’s great for tricks at parties.

My wife and I got a note this week from my younger son Wynn’s preschool. He goes to the First Presbyterian Church preschool here in Athens, which means he knows more Bible songs at the age of three than most of my friends. It’s a wonderful school, and they love him there, and he has (probably) just one more year there until he graduates to the world of pre-K. Once you’re in pre-K, you’re in grade school, where William, my older son is, and once you’re there, next thing you know, it’s middle school, then high school, then college, then they’re gone and you’re nothing but someone they feel guilty about not calling more. IT’S ALL ALMOST OVER IT’S HAPPENING SO FAST LIFE IS FLEETING EVERY MOMENT IS PRECIOUS SERIOUSLY IT’S ALL ALMOST OVER.


Anyway, here is what the note said:

Your child is entering the three-year-old program this fall. All children in our three-year-old class are required to be fully potty trained. Excitement and distractions can come with a classroom setting, so please make all efforts to address potty training early in the summer so training is fully established. Thank you.

Wynn, suffice it to say, has shown little to no interest in “addressing potty training.” Boys always are slower to use the toilet than girls are, because boys are dumber and less eager to please and sometimes more stubborn and also much dumber and more easily distracted and also dumber. And Wynn is particularly headstrong, much more than his older brother, who, like his father, is more eager to please and follow rules than he is to stick to his guns. Which means this summer is going to be a battle. Now we have a specific deadline for potty training. It has to be done at the end of the summer. The chase is on.

As nice as it will be for Wynn to discover the joys of taking one’s time while adjusting his fantasy baseball team’s lineup on the John, I’ll confess a certain sadness about this impending process. Wynn will be our last child — I went through this, so if my wife ends up pregnant, she and I are going to have a very serious conversation — which means every step he makes it through is a step we’ll never go through again. Once he’s done with preschool, we’ll never have a preschool kid again. Once he rides a bike, we’ll never teach our kid to ride a bike again. Once he grows a beard, we’ll never have a kid with less facial hair than me again. And once he gets rid of the diaper, that’s it: No more diaper changing, ever again.

Most parents, of course, are excited to get rid of the diaper, and why not? It always seems an upside to have a bit fewer amounts of openly displayed human manure in your life. I know it’s for the best. But it’s a bummer, because when Wynn is out of diapers, it will end my favorite Hyposemia party trick, one I’ve been doing for more than five years now, since William was born.

You will want to make sure as many people are watching as possible. It is not a complicated trick.

1. Take the diaper off the child.

2. Stick your face deep into the diaper. Be careful not to in fact touch the excrement with your nose.


3. Inhale as deeply as humanly possible, as if you have been underwater for two minutes and need this gasping, heaving breath to survive.


4. Feel nothing. But laugh as everyone around you collapses.


I will miss this joke. I really will.

Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)

1. What Can Fans Do About Incidents Like Adam Jones’ at Fenway? Sports On Earth. Is Albert Breer still going on and on about this? I have no particular beef with Adam Breer, he seems all right generally, gives good info, but man, you gotta learn to put the phone away, man. There is nothing good happening for you here. Twitter is a disease on our brains and on our souls.

2. Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” The New Republic. It’s good! I liked it more than the first one, actually

3. Kentucky Derby Names, Ranked, Sports On Earth. Just an annual excuse to make a bunch of dumb jokes. I do love the Kentucky Derby, though.

4. NBA Playoff Rootability Rankings, Sports On Earth. Admit it: You want to see Cavaliers-Warriors again. So do I.

5. The NL Wild-Card Race Will Be Crazy, Sports On Earth. I’m in a very dark place with the Cardinals right now.

6. The Dumbest Sports Stories of March 2017, Sports On Earth. This was a less dumb month than usual.

7. Eighteen Strange Ways to Fill Out an All-Star Ballot, Sports On Earth. This wasn’t the strongest week of pieces. I had family in town.

8. Dive Into Five, Sports On Earth. Pick me, pick me yea/Live alone, lone single/At least, at least yeah/Everyone is hollow.

Grierson & Leitch, Grierson and I lamented just how bad The Circle is, then dug into A Streetcar Named Desire and A History of Violence.

The Will Leitch Experience, Alyson Footer back!

Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, no show this week. We’re taping one Tuesday next week, though.

Was at the Cardinals-Braves game last night with Bryan Leitch. 10-0! Sunday is William’s first Cardinals game. GO. BIRDS.


Have a great weekend, everyone. Try not to develop any preexisting conditions.


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