Thursday, September 15, 2005

Childraising Mistakes I Have Made--Potty Training

About the time our older daughter was old enough for us to begin acclimating her to the idea of toilet training, the cat we had at the time began her own toilet training regimen: she decided to forgo her own good litterbox habits in order to train us, her negligent staff, to pay more attention to her royal, purebred, Persian self.

Understand that I adored this cat. I'd had her longer than I'd had Great Scott. She'd been through half of high school, all of college and the first few years of marriage, a faithful friend and comfort. Unfortunately, the stress of a new baby immediately followed by a move into a new house while Great Scott was working seventy to eighty hours a week, most of them at night, had strained my nerves to the limit, not to mention my patience.

One afternoon after having stepped (barefoot) in two freshly hacked hairballs and cleaning up three litterbox deposits that had been obviously deliberately left outside the allotted space (halfway across the house, no less), I snapped. Furiously I grabbed the cat by the scruff of her neck and bore her aloft and struggling into the bathroom. Once there, I dropped her in the toilet, flung down the lid and flushed.

I have never heard such a sound since. This cat had a particularly loud and deep voice, and she put its range to full use. Agonized yowls and wails errupted from the bowl; it sounded like a cross between emergency sirens and the heavy groaning of stressed metal. Still shaking with anger, but also horrified at what I had just done, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard a faint squeak behind me. There stood our eighteen month old daughter, blonde pixie curls trembling around her pale little face, her eyes as big as teacups, her mouth open in terror as she watched the cat's desperate paws, claws extended, emerge from between the seat and the porcelain bowl, scrabbling for purchase.

Hastily I opened the lid to show her the cat was still alright. Still yowling, the cat agonizingly pulled herself dripping from the bowl like some soggy Swamp Thing feline zombie, her copper eyes bugging out, her thick fur plastered flat against her scrawny frame, her mouth wide open and wailing, and her once plumy tail resembling nothing so much as a giant rat's tail lashing behind her. My child shrieked, "NOOOO!" and ran sobbing in panic from the room.

You couldn't get that child anywhere near a toilet for two whole years.


alaiyo said...

LuCindy, I think the incident must have been pretty horrifying for everyone at the time (especially perhaps the cat), but since time has passed (or past, as my students faithfully write), and daughter #1 appears to be as normal as any child raised by two English folk can be, it is the most hilarious thing I've heard in weeks. I am sitting here laughing out loud in my office, tears running down my cheeks; good thing no one else is in yet this morning.

Oh, my. Thanks. I needed that. You are a wonderful, wonderful woman, and your blessings pour out on me in so many different ways.



seeker said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I've got tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.

Megan said...

Me too. Whew--i needed a laugh--Thanks!! I'm glad my cat, Psyche, can't read this post; she'd be worried I'd try it!

Fieldfleur said...

I guess that cured your cat from drinking out of the toilet, eh?

Funny stuff.

Connie said...

Dear Cindy,
Been there. Haven't done quite that, but probably would have if a full sized Sheltie fitted the toilet. In those moments I have often found that isolating myself in a dark closet for a few minutes helps. Mmmmmmmm.

GrumpyTeacher1 said...

It is a really funny story. On the other hand, shopping all over town for diapers big enough for that kid was not.

Joyella said...

My cat was a toilet drinker and before she had mastered the technique she had many wet slips (I confess I was known to startle her on purpose on occasion), although she kept coming back for more.
Had your daughter been older, it may have been even more traumatic, like diapers until she was 6 or something!

Sue Bohlin said...

Stolen to post on our church's MOPS Yahoo groups!!! (Oh, the joys of being a Mentor Mom, the qualification for which is the fact that I raised two sons to adulthood without killing either one of them. . .)

You're wonderful and I love you!


Cindy said...

So glad our trauma could entertain you all so! :)

Feeble Knees said...

This is dangerous to read on a day when I am hugely, ridiculously pregnant with hugely, ridiculously swollen feet and my dear old sick kitty is keeps following me from room to room, crying loudly and incessantly for fresh cups of water that he then will not drink.

But at least I now recognize that perhaps it would be best for me and for kitty if I calmly leave the house for an hour or so before I'm tempted to flush him...

There should be a Pet Owner Crisis Hotline for people like us on days like this!

GrumpyTeacher1 said...

Then there's the younger one, who dove headfirst into a toilet.

Kids these days.

Chica. said...

Um...I don't know whether to laugh or cry...but, I'm certainly glad that I'm not the only one who's thought of killing their pet on more than one occasion!