It's 1976, I am four years old. My mom, grandma, baby sister and I are out shopping at JC Penney in the Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It's summertime and it's hot, hot, hot. After we shop, my grandma has promised to take us to Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour for a treat. That place is amazing! The paper straws magically stick to the wet shake glasses and somehow the waiter always gets the balloon that he rubs on his head to stick to the wall.
My mom has my sister and I dressed to the tee. Pigtails in the hair (check), matching little sun dresses (check), matching ribbons that match the matching sun dresses (check), white leather sandals (check), my overactive bladder (check). Whaaaat? Over active what? Hold it right here! Actually, that is the problem. I am four years old and I can't "hold it" right here, right there, or right anywhere. When I have to "go", I have to "GO"!
So, as we are shopping, I suddenly have the need to use the bathroom, but because my toileting needs go from non-existant to emergency urgent I end up peeing on the floor of the department store. My mom and grandma look on horrified as a puddle forms and flows into a tiny yellow river that runs between the rack of gingham baby doll style dresses complete with bloomers and the Sesame Street one piece swimming suits in sizes 2T to 4T.
Mom scoops me up and takes me to the bathroom to clean me up. Grandma drives the baby buggy frantically over to the basics section to find me a new pair of unsoaked undies. In the meantime, an unwitting Penney's employee suddenly happens upon the Little Yellow River nestled between the Lands of Bloomers and Bathing Suits. Only she doesn't exactly see the river before she slips, slides, and falls flat on her rump onto the floor and into the river. Oh, good golly Miss Molly, or Miss Smith, or whatever the poor gal's name is.
My mom and grandma are both way too embarrassed to say a word or owe up to being the cause of the mysteriously appearing puddle. So, we leave the store and go have some ice cream at the magical ice cream shop where the only thing wet now is the side of my soda glass with the straw magically adhering to it.
So, the whole point to this embarrassingly weird story, where I have once again shared TMI, is that all kid's are different when it come to potty training. In my case, it turns out that I indeed did have anatomical problem that made my bladder run on overdrive. A few years after the "Watershed Incident" at JC Penney, I had surgery to dilate the urethra tube, which essentially solved the problem (until later in life when my bladder became a trampoline for multiple babies, but that's a horse or bladder of a different color).
Some kids are relatively easy to potty train. They take very readily to the idea of going in the "big people potty". They are eager to be done with diapers. They are ready emotionally and physically to meet this milestone. Other kids are not. There are books, websites and doctor's lectures devoted solely to potty talk. There are normative age ranges, statistics and countless methods of toileting instruction. I think that it is important to remember that our kids are not cookie cutters. Each one of them is uniquely created from their head to their toes and their bladder in between.
As a mom, I have had had to resist the urge to compare my kids' potty progress to other kids'. I have to remind myself to consult and not compare when I speak with other moms. My biggest encouragement has actually come from my kids themselves. Seeing that each of them reached the coveted status of "Potty Trained" at a different age and in their own unique way, was all the confirmation that I needed. After all, as one wise mom once told me, "I've never met a college kid who wasn't potty trained.". All in good time, friends. All in good time.
And just for the record, I would like to apologize to the poor, unsuspecting JC Penney employee who slipped and fell in my pee, thirty-six years ago. If it makes you feel any better, over the years, I have also slipped and fell in various and assorted puddles, rivers and streams left around my home by monkeys, puppies, and other assorted creatures.