How Can I Flush My Kid's Potty Humor?

By Rebekah Hunter Scott,

Now that my son is four, he has developed a penchant for potty humor. Words I'd been using for months in my valiant (and extremely drawn-out) attempt to potty-train him I'm now hearing him use in everyday conversations. Loud ones. Sometimes with complete strangers.

I understand this is something all kids go through-one day it dawns on them that the phrase "poopy bottom" is actually quite hilarious when taken out of context. And I suppose such humor has made for some successful low-brow comedies at the box office, but if he keeps using phrases like "Big Pee-Pee Butthead," the only movie my son will star in is Seven Years In Time-Out.

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So how do I stifle this less-than-desirable stand-up routine? I feel like I've tried several different methods, none of which is working very well. I've found myself telling him, "We don't say butt in this house, we say bottom," over and over like some prissy, uptight broken record, but this only works for about two seconds. As soon as he hears his little sister burst into hearty chuckles over his word choice, he completely forgets I'm within earshot and launches into a torrent of potty talk that could easily find its way into a Farrelly Brothers' script.

The other day I tried to simply ignore it. Both kids were speaking in their native Butt tongue, so I just went in the other room and pretended I couldn't hear them. They took this as their cue to string together sentences with as many anatomical and bodily function adjectives as they possibly could. The longer and more disgusting the monologue, the harder they laughed. I've gotta say, some of their more descriptive attempts were quite creative. I'd never realized the phrase Stinky Butt Pee-Pee Pants could be both a noun and a verb. It was like they were having a contest to see who could be cruder. I think it was a tie.

I think the main issue I have with my otherwise angelic children having gutter mouths is that if I don't squelch their phraseology now, I'm going to have a problem on my hands when they get older. How I dread being on the receiving end of a phone call where their teacher is telling me about the latest gem my child has uttered.

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Are my kids going to be the ones other kids can't play with because their friends might pick up bad words like so many playground germs? Am I going to wind up the PTA pariah, mother to the Andrew Dice Clays of the elementary school? Maybe I should start shopping for mini leather jackets and hair grease now.

I have to admit, there are times when I overhear the two of them in a conversation chock full of potty words and I find myself laughing. It's not necessarily what they're saying that I find so funny, but how enamored they are with the words themselves. They've discovered just how deliciously funny it is to use language in unexpected ways, ways that can generate powerful responses from others.

If they can get a laugh, a gasp, any kind of reaction from their audience, it only makes them want to really push the envelope. Which I've learned is pretty much the standard MO for all toddlers and preschoolers. They're all comedians in the making.

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And I get it. I was there once. When I was a kid, my mouth got me into plenty of trouble. I was sassy, fresh, bawdy and brash (okay, according to my dad I still am). I'm sure I often used the very words I'm desperately trying to banish from my own kids' lips, and I turned out okay…right?

So I guess I should just try to accept this latest phase for what it is, and be glad that at least my kids have a healthy, albeit infantile, sense of humor. What parent can't beam at the sound of their children's laughter? Even if it is the direct result of one of them passing gas? Laugh it up, chuckleheads. Laugh it up.

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