Is there a stronger word than "ambivalence"? Something off in the same direction - you know, feeling two very different things at the same time - but less, I dunno, wishy-washy?
I ask because Secondborn... Well, Secondborn just turned two back in April. But he's watched his brother using the restroom, and, well... he wants to do that, too. To that end, the boy has started trying to potty train himself. And this is no idle whim on Secondborn's part. In this, as in all things, he is determined.
It's probably worth stopping to observe that Firstborn wasn't really potty trained until he was much older. Four, maybe four and a half. As far as I know, that's pretty normal.
So on the one hand, I'm tremendously proud. I'm thrilled that Secondborn has set himself a goal, and that he pursues it so relentlessly, and that he is -- by the standards of a two-year-old -- remarkably good at it. Seriously, he climbs up onto the potty and stands on the rim, leaning forward to grip the back of toilet with his hands: that's the only way he can angle himself correctly. (He's too short to stand on the ground and do it.) Or he climbs up, seats himself, and does his best to poop.
In both cases, he discards his diaper first. We've even bought him some pull-ups (for the uninitiated, sort of a cross between diapers and underpants) to help him with this. And therein lies the rub.
You see, once he's decided that it's time to visit the potty, he is wholly untroubled by other concerns. Those are for the grown-ups, and would only slow him him down. Not for Secondborn are such petty considerations as cleanliness, modesty, or even basic hygiene. No, regardless of his current circumstance -- his present location, the state of his diaper, any nearby toys or piles of clean laundry -- when the need for the potty arises, he discards his diaper and races for the potty.
...Which leads to the second problem with this adventure: his legs are too short. He can't run all that fast. And at two years old, his body doesn't give him a whole lot of advance notice.
So this is where my ardent ambivalence comes in. While I am tremendously proud, I am also at the same time deeply and profoundly appalled by the, um, side-effects of this ill-chosen quest. Secondborn's self-imposed attempt at potty-training has produced some of the most vile and disgusting scenarios I have ever seen. (Given that we have a six-year-old in the house, that's no small achievement.) It has given me psychological scars which I will, no doubt, carry to my grave; for example, I cannot hear the phrase "yucky poop" without leaping to me feet in a panicked effort to reach the toddler before his horror can spread. It has cost us untold hours in additional cleanup, and easily tripled our bleach-related spending.
If Satan himself rose up to begin his conquest of Earth, and by some misfortune arrived first in our house, I firmly believe that he would take one look at this and go right back down. "Sorry, guys, I've got nicer digs down in the Pit Of Burning Sulfur. Good luck getting that out of those pillow-cases, though. See ya!"
It's that bad.
I'm so proud.