Babies are not born feeling embarrassment, which given their utter nude, slightly slimy, sometimes mucky appearance upon entering the world is probably a good thing. Embarrassment is something that we learn through self-awareness and exposure, it begins in the wonderful world of toddlerhood, think terrible twos and terrifying threes. I mean let’s be honest, that nonsense about terrible twos is just a myth fed to us by parents who are too kind to tell us that three can be even worse. So in the middle of all of this self-awareness, which can be the cause for those terrible and terrifying times, toddlers are learning a bundle of emotions: embarrassment, guilt, pride, shame, confidence, anger, fear, etc. and how to control all of these feelings. I can assure you, as the mother of a toddler and preschooler, what they don’t immediately learn is how their actions may or may not embarrass you. I feel like I should start writing all of this down for when they are teenagers and everything I do is embarrassing and I can be all like “Yeah well let’s talk about the two years you made it a public service announcement that you had to poop!”.
At first we want our kids to tell us when they have to go potty, it’s job #1 when potty training, communication, communication and more communication. You feel like your world revolves around pee and poop, literally and conversationally. But then there are you two years later, hiding behind a rack in the local Target because your son or daughter has just yelled for the millionth time “I have to Poop” and really to no one in particular. They do it at home, at Grandmas, at the library, the park, a restaurant, every. where. It doesn’t matter if they are perfectly able to walk their happy little self into a nearby restroom or their own bathroom and do their business by them self or with minimal help, they still provide an ear-splitting public declaration, that today, at this moment, I’m going to take a poop. It doesn’t bother them, not one bit, that you may not need or even want to know this information or that an entire restaurant has gone quiet at this loud declaration. In fact, if you ever want to silence a room to make an important announcement, stop yelling quiet, people ignore that, just loudly yell that you’re going to poop. Instant silence, the kind where you could hear a pin drop.
Perhaps this is what helicopter moms are creating, if you’re going to stalk me everywhere else I go, I’m going to tell you all my business, proud and out loud, on a bench on a church pew, wearing red or wearing blue, on the slide or by your side. In the meantime, I guess we’ll just keep trying to remind ’em that their preschool classmates probably don’t need this specific bit o’ information, that they can just use the restroom during potty breaks and let their teacher, not their classroom, know as needed. And Dear World, in case you were wondering, No I don’t have to Poop right now and I would be a-ok not knowing every time my son or daughter did.