The lady sounded excited when I picked up the phone, “I just wanted to call and let you know, Meg has been accepted.”
“Oh!” I said trying to match her enthusiasm. But confused on what she was talking about, I asked, “Great! Accepted for what?”
“Preschool, she got into our school.”
“Oh!” I yelped, before I asked, “Ahhh. What school?” It was painful to ask, but the sheer stress and pressure of having to “be on every preschool waiting list” since the minute Meg was a mere speck in my belly was confusing, exhausting and down right ridiculous.
The final words of the phone call sent me into a panic, “Just make sure she’s potty trained by September.”
Potty trained?! My two-year old still thinks the potty is a beachfront community where her Polly Pockets hang and play. Why does the only school to accept Meg have to require her to pee on a toilet?
My six-year old son Ty got the hang of the porcelain contraption just from watching Dad. Then again with men, there’s so much to see. With girls, it’s all hidden.
“Just let her walk around naked, she’ll catch on sooner or later…” advised my mother-of-four friend, Dana.
I decided to try this naked thing in the privacy of our home, having no idea I was creating a monster.
“Naked” not only became my little child’s favorite word, but also her way of life. No matter where we’d go, if she spilt something or felt an itch from a tag, she’d rip off all her clothes before I had a chance to notice or stop her.
At home, I’d run to the kitchen for an apple and return minutes later to find her clothes in a pile and Meg, bare bottom, sprawled on the floor watching TV. Ty would be staring at her with his hand tightly wrapped over his mouth, trying not to laugh.
I went to Costco with my sister and while discussing how the Costco food-sample ladies always made people feel like vagabond beggars, my daughter Meg was stopping Costco traffic.
Standing in the kid section of my Costco grocery cart, was my naked Meg, swinging the purple dress I put her in that morning like a Hustler cowgirl trying to catch a steer.
“Meg!” I yelled reaching to stop her from falling as well as shield patrons from her nakedness. “What are you doing?!”
My sister laughed so hard, bits of the bagel pizza sample she was chewing started spewing everywhere. Meg stood proud, smiling and waving, like a true queen on parade, to each passerby that laughed and pointed.
“We’re potty training,” I tried to explain to anyone that would listen.
“We did our training at home,” said an older lady who was obviously horrified at my lack of mothering…and authority.
Two weeks later we went to a Christening celebration for the new baby of my friend, Monica. Thank goodness it was in her home, because ten minutes after arriving Meg spilled juice on her shirt.
“Off!” Meg yelled, ripping at her sleeves.
I knew I had another shirt in my diaper bag and helped her remove the shirt before she started screaming in front of the other guests I barely knew. Once the shirt was off I quickly ran to retrieve the other outfit and was horrified to find I hadn’t packed extra clothes.
When I returned to the kitchen, I was relieved to see Meg had not removed anything else.
I soon relaxed into a chair with two of Monica’s friendly aunts, who were so nice and kind, I didn’t know what to do when I caught a glimpse of Meg running stark naked behind them.
My instinct was to ignore…but I couldn’t help watch in horror as the other little kids chased my naked one through the main part of Monica’s home. They were all laughing so hard, others began to notice and laugh as well. That’s when I fantasized I was a piece of butter, that would quickly melt into the carpet and disappear…at least till it was time to go.
Meg was clueless. She had a balloon in her hands and that’s all she seemed to care about.
Finally Meg ran up to me, “Mom…can’t get this…”
Hiding was not an option and I was forced to act completely flabbergasted at my daughter’s exhibitionist behavior, “MEG! What happened to your clothes!?”
That night at home I sat Meg down to try to explain that we only take off our clothes when we are at home or when we have to go potty.
My husband, Brad, laughed, “Babe, she’s only 2.”
“Oh…she knows what she is doing,” I attested, as Meg looked up at me and smiled.
The very next day we went to lunch and as we were just about finished, Meg dropped her water all over the table, drenching our food and her skirt.
Before reacting to the soaking items, I pulled Meg’s face to mine and spoke clearly, “Meg, Mommy knows you are wet, please, do not take off any of your clothes!”
“Me get napkins,” Meg nodded dashing off to the utensil area as Ty and I began cleaning the table. Suddenly I heard the sound of ladies laughing. I looked up to see Meg, standing in front of four businesswomen, pulling off her shirt.
I froze in my options: Do I rush to stop her? Cry? Scream? Pretend she is not my child? I did none of those. I just sat down at our soggy table and laughed. My husband was right; she’s only 2, she’ll grow out of this one day. And until then, I decided to enjoy the scene unfolding as if I was a stranger and that ostentatious child belonged to another mother. My son stared at me making sure it was okay before he doubled over in laughter as well.
“Me naked!” Meg yelled as she ran back to me with the napkins we needed.
“I know!” I was laughing so hard tears were rolling down my cheeks.
“Me got to go potty!” Meg shouted to the world, as if she realized it the moment she said it.
“Let’s go!” I quickly wiped my eyes and grabbed Meg’s hand as we ran to the bathroom. And for the first time in a public place, my little girl went potty on the toilet.
“Me a big girl…” Meg looked at me in all her bareness. Suddenly I felt a need to hold her forever. “Where my clothes? Me need dry clothes Mommy.”
I laughed as I nodded.
Laughter is good medicine for moments like these. These young school years are challenging, but they are good reminders that my kids won’t be little forever. Which is why I won’t forget these agonizing moments…and will make sure to write them down so she won’t either!