Planes, trains and watery accidents

My 2 1/2 year old son has been undergoing toilet training for about 6 weeks now, and I have to say he’s doing a lot better than I ever expected him to. Boys are, after all, meant to be a lot slower on the uptake when it comes to the learning about when to poop and pee, and when to clench and hold.

Of course there have been accidents. One next to the sofa, one in the bedroom where he shut the door on himself and couldn’t get out, and a handful around the bathroom – normally as a result of him misjudging the volume of wee in his bladder and shooting off the potty before he’s completed the job.

Trying to shoo the dog away as I re-dress, empty, bleach and wipe is the hardest part of all.

Unfortunately my sons days at nursery do set him back sometimes. Whether it’s the excitement of finger painting or the 15 or so other kids queuing up for the potty, some days I go to collect him and am met with a bag of wet clothes and a rather nasty smelling teddy. The washing machine never had such a good work out for so few clothes. One day, when he had gotten through all 3 sets of spare clothes in his Bob the Builder backpack, I arrived to find him wafting around the room wearing nothing more than a kimono from the dressing up box. That was one of those occasions when you wish you had a camera to hand.

As with many things in life, thinking about doing something is often worse than actually doing the deed. The very idea of replacing nappies with pants on a leaking child is one such time. I found the only way to really stay one step of the game in the beginning was to spend every 4th minute asking him if he needed to go, and then ferrying him backwards and forwards to the potty, armed with 16 books and a thermos of tea (for me). It was monotonous and repetitive, but it did the trick. After a while, and probably because he got so damn sick of being asked, he started to tell  me when he needed to go. Or rather he’d screech “Poo Mummy” as he scurried towards me, with one hand behind his back clutching his bottom.

Seeing that I would drop everything and leap to attention when he needed to go, he quickly realised that the whole process could be manipulated into something of a game. I’d run to get him to the bathroom, peel off the layers, sit him down and then he’d laugh. “No Poo Mummy”. Hmmmmm. That one soon wears very thin, particularly when you’re in the shower, eating your breakfast or halfway up a mountain..

A Blue Mountain to be exact. Let me explain.

We’ve just got back from spending a week in Sydney. A week in Sydney in the rain. Who knew it would be so cold, or so wet at this time of year. Everyone but us apparently. Typically, the weather forecast for the week changed upon our arrival. It went from sun and a spot of cloud every day, to rain with a touch of rain every day.

Damp weather aside, holidaying with children is always a test – a test of a parent’s patience, stamina and will to live. Air travel in particular can be stressful at the best of times (something I wrote about before),  but throw in a couple of kids and several tonnes of ‘can’t get by without you’ luggage and you can find yourself half way to a nervous breakdown at 30,000 feet.

It’s always hard to know how your children will react to leaving the ground in a vacuum packed can. My son wasn’t amused. At all. Watching the aeroplanes through the terminal window – great fun. Walking down the air-slip onto the plane – not so fun. Sitting in his seat for take off – simply not going to happen.

So what does he call out in a desperate bid for freedom? “Poo Mummy”.

Yes, just what all the passengers around us wanted to hear. I’m sure some actually recoiled and held their nose in fear. So, with the fasten seat belt sign lit up and the plane doors already closed, he was whisked up the aisle to the toilet with potty in hand. Did he need to go? Of course he didn’t, but it would have been a pretty brave parent to take the risk.

And so followed a week of untimely potty stops. In the bushes in front of the Opera House. In the undergrowth next to the museum. Sat inside the land train going around Darling Harbour. Behind the seal enclosure at Taronga zoo. On a grassy knoll overlooking Botany Bay. On the train into the shops, and around the back of the Police Station in the CBD. There was no where he didn’t go. And there was no where we could go without a potty, wet wipes and spare clothes at the ready. It really is amazing how the bowels of a small child can shape and dictate your day.

The mountains, as previously discussed, were probably the worst. When he decided he needed to go, the rain was coming in at us diagonally from both sides – with the force of Niagara Falls. We happened to be out on a nature trail at that moment, trying to take at least one photo of the view to prove we had enjoyed the grey and misty scenery. We ended up in the car pack, huddled over him with umbrellas, as he sat on the ground to give it a go. Did anything materialise?  Nope, not even with the encouraging sound of gushing water hitting his parent’s heads.

Same story in the Jenolan caves, and then twice on the way back up the mountain at night, in thick and surprisingly spooky fog. At times like this it is definitely tempting to ignore the little voice from the back seat, but the car seat was hired and the excess for damage to the car was $3000. No pee is worth that much. This time he sat perched on his potty in the boot of the car, smiling up at us, as if it were all perfectly normal.

All pit stops aside, the biggest and most costly accident that occurred during the week, was not by my toddler, but by my husband instead. We were on the ferry traveling from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour, and had decided to sit outside in the spitting rain, to take some pictures of the Opera House as we went past.

Somehow, and don’t ask me how, the camera leaped out of his pocket, dropped onto the ferry floor and slid 2 foot across to the edge of the boat. As it happened (does it ever happen any other way?), there was a gap in the side of the boat. About, oh lets say, camera sized in width. The only bloody hole, I might add, that there was down our side of the boat.

The camera then proceeded to slide through the hole and sit on the outside rim. I’m sure the camera lenses winked at me. We both looked at it in disbelief – I know I was certainly wondering what the hell is it doing down there. Having a child on my lap I couldn’t move. My husband, who swears it all happened in seconds, apparently has the reaction times of a snail on speed.

PLOP, over it went. All of our photos sank right to the bottom of the harbour. I’m not embarrassed to say I burst into tears. My husband did what any intelligent man in the same situation should do. He kept very quiet and looked at the floor. After several minutes of watching my tears mixing with the rain, my daughter helpfully piped up.

“Now you’ve lost all of my photos.” Followed by. “This wouldn’t have happened if we’d sat inside you know.” I believe she received quite a glare.

We all left the ferry in silence. Even my son knew better than to say he needed a poo. Half an hour later, when we were standing underneath the sharks inside the aquarium, my husband ventured to speak to me. “Well obviously we’ll buy a new camera tomorrow.”

And so we did.

He did feel marginally better when told in the camera shop that he was the 3rd person that week to drop their camera into the water. Had our home contents insurance actually covered us for the camera outside of the house, then he might have redeemed himself a little more. But of course, despite trotting along to the Police Station to report it’s loss (hence the potty stop), it didn’t. Now had he dropped it into a mug of tea at home, we’d be quids in – go figure.

The new camera is shatterproof, waterproof, snow-proof and husband-proof. That of course means it comes with a manual thick enough to sit on at the breakfast bar. By the next holiday I might just have worked out which setting goes with which, and how to use the ‘Beauty Mode’. Till then, it’s safe to say my dearest husband will be remaining on the other side of the lens, and paying for his act of clumsiness through the public humiliation on this blog.

ii

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