Before my son was born I knew he was bound to be a handful. My pregnancy was not exactly glowing and, due to his impatience, I was ordered on bedrest for three very long months. Needless to say, it was not a surprise when he came into the world full of energy, with vocal cords that put lead singers in heavy metal bands to shame with the same ability to party all night without sleep.
As difficult as the first two years were, it was still bittersweet when my son turned three. He was finally out of the all-night cry fests, and I was adjusting quite well to sleeping for more than a few hours at a time. On the other hand, my little bald-headed, baby-faced toddler with big blue eyes was slowly growing into a little man. Instead of wobbling while he walked, and falling down out of clumsiness, he was running full throttle, and literally crashing himself into whatever was in his way.
In this transition, potty training had begun, or at least the attempt to potty train. The concept did not completely sink in with my son until a couple months after his third birthday. It took a lot of patience and constant reinforcement, but when he finally got it, it stuck. Especially once he learned that he earned candy after each successful trip to the bathroom.
While this is one of many stories that have taught me to never underestimate the intelligence of a child, it was one of the first that made me question my own intelligence. It was the holiday season, and my kids and I were visiting with friends. After they had consumed a package of Pez each, and a few pieces of chocolate, I advised them that there would be no more candy. My son, being the sugar fiend he is, was displeased with my decision to cut him off. When the puppy dog eyes didn’t work, he resorted to attempting to break my friend, however, she, of course, backed me up. After an extended period of begging and pleading, his eyes suddenly got wide as saucers, and his face brightened, as if a light bulb went off in his head.
My friend and I stood waiting to see what would happen next and how far he would go to obtain his sugar fix. He rushed to the bathroom, and after he finished his business, he stood at my feet and as I looked down, he smiled and said, in his sweet, innocent but conniving voice, “Can I have candy now peez, I went potty”?
He used our very hard work against me, and I was outsmarted by a three-year old. He got his candy that day, not just for using the potty, but also for leaving two adults rendered speechless with no viable defense.