Dear J-

You learn about the differences between can should may shall and will spending your weekends with kids. You can eat candy for lunch, but you probably will not. You shall listen, or may not do what you want to do. You should use the restroom now or else … yep. The boy has been protesting, now that he wears underwear, that he should be allowed to keep wearing it even overnight and while we’re out, and so far so good — you know, he was resistant to the idea of even wearing it at first, but now that he has it, he doesn’t want to go back and I can’t blame him for that. Now we revert back to the early potty-training model of always being aware of where the nearest bathroom is.

This is sort of like walking into a room and knowing where the exits and windows are, and then making sure you don’t put your back to any of those. The subtle instinct of making sure you know is not a very difficult task but one that requires a fair amount of research. We did go to two outdoor events this weekend and did a pullup for the first and underwear for the second; he made it fine the second day but I was pretty impressed nonetheless. From despair that he’d ever be able to learn to use the potty to amazement in two short months. The interim is not fun, but the rewards of success are bountiful and amazing. You may enjoy them.

There are few dealbreakers that keep us out of places, though we’ve become the sort of parents that other people write to manner columnists about (Dear Suzy, the people at the next table are being horrible and loud, and they can’t seem to control their kids. Should I say something? — Dear Reader, part of being socially graceful is accepting the things you can’t change, and you should feel sympathy, not contempt, for loud kids who are loud and their parents). Bathrooms are one; folks who demand perfectly-behaved children is another. It’s just not going to happen, not with these we’ve got and try to control, every now and again.


P.S. This is not to discount my daughter, who has turned out to be amazingly well-behaved and subtly controlling the flow of play and interactions with — I’m not going to call it an iron fist, more akin to a gentle touch of the reins. We ask her to do something and it gets done. I’m eternally grateful.


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