Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Devil Wears Nada

You know how about two months ago I was singing the praises of turning four? Of how great it was now that Rollie is four years old, he's so much easier to get along with and does eeeeverything I say now, and it's almost like having another adult (albeit one who enjoys potty humor just a little too much) in the house? I believe the word I actually used to describe Rollie as a four-year-old was...angel. Which I guess is sort of fitting. Lucifer himself was an angel at one point, right?

I don't know why I do this to myself. I brag about my kid being potty trained to someone, and two second later my kid pees in her undies right in front of us. I tell someone else how my kid is pretty outgoing, while my kid hides behind me and avoids eye-contact like a guilty defendant. I ask my kid to write his name in crayon so his granny can admire his penmanship, and instead he shoves the crayon up his nose and laughs like a stoner watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Kids can sense when you're asking them to perform like trained monkeys, and instead they act like the kind of monkeys you see at the zoo who throw sh*t at each other. So charming.

Anyway, now that Rollie has been four for a while, he's learning all kinds of things I suppose are necessary for him to establish a sense of self. Like that it's getting more and more difficult for me the physically force him to do things. Or that Mommy doesn't always know everything (which is why he's been using the oh-so-endearing phrase I Told You So. What is he, Rush Limbaugh?). Or that lately everything he touches becomes a gun. Kinda like if King Midas lived in South Central.

The biggest battle I currently wage with my son is--and for some reason I cannot for the life of me fathom why, and if anyone out there in Readerland can help me out with this one I will be forever grateful--washing his hands.

Washing his hands.

I simply do not get why this is so awful. Seriously. I suggest he wash his hands when we get home from school, the store, playing outside so that he has enough dirt under his fingernails for me to plant a garden there, and he immediately acts like I've just asked him to remove his own appendix with a pair of chopsticks. In a haunted cemetery. On Halloween night.

He's even started lying to me about what he has and has not touched in the bathroom, simply so he will not have to take the ten seconds required to soap up his hands and rinse (I realize he's supposed to wash them for longer than ten seconds...I think we'll be working our way up to that...kinda like being able to run for five minutes before you can do a marathon...or if you're like me, being able to chase your kid down the dog food aisle before you can chase your kid across the entire upper floor of the mall). Maybe he's worried that the world will keep on spinning without him, but if he did the math he'd realize that arguing with me about it wastes far more time and energy. Perhaps math won't be his strong suit. Wonder where he got that trait from.

Yesterday he disappeared for a few minutes and I just knew he was going to the bathroom. When he emerged, the following conversation ensued.

Me: Where'd you go, Rol-Rol?
Rollie: Um...just playing in Elsa's room.
Me: Oh yeah? Did you go potty, too?
Rollie: No, I didn't have to go.
Me (deciding to employ the old trick of making children squirm): Rollie, look at me.
He looks up with wide, innocent eyes.
Me: Rollie, I need you to tell me the truth so I can trust you.
He blinks.
Me: Rollie, did you use the potty?
Rolle: No.
Me (Dammit, what are you kid, a pathological liar?): Well then who left the toilet seat up?
Rollie: ...Maybe it was already like that.
Me: No, I know for a fact it wasn't already like that. (Another great thing about being a mom--I subconsciously notice little details like that when walking around the house. I also remember where I've last seen toys. Becoming a mom is like having a special chip implanted in our brain that allows us to scan rooms and remember exactly where toys are strewn so that the next time our children come whining to us that they can't find their action figure's tiny Storm Trooper helmet, we know that it is on the floor right beside a dirty sock, a paper from school and a wayward card from his Memory game.)
Rollie: Well, maybe Elsa did it.
Me: No, Elsa didn't do it.
Rollie: Ollie must have done it then.
Me: Come on, Rollie, Ollie doesn't know how to use the potty.
Rollie: We should teach him how.
Me: Wouldn't that be nice?
Rollie: Then he wouldn't have to go in the backyard.
Me: Stop changing the subject, you. We are talking about whether you went pee-pee or not.
Rollie: And you wouldn't have to scoop up poopy from the grass.
Me: Sigh.

After much back and forth and needling at his tenuous conscience, I finally managed to get a confession from him. Yes, he used the potty, and no, he didn't wash his hands. Or flush. Or close the lid. So it wasn't Ollie after all.

Which brought me to another dilemma: Do I punish Rollie for his dishonesty, or praise him for finally coming clean? If I punish him, will he tailor his methods so that soon he'll be able to avoid detection? If I praise him, will he figure that lying isn't really that big of a deal? What if he gets better at lying, or starts lying about bigger things? Is lying the gateway drug of the Land of Disobedience? Soon he'll be stealing money from my purse and beating up kids at school. He'll come home with a tattoo and refuse to cut his hair and I'll find Black Sabbath albums stashed beneath his mattress and comics wedged inside his school books.

Man, sometimes I miss the good ol' days, when my biggest struggle with him was trying to get him to keep his clothes on. Now I don't care if he's naked, as long as his hands are clean. Literally and figuratively. Especially literally.


  1. HA HA! We have the opposite problem. Bailey always washes her hands... which turns into using half a bottle of soap and playing in the bubbles for 10 minutes or so. She likes to go potty and not flush then I find her crap in the toilet hours later. GREAT. AND keeping her clothes on. She does not like to wear clothes. But let me tell you what, I think the lying thing comes with age 4. We are in the same dilemma and I have no idea what to do about it. When you figure it out, let me know!

  2. i would march him right down to a junkyard. or a hospital biohazard waste room. & show him a petri dish of some disgusting staph cluster (or are they the grape ones? strands? can't remember). anyway, i would show him disgusting & sometimes fatal flesh-eating diseases that can arise when one fails to wash his hands. now, when i see him i'll deny i suggested this so i'll still be his favorite auntie. but i bet it works. if not, he'll become a dr. either way you win. make sure it's a cosmetic surgeon - we need one of those in the family. xo

  3. Maybe you should read him Macbeth.. especially about Lady M.

  4. We have the same sort of problems. The only thing that worked for me is buying really fun soap. This motivates my sons to wash post potty for approximately a week, so I rotate the fun soaps. Color foam, character, disappearing beads...the works.

    Oh and lying is rampant here these days. I'm stuggling with all the reasons to tell the truth and praising versus punishing along the way.

    I'm afraid it just gets harder...but I assume eventually they'll wash their hands without a fight.