Posted by: Cecilia | February 22, 2010

Go wipe yourself!

At 5 Fred is still lazy about doing alot of things himself: getting dressed and undressed, brushing his teeth, etc. He can do all these things but he just won’t if he knows that I’m around to do them for him. And whose fault is it? On an almost regular basis I get him out of his pajamas and into his day clothes so we can make it to school on time or I’ll do the brushing so we can postpone the inevitable cavity diagnosis. But he is turning 6 soon so over the last few weeks I had decided that I would need him to get used to doing some of these essential self-care tasks himself, starting with wiping himself after potty. 

My first step involved conducting “wiping training” which Fred calls my “classes.” (“Mommy, you have to come in here. Remember you have to teach your class?”) These “classes” involve me sitting on the floor opposite him and walking him through the steps of good hiney hygiene: (1) measure out an appropriate number of toilet paper squares; (2) tear; (3) fold into an appropriate length; (4) wipe; (5) assess; (6) repeat until clean; (7) pull up pants; (8) flush toilet; (9) wash hands with soap; (10) dry hands and leave bathroom, turning off the lights.

Whew! 10 steps. An average wiping training class takes as long as the actual pooping session itself. It’s no wonder I’ve been doing the express method instead. But I know, I know…teach a 5 year-old how to fish and…

My classes have met with some success. Fred is a cooperative pupil and he comes home now with snow white underpants. But I wonder if yesterday I decided to graduate him too early. I had a cold and had just comfortably settled myself into bed in the middle of the day. (Max was home so I could do this.) Fred made the usual announcement about needing to poop and headed to the bathroom. This time when he yelled “I’m done!” I decided that he should wipe himself in consideration of my condition. However, he refused to comply and screamed “No” repeatedly from the bathroom. Normally I am the loser in these battles of the will, but today I was determined to teach him a lesson in consideration as well as independence. I was going to stick to my maternal guns until I exhausted my arsenal of bright ideas and psychological manuevers. I was down to my last weapon.

Me: You know what, I’m going to start charging you for bum-bum wipes.

Fred: Huh?

Me: I’m going to make you pay me money. You know, I can be lazy and not wash my own bathtub. I can hire someone to wash it for me. But I’d have to pay her.

Fred: No fair!

Me: Oh, it’s very fair. Because who’d want to come to my house and wash my bathtub and get her hands dirty for free? I’m going to charge you $1 every time I wipe you.

Fred: NOT FAIR! (continued wailing)

Me: It’s not like you’re a baby! You can do this! It’s bad enough I have to wipe my own butt. Why do I need to wipe yours too? It’s a job, so I should get paid.

Silence. Maybe this did it. Finally, I thought, and my shoulders began to relax under my blanket as I gave myself mental permission to stay in bed.

Fred: Okay, okay! I’ll do it!

Me: So you’ll wipe your bum bum?

Fred: No, I”ll pay you!!


Needless to say that what felt like an exasperating and hair-pulling half hour later I ended up wiping Fred, flushing the toilet, washing my hands with soap and turning the lights off myself.

Correction: always I am the loser in these battles of the will.



  1. This is hilarious!

  2. Just got to your blog from NYT comment. This is SO funny.

    • Barbara and Sarah, Nothing like using kids’ raw material – you can’t make this stuff up! Thanks for reading!

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