Potty Training – A good laugh!

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For Mothers and Grandmothers Everywhere (and Aunts)

Potty Talk

A 3-year-old tells all from his mother’s restroom stall.
By Shannon Popkin

My little guy, Cade, is quite a talker. He loves to communicate and does it quite well. He talks to people constantly, whether we’re in the library, the grocery store or at a drive-thru window.

People often comment on how clearly he speaks for a just-turned-3-year-old. And you never have to ask him to turn  up the volume It’s always fully cranked. There’ve been several embarrassing times that I’ve wished the meaning of his words would have been masked by a not-so-audible voice, but never have I wished this more than last week at Costco.

Halfway, through our shopping trip, nature called, so I took Cade with me into the restroom. If you’d been one of the ladies in the restroom that evening, this is what you would have heard coming from the second to the last stall:
“Mommy, are you gonna go potty? Oh! Why are you putting toiwet paper on the potty, Mommy? Oh! You gonna sit down on DA toiwet paper now? Mommy, what are you doing? Mommy, are you gonna go stinkies on the potty?”

At this point I started mentally counting how many women had been in the bathroom when I walked in. Several stalls were full ? 4? 5? Maybe we could wait until they all left before I had to make my debut out of this stall and reveal my identity.

Cade continued, “Mommy, you ARE going stinkies aren’t you? Oh, dats a good girl, Mommy! Are you gonna get some candy for going stinkies on the potty? Let me see doze stinkies, Mommy! Oh ? Mommy! I’m trying to seein dere. Oh! I see dem. Dat is a very good girl, Mommy. You are gonna get some candy!”

I heard a few faint chuckles coming from the stalls on either side of me. Where is a screaming newborn when you need her? Good grief. This was really getting embarrassing. I was definitely waiting a long time before exiting.

Trying to divert him, I said, “Why don’t you look in Mommy’s purse and see if you can find some candy. We’ll both have some!” “No, I’m trying to see doze more stinkies. Oh! Mommy!” He started to gag at this point. “Uh oh, Mommy. I fink I’m gonna frow up. Mommy, doze stinkies are making me frow up!! Dat is so gross!!” As the gags became louder, so did the chuckles outside my stall I quickly flushed the toilet in hopes of changing the subject. I began to reason with myself:

OK. There are four other toilets. If I count four flushes, I can be reasonably assured that those who overheard this embarrassing monologue will be long gone. “Mommy! Would you get off the potty, now? I want you to be done going stinkies! Get up! Get up!” He grunted as he tried to pull me off. Now I could hear full-blown laughter. I bent down to count the feet outside my door.

“Oh, are you wooking under dere, Mommy? You wooking under DA door? What were you wooking at, Mommy? You wooking at the wady’s feet?” More laughter. I stood inside the locked door and tried to assess the situation.

“Mommy, it’s time to wash our hands, now. We have to go out now, Mommy.” He started pounding on the door. “Mommy, don’t you want to wash your hands? I want to go out!!”

I saw that my “wait ’em out” plan was unraveling. As I sheepishly opened the door, and found an open sink, I thought, Where’s the fine print on the motherhood contract’ where I signed away every bit of my privacy? But as my little herald gave me a big, cheeky grin while he rubbed bubbly soap between his chubby little hands, I thought, I’d sign it all away again, just to be known as Mommy to this little fellow.

Shannon Popkin is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives with her family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she no longer uses public restrooms.


photo by: mr_t_in_d


  1. Anonymous says

    Loved it!! Thanks for such a good laugh. I have a little boy just about that age, with a lot in common with her little guy! haha!

  2. says

    not toilet training but a loud inquisitive 3 year old in a ladies washroom and change room.
    I took my youngest into the pool change room to get his suit on. I always wore mine under my clothes.
    Well older ladies were changing and a few days earlier his brother and he were discussing beards.
    Out of his mouth pops this gem.
    Mommy you said women don’t have beards.
    that is true Danny.
    well that lady does, down there.
    picked him up took him to his father and older brother.
    I was so embarrassed I never wanted to go to the pool again.
    Why do little ones come out with such embarrassing moments for their mothers????

  3. Michelle says

    I read this & laughed out loud and cried real tears. Then I read it out loud to my husband. Then I posted an article link on Facebook. Then I sent it to our family email list. EVERYBODY needs to read this for a joy break because children are the greatest and often the most embarassing! Thanks so much for posting – it made my day!! (and I think my husband is going to be quoting Cade in the days ahead).

    • says

      Glad you liked it Michelle. I don’t feel so bad now because I was almost rolling on the floor with this one and I think most of us know just what it is like to be locked in a tiny bathroom stall with one or two preschoolers. Just that in and of itself is an experience. :):)

  4. says

    My mom recalls a time when I was around 5 or 6 and having a bit of a hard time “making stinkies”.
    When I finally got going, I had to make declarations about it, like “Oh my gosh, I think I’m having a baby in here!” and “Yep, that one looks big as a baby’s arm!”
    The lady that came out of the stall was laughing so hard, she could barely wash her hands.
    I have no idea why everyone calls me the Queen of TMI to this day…..*blinks innocently.

  5. Brenna says

    It is definitely hard to walk out of the stall with your head held high, when my 3 year old gives a play-by-play!!! As a sweet revenge later…print this story and put it in his baby book :-) HA HA

    • says

      Brenna you are soooo right – revenge is so sweet when it comes to our kids. One of the greatest things about being a grandma is to sit grinning from ear to ear as my children call me on a daily basis to let me know what my grandkids have just done to embarrass them or drive them crazy. I love it. :) :) Of course my kids insist they never did anything like that to me. Ya right! They were angels. HA!HA!

    • Jan says

      No problem–the “sweet revenge” is his future embarrassment at merely being seen with you in public when he’s an adolescent!

  6. rose says

    thank u for posting this jill and thanks to you too grandma for more laughs! …
    i laughed so hard that i too had tears coming out of my eyes … and my sides hurt ..
    yes, laughter is the best medicine … and this was a good dose of medicine for the day ..
    😀 ..

  7. Shaunna says

    Ironically enough we have a son named Cade who is also very vocal & you never know what will come out of his mouth. Everyone absolutely adores him and usually reply after one of his embaressing comments ‘That’s just Cade!’ He is almost 7 now but our family has amassed many ‘Cade stories’. My father’s favorite is when he & my mother & 18 year old sister had him in a hotel. They were preparing to go for a swim when my son ran out of the bathroom buck naked screaming at the top of his lungs ‘NOBODY PANIC!! We have a real situation here! There is an ANT in the bathroom!!’ Everyone was stunned by his naked 6 year old self shouting about an ant, but thankfully it wasn’t in front of anyone but family :-)

  8. Roxanne Parks Garrett says

    my only child, Scott Lee Parks, will be 46 in June and father of 3 teenage girls..I always told him I would get him back someday after all the embarassing stunts he did to me when he was young..now when he has to go buy 3 boxes of Tampons for his girls, I figure that is sweet surrender! He turned out to be a hard working, loving husband and father for the past 20 yrs. Yes, I wish I had had at least 1 more but I was trying to get my Doctorate in Science and by the time I was finished, I still was not married and they would have been too far apart..but Scott did enough “Cade’s” to me to think I did right by having only 1 child..it has been proven that the children like little Cade are our most intelligent and I think my son and I both prove that!

  9. Lea Stormhammer says

    My then 4-year-old twins and I were changing at the public pool with my SIL. I had changed my bottoms with my long shirt on, but had to take the shirt off to do the top.

    When I took my bra off my son says (very loudly of course) “MOMMY! You sure have BIG muscles!”

    My SIL actually wet her pants she was laughing so hard!

    I just love how the littles speak their mind – no matter how embarrassing it is at the time! And, yes, that one is going in his scrapbook!


  10. Emily says

    oh no, I shouldn’t read these at work. I was looking for Vdate night meal and thought I could use a chuckle quick. Well it became a belly laugh then a roar when I read Grandma’s comment about the beard. I have cubicle mates looking over the wall at me. My big smile cracks into loud laughter about every 30 seconds!

  11. Another Mother says

    I really needed to read these today. The world is right again. Thank you all so much for sharing these stories.

  12. says

    Christy, think of your most embarrassing moment so far in your life and multiply it by 5 you might come close.
    The funny part about it is that by the time your face resumes its normal colour you are almost ready for the next incident and can laugh along with others at your expense.

    A friend of mine caught her son in an act that got her husbands face slapped.
    They were shopping and the father had his son in the buggy and was walking a bit ahead of his wife. A lady came up beside the buggy and bent down to look at something. The son was 3 and mischeivious he reached over and patted her butt. The lady jumped up and slapped Tom’s face and almost ran down the aisle.
    Poor Tom didn’t know what to do since he didn’t know what happened until his wife stopped laughing and explained.
    He never took the buggy when the son was in it again.

  13. Michelle says

    Thank you so much for a great laugh. I am the oldest of 7, but my parents didn’t take us out very often…can’t imagine why. Well, I grew up and one day I was in a public restroom…and a little boy looked under the door while I was going, and his mommy was busy with his little sister. Lets just say his mommy was SSSOOO embarassed. I thought it pretty funny. Jump ahead a few years…3 year old, great talker, loud little boy at the library, me a bit to busy with the 2 year old, and being pregnant with number three, and somehow I didn’t hear “I gotta pee NOW Mommy. Also, important, the story time is filled with Mommys with 1 little girl each…NO BOYS. Well, The Daddy showed him how to go pee outside at the farm the weekend before (apparently 200 acreas of solitude is about the same as a busy libray to a three year old boy) Down came the pants, right in the middle of everyone…at which point I noticed, and sort of screamed NNNOOO. Imagine it in slow motion… Off to the bathroom just in time while he cried and announced to everyone that The Daddy showed him how without a potty. Saddly, nobody laughed…I suspect they will get theirs another day. I sure did, the following week we were at Target, in the shoe section, trying to find shoes for Little Sister that would work for a wedding she was in (no shoes that would work)…but lets just say I was not quite as observant until it was too late, and I was looking at a wet spot on the floor. Haven’t been back there in the last 6 months. That time I had The Daddy tell him that he could only use the potty unless he couldn’t see anybody except The Daddy. He’ll be four this week and we haven’t had another episode. I’ll be signing up for the next story time, though…we’ll see how that goes…do you think those other Mommies have forgotten? I hope they all have boys someday…Just because boys really are a lot of fun…heeheeeheee. And since The Boy is his daddies “Mini Me”, I know he will turn out just fine. Though, on a side note, I learned that when walking through a store if 1/2 the old people are frowning at your sqirmy 2 year old trapped in a cart, and all the others laughing (but mostly the old men are almost rolling on the floor). Step in front of the cart and look back…your little guy might be mooning the whole store, and be able to hide it with his winter coat from the front. They have talents those boys, my daughter has NEVER done anything close, of course she is my “Mini Me”.

  14. says

    Okay, that was hysterical. And I might have felt a little embarressed just reading it! May the day never come when my child gives the world my play-by-play in the public restroom…

  15. Lil says

    Never be embarrassed by what little ones say and do….its their beautiful innocence! Most people see it for what it is and although we all enjoy a good laugh about it, there’s no shame.

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