One day when Luke was about 22-months-old he asked to poop on the potty. Positive that nothing would come of it, I said sure and popped him onto the toilet. To my utter amazement, he pooped and peed and asked for underpants. So began Luke’s potty training.
To encourage his potty interest, I rewarded him with one M&M for pee and two for poop. We spent the next few days at home, drinking lots of juice, spending waaaaaaay more time than I liked in our tiny downstairs bathroom, and eating M&Ms.
The M&Ms were a huge hit. He had never had any candy before and I think they blew his mind. For the next several months, I continued with the M&M rewards. Luke was only too happy to go to the bathroom. But that’s not the point of this story. Unintentionally, I ingrained in his mind a very strong association between M&Ms and going potty. It never occurred to him that M&Ms exist outside of that paradigm. Until the day I took him to a puppet show.
This was a huge mistake. The whole endeavor was a disaster and I should have known better. The show was a marionette version of the story of Perseus. Seriously. WTF was I thinking? We arrived and hit the potties first thing. On our way back to our seats we passed the concession stand; feeling generous and still naively excited for our outing, I bought Luke some chips. Luke was so excited to be in the theater. Barely big enough to hold the folding seat down, he sits, waits, and munches on chips. This is going to be great!
Waiting has never been one of Luke’s strengths. Soon he’s restless and bored. This is when he notices two girls, maybe 11 years old, sitting in the row in front of us, but five or six seats down to our right. They are eating M&Ms. (Were you wondering how this was going to tie in?) A whole big concession-stand-sized bag of M&Ms. Luke had never seen such a large bag of M&Ms, had never seen M&Ms aside from the one or two he’d get for going potty. He was amazed, fascinated and wanted to know everything.
“Mommy! Look! Doze girls go potty?”
I can’t stop what happens next. As the lights begin to fade Luke leans over the (occupied) chair in front of him to get the girls’ attention. “Girls! Hey! Girls! ‘Cuze me! You go poop on the potty?” This is loud. Everyone looks, including the girls, who are mortified. I pull, I hush, I hold him on my lap. I try to make him (and everyone) pay attention to the show that’s beginning on stage. But Luke is nothing if not a determined little bugger. He needs to find out how one gets hold of a huge bag of M&Ms. What exactly does he have to do on the potty to get that? He simply must know.
He continued to harass the poor, humiliated girls. “Was it big poops? Pee too?” It couldn’t get worse for these girls. I was able to distract him for a few minutes with the show, but he quickly realized that he didn’t know WTF was going on, (Perseus, really?), and he was too young to care. Naturally, all the other kids in the audience were watching quietly.
We stayed for maybe 20 minutes. Definitely 20 minutes too long. Every couple of minutes he lurched forward again to re-humiliate the girls by asking detailed questions about their bowel movements. Of course no one had any idea why my son was so curious about any of this. There was no explanation to the world at large saying, “The girls have M&Ms and my son potty trained with M&M rewards so he has this strong association…” This M&M:Potty affiliation was just his own.
Those poor girls.
I finally dragged him out of there while he screamed, “BUT I WANT TO KNOW IF THEY POOPED!” As the excellent mother I am, I yelled at him the whole drive home, promising I would never take him anywhere ever again. And we soon stopped the M&M reward system altogether.
Stupidly, I will probably take Luke to another marionette show at some point in his life.