Monday, April 6, 2009

The Line

Jake is getting interested.

"Pee pee? Potty? Pee-pee in potty? In there?" It's a pretty exciting development. After all, what mother isn't entranced at the idea of a not-quite-two-year-old falling in love with the promise of a toilet?

But, see, well... Jake is interested in everything. He wants to watch others on the potty ("he's in here for the show!" the nanny called through the closed bathroom door the other day.) And, more than anything, he wants to help. He comes in to watch, standing sentry while I keep up my end of the conversation. "Yes Jakey, Mommy is going pee-pee in the potty!" He carefully pulls off a few sheets of paper from the roll - each movement infused with that intense, careful deliberation that is the hallmark of toddler explorations. And he hands me paper saying "Paper? Boom-boom?, which is toddler for "can I help you wipe your ass, mommy?"

Jake's new found toilet fixation has replaced his footwear fetish. I don't mean to say shoes have completely evaporated from the list of fun options (although Zach seems a little more excited to clomp around in Mommy's heels these days.) But gone are the days when Jake scrambles into my lap and tugs at my stockings and the zipper of my boots. (Yep. Fetish. I did not use the phrase lightly.)

Now he's all about the toilet. And, well, helping.

Which, honestly, feels a little, well... weird.

How do I teach my children to navigate cultural norms, but avoid forcing them into rigid, cultural constraints handed down from those Puritans of yore? When does encouragement and openness cross the line to inappropriate? And is that line even relevant for a not-quite-two-year-old with a burgeoning fascination for the porcelain God?

It's not like we don't continue to evolve on things like this as a culture. After all, we can show ankles these days without fear of recrimination (or the stocks). And blood and vomit permeate our entertainment. (Although human excrement doesn't seem to get as many Hollywood minutes.)

But still... we're not fully evolved yet. And I didn't let him help.

"No Jakey. Mommy does that herself. Thank you for trying to help, but people should touch their own private parts." Thank goodness he is only not-quite-two, and didn't immediately jump to the obvious hypocrisy After all, who, exactly changes his diapers? It's not like that's a solo act.

Of course, that's the good thing about twins. When they aren't developmentally in sync, you get a built-in, near-term do-over.

Maybe by the time Zach wants to see the show and lend a helping hand, I'll have figured out how - and where - to draw that line.


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