I guess I thought that Shlomo knew the difference between sitting on the toilet, which is allowed, and playing with the toilet or stuffing things in it, which is not allowed. I guess I thought wrong.
Really, I should have known better. After all, we’ve gone through this before. After the first few times he was on the toilet, we got one of those little toilet seats for him. Shlomo loved it; I sat him down on it and his face lit up. You could see him thinking, “Wow, I feel safe – I’m not going to fall – and I’m sitting on the toilet just like a big person! This is great!” After that, though, he decided that the toilet was now permitted – in all respects. He started playing with it (because, as I said, our toilet lock broke), and put some toy or other into the toilet. Obviously, we told him very quickly that the toilet is NOT a toy. And, other than the duck incident a week or so ago, he has been pretty good about it.
Today, Yitzchak was changing Shlomo’s [poopy] diaper, and saw the poop hole move. So, feet sticking straight up into the air, perpendicular to his torso, Shlomo was taken to the toilet. Just when Yitzchak had given up and was putting the diaper back on, Shlomo looked like he was going to poop again. So back on the toilet he went. In the end, nothing came out into the toilet. But, Shlomo pooped out a couple of crumbs (that stuck to his bottom) while on the toilet. Better than nothing, right? It’s a step in the right direction. We let him keep his truck-sounds book (which is the toilet book, because it makes the toilet fun AND spares me from having to hear truck noises all day, every day) for a while after getting off.
And then, later, I walk into the bathroom to start a bath for Shlomo. And I see a very common, but also widely dreaded, scene: The toilet is stuffed with toilet paper, and in the middle, right on the top of the toilet paper, is one of Shlomo’s socks. I called him over and asked him what he had done. He gave me the guilty look, and started backing away.
I said, “What are you going to do to fix it? Do you need an idea?” He didn’t respond, so I said, “See all this paper? We can’t flush it down the toilet, because that would clog the pipes. It needs to go in the garbage.” At this point, he looked at me like I was crazy. I repeated that it had to go in the garbage, and I took his hand and helped him take some out.
Now, you have to understand: Shlomo is a clean freak. Touching soggy toilet paper is not his idea of fun. He pulled his hand away; I took it back. I’m a clean freak, also. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to get done, and that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have to help. He did this; he will have to help clean it up. So I took his hand again – and he pulled it back, again.
Again, I took his hand, and with me doing most of the picking up, we took some of the toilet paper and put it in the bathroom garbage. He clearly wasn’t enjoying it; he also clearly understood the reason why he had to help. By the time we were done, he was helping me pick it up, instead of holding his hand stiff. We stuck our hands in the toilet and pulled out the cardboard. Apparently, this was at least half a roll (I tend to think it was a whole roll, but maybe I’m imagining it). When it was finally at a flushable amount, I flushed the toilet, washed both of our hands, and praised him for helping so much.
Then we changed his diaper, and he had a bath – which, if you remember, was the original reason I had walked into the bathroom. Hopefully, the fact that he hated taking soggy toilet paper out of the toilet and sticking his hand into pee, will make sure that he never does this again.
It’s all about separating the business from the play, right?