“Why hello Mom and Dad – L and I were just having a little visit,” his teacher said, her eyes seeking ours cautiously as this was our first “your kid is acting up” conversation we’ve had since her start in his classroom. As we enter the play yard, balls flying in all directions and scooters blazing by, we catch site of Little Dude with his back against the wall, feet splayed ahead of him in the spot reserved for those that made “sad choices.” Playing it cool and casual while my mind immediately went to playground smack downs, scuffles over bikes or gasp – encounters with learning scissors, I attempt to look open and relaxed when she goes to bring up the issue at hand:
“It seems we really like to call our friends names lately – and not their first names. Rather, they tend to be names we only use in the bathroom. And for some reason, it’s escalated lately.”
Little dude, now perched rigid in the crook of my elbow, hangs on every word Ms. J is sharing, his head dipping a little lower as he thoughtfully relived his decision of switching Lance, Logan or Garrett with “Poopy, Poopybutt, Sassy Pants or Stinky.” I speak fairly to Ms. J, thanking her for her feedback and provided her some examples of what we’ll work on at home. Little dude studies my body language intensely, likely assessing the amount of trouble he should anticipate when he gets home. Simultaneously, I cast a “I freaking told you so” glance at my husband, the instigator of pet names at home that quite frankly, don’t vary from the very slang little dude was flinging on the playground.
The drive home is quieter than most, his tirade of ratting out his friends and sharing highlights of his day replaced with what I perceived to be a bit of shame or perhaps just fatigue. Trying to distract him with the positive parts of the day, he clung to his lovey in angst and retreated to a quiet place in his head. Letting him go, we went through the motions of a regular evening in our household, including dinner, snuggles, gratitude, bath and quiet time.
Here is where he addresses it, sharing the lessons of the day such as calling our friends by their names and that the bathroom is where we use words like “poop” and “pee pee.” I breathe a sigh of relief at the patience and consistency of his teachers and find slight gratitude in that he’s potty trained – you know, because boycotting those words could get a bit confusing.
Twenty-four hours later Ms. J reports this behavior has radically improved, the motivator of avoiding the wall and continuing to play ball enough to deter the potty talk. One trip to Target and swim lessons later, he starts to throw out the terms in a fit of fatigue and cry for attention, and we break out the whole “say it in the bathroom” lingo. Ten minutes later, we can’t find him, which was unusual as he’s generally attached to Mommy’s knee. Listening closely, I hear the pitch of his two-year-old voice muffled behind a closed door somewhere and go to find him in:
Letting out all the verbal “poop” and “pee pee” and “stinky butt” terms that had apparently built up over the course of the day. One by one they rattle off his tongue in a stream of words that seem to pour out like a faucet in the very same room he had locked himself in.
And I too, find myself against a wall.
After all, they (and we) told him it was appropriate for a bathroom…
Well played, little dude. Well played.