Maybe I will get it Right Some Day

Bob Matthews reading his story for Globe-La Crosse Faculty, Staff, and Students at the 2012 Creative Quill Release Party

Bob Matthews reading his story for Globe-La Crosse Faculty, Staff, and Students at the 2012 Creative Quill Release Party

Criminal Justice student, Bob Matthews reads his now published nonfiction piece “Maybe I will get it Right Some Day” at the 2012 Creative Quill release party.

The Creative Quill is Globe University’s literary journal. The journal is published once a year and features poetry and lyrics, fiction and drama, and creative non-fiction from all 29 campuses.

Maybe I will get it Right Some Day

by Bob Matthews

As parents, we are subjected to every form of unflattering humiliation that can legally be placed upon a person. Be it the untimely recital of one of dad’s curse word laden tirades while waiting in line at Wal-Mart in front of a minister, or the kid waking before sunrise, jumping onto my bed and throwing up on me in the dark—the learning curve of children is directly proportional to the aging curve of the parent. Honestly, I am not even sure how humans have not gone extinct; yet, however, we continue to breed and subject ourselves to this self imposed torture. Maybe it will all be funny later on . . . much later on.

According to Benjamin Franklin, “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” I am a hard worker. By trying to outthink a three year old, using both psychology and reverse psychology, it has become readily apparent to me that the three year old will win almost every time. The labels on his shirts say 3T. I now know that the T stands for terrorist.  I am the one who always seems to have to learn the lessons and the kid is MY teacher.

Potty training is the concept that I have the hardest time with, and every day I seem to learn more lessons on it. Accidents have ruined carpets, new clothes, and entire day trips. Unpredictable in both type and quantity, Mr. Murphy is never far away—laughing under his breath. Any and all of my past transgressions against karma must have been duly noted by someone, for my toddling nemesis is hell bent on my reconciliation of those misdeeds. The “training” has led me to find drawings resembling 20,000 year old fecal cave art on my walls as well as the occasional child covered in brown war paint.

Praise and punishment. Punishment and praise. I thought I had it figured out—until praise turned to his reward and my punishment once again.

Reward—something desirable given in return for what somebody has done—can be given or withheld, but not given and retracted in many cases. Maybe the word bribe is more appropriate when describing my 100th different approach to toilet training. Failure after failure left me desperate and willing to try anything. In offering my son a reward/bribe trip to parent hell, I mean Chuck E. Cheese, I had hit rock bottom (the fact they sell beer there was my only solace). All he had to do was drop one deuce into the potty one time, and we would go. The offer stood for weeks, and over time it seemed like he may not ever even want to go see the robotic rock band and the hoards of other screaming kids.

I was obviously the only one looking forward to our future visit to Chuck E. Cheese, until one day it happened. The red headed beast slipped up and I saw what I believed were signs of a coming movement—he was writhing and pushing like he was fully dilated and in labor. I immediately went into Ninja mode. In one swift motion, he was swept off of his feet, stripped of his size five Huggie, and delicately thrown onto the nearest toilet. As the tears began to stream down his cheeks, there was no doubt in my mind that sitting on the toilet was the last place he wanted to be. Spongebob was on the TV and I had just violated his sovereignty. My desires trumped his “rights” . . . for once.

He sat and cried. He tried to get up, and I held him down like he was wearing a seatbelt. He sat and cried. “I can’t Daddy” and “No poops” were not winning arguments for him as he continued to sit and cry. The tears fell almost as fast as the hairs on my head do, but I did not relent. After several minutes of whining and squirming, he became distracted; this shut off the leaky tear nozzles. With a wrinkle and twinge he sneezed, but it also made a splashing noise that was followed by high fives and pictures. The Kids Had Been Dropped Off At The Pool … I repeat … The Kids Are At The Pool. Sweet Jesus, we are going to Chuck E. Cheese after all! After calling Grandma with the news and updating the Facebook status, the date was set.

As we pulled into the parking lot, the boy could not have been more proud of himself, for he knew where we were going and why. As we entered this den of child gluttony, we ordered our pizza and got a wheelbarrow full of tokens, because this was a celebration. After receiving assurance from my son that he did not in fact need to use the potty, he was off to join the slobbering mass of Baby Gap clothes and mayhem. Game after money stealing game and ride after nausea inducing ride, he played onward. Complete sensory overload.

Then it happened—I smelled something—but in the same way that you can’t identify the stinky cow at a stockyard, I could not identify the stinky kid. I just knew it wasn’t mine thank God. Everywhere we went the smell was waiting on us, almost like it knew we were coming. Some kid must be living in a cloud right now. With that I looked over and saw our pizza arriving at our table, and the timing could not have been better, for the smell was strong enough to gag a maggot. Since Little Man was having a blast, it was easy for me to let him play so I could take a break and eat some pizza. Within moments I look up to see the crowd parting like the Red Sea and people that were eating began pushing their plates away as their appetites suddenly left them.  That obnoxious band of robotic musicians screeched to a halt in mid song. The culprit, it now seems, was headed in my direction, walking like a saddle-worn, bow-legged cowboy, sans jingling spurs, about to get into a gunfight. This Moses was nonchalantly chuck-wagoning the most horrible of stanks by every single table and game in the entire restaurant. The eyes of every adult in the place were on him, and then me, as it became readily apparent who the true offender really was. Surrounded by a cloud like Pigpen from Charlie Brown, my son was coming to pay me a visit and ruin my appetite as well. Apparently Moses and I were already acquainted.

The less than approving glances from the scores of once hungry people told a story that is not worth repeating in proper company, so with that we gathered our stuff and promptly exited “the cloud.” After getting to the truck and changing a diaper that would qualify for fines from the EPA, it was time to reflect. Somehow my plan had backfired. The reward for pooping in the potty had lost its meaning, and because of the fact that rewards cannot always be retracted meant that my son had just been rewarded for violating the concept that he was actually being rewarded for. I had to learn a lesson, and again he did not. The harder I work, the less I understand. Old Ben was right after all.