Learning At The Potter's Wheel is a collection of articles on home, family, marriage, parenting, natural medicine and herbs. . . along with a few other items of interest. Have fun sorting through my junk drawer of assorted thoughts and ramblings.


The Potter has persisted in giving me treasures I don't always understand or appreciate. Patiently, He is teaching me to trust that all I really need to know is that I am in HIS hands. . .

A specPOOPular Day!

I've potty trained three boys. All my sons have a flair for creative arts. All my sons like their independence. Today was a day that my youngest son decided to demonstrate his abilities in all three areas at once. *sigh*

Z-man is 4. He is potty trained. He needs a little help with clothing issues and clean up, but that's not a problem. Dry nights happen occasionally, but we aren't 100% there yet. Z-man has Down syndrome, but that wasn't our hurdle today.

Today was the day Daddy happened to be home when Z-man decided (again) that he really didn't like having to ask for help to go to the potty. 'I mean, c'mon Mom. I'm learning the sounds of my letters, how to write, how to count. It's HUMILIATING for a big kid like me to have to ask . . .'

Yesterday, he took himself to go pee. That was a big deal because he is just finally tall enough to stand there like his dad & older brothers. In a way that men understand better than I do, he was feeling quite accomplished and proud.

I was in the kitchen getting lunch. Dad was half-asleep in the recliner. Big brother was working on an art project, and Z-man must have thought it was time to take matters into his own hands . . . literally.

Now, I've encountered this before. I did not handle it well. In fact, I was reduced to a fit of alternating tears and gagging. But, the reality is that I managed to clean up everything and the child without deciding run away from home. By the time my husband got home, I just needed supportive words and a really, really good hug (mingled with sympathetic utterances). Duke was more than equal to the task.

Today, however, as I moved the food around in the pan, "B" (the 7 year old) rushed into the kitchen breathless, "Z has had a REALLY bad accident in our room. It's everywhere!" I washed my hands and wondered if we had lost another pair of underwear down the toilet. That happened once before when Z-man decided that he would take care of an accident the same way Mom did it. Only he forgot to hold onto the underwear which is now in the septic tank.

My thoughts were interrupted by a guttural explosion from my husband. He only knows one language, but it was something more primal than his native English. The emotion was easily understood and I rushed to the noise. I caught enough of a glimpse of the restroom to know that we had a replay of the "I can handle this myself" syndrome. Bits of brown mush covered the toilet seat, lid and sides. I knew without looking that the light switch, door knob, floor, cabinetry and sink (where he attempted to wash his hands) would also be covered.

The new twist to this was the bedroom. (Thank you, Duke for getting that vinyl flooring in there!) Apparently, after trying to take care of things himself in the restroom, Z-man walked back to his bedroom. (Think about the walls, door knobs & light switches that got touched on his way.)

Once arriving in his bedroom (I'm piecing this together from the forensic evidence left behind), he decided that he really should get some clean clothes as he was now bottomless (except for the smearing of brown). The footprints (yes, poopy footprints) went over to the chest of drawers where he began to systematically remove clothing and determine (for whatever reason) that THIS garment wasn't the fashion statement he wanted to make today. Of course, the fact that he only needed bottoms didn't keep him from examining ALL of the clothing in all of the drawers that he could reach. I found finger-marks where he tried for the high drawers, but mercifully, couldn't get to those.

Again, you must imagine that lots of brown is being smeared on AND IN drawers at this point.

As each garment is given the thumbs-down, it is tossed aside with a smudge of brown. Oh, I almost forgot, when he stooped to investigate the lower drawers, a brown butt-print was left on the vinyl. The flinging meant that the walls were now coordinated with the floor and drawers (and his bottom).

I had to take all of this in quickly as at the moment, Duke (big strong man that he is) was coming a bit unglued. It was something between a bark and a wail (as he had never yet encountered Z-man's attempt at bowel independence). I checked in the bathroom and found that Z-man was standing crying in the tub while Duke surveyed the aftermath (he hadn't seen the bedroom yet). Apparently, one glimpse at his father's face was enough to convince Z-man that his activities were not appreciated.

I went to the garage, got a couple of buckets, pulled on my ratty clothes, pulled my hair back and began the process of dePOOPulating the bedroom. Thankfully the surfaces are all washable (YAY!) in there as are those in the bathroom. I could still hear Duke giving Z-man the "You Come and get Mommy or Daddy!" lecture as he attempted to de-brown the child and the room.

We used nearly all of our washrags and at least 5 or 6 bath towels. That coupled with 3/4 of Z-man's entire wardrobe means that we'll be doing lots of laundry tonight.

I thought back to the days following Z-man's diagnosis with Down syndrome. I was a mixture of emotions. One of the predominant emotions was that of the need to fight for my child to have every opportunity to fulfill his greatest potential and have the fullest life he could have. Duke was dealing with things in a much different way. All he could see at the time was a tiny, helpless baby. He looked at me and said, "What happens when you want him to do something -- say climb the stairs -- and he looks at you and says, 'I can't'?"

I paused and responded, "Well, then I'll tell him that the stairs aren't going anywhere, and if he wants to get where he's going, he will have to find another way up them, because the world won't build him any ramps." Duke was still reeling from the information from the doctor, the lab, and the cardiologist. He just looked at me as though I was the most unfeeling person he ever met. The future was too much to contemplate for him. It was all I could think about, because the present was too much for me.

Today, I recalled that conversation and smiled. Z-man didn't ask anyone to help him over the hurdle. Z-man HATES asking for help. He is DETERMINED to climb those stairs BY HIMSELF.

Good heart, Z-man.
Now, about your technique . . .

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God ~I Corinthians 2:9,10~


  1. DesertSpring said...

    "I just read your article in the latest NGJ. When I was 12, my parents had a baby with Downs. At the time, it didn't bother me and my brothers much. It wasn't until much later that I understood what my parents, especially my Mom, went through when they found out. Reading your testimony in the article felt like I was reading something my Mom had written.

    I downloaded the latest NGJ from the internet. Mom and Dad get the printed version, which probably won't get there for a couple weeks. I know the article will catch Mom's attention. I know the fact that you have experienced many of the same things she has will mean a lot to her.

    I saw the address for your blog in the NGJ and clicked on the "Down Syndrome" link. This post caught my eye and I laughed and laughed as I read it. Our Benjamin never made near as big a mess as your son, but I do remember countless "blowouts," as we called them. The term is pretty self-explanatory, just imagine a poopy diaper where the poop doesn't stay in the diaper. They were especially bad when he had them during naps. Poop would get smeared everywhere! I remember times when poop had leaked all the way down Benjamin's legs or was smeared halfway up his back. All you could do was carry him at arm's length to the tub, strip him down, and give him a bath. Once I even caught him dipping his hand into his diaper and TASTING the brown stuff.

    So now that I've grossed you out (don't forget, you started this with your post!) and hopefully made you laugh, too, I'd better be going. Just remember that your son doesn't have the corner on the market when it comes to brown finger-painting!


    Ah, yes Nathan. *smiling, nodding* It seems to be one of those universal parental experiences, doesn't it?

    I'm glad you enjoyed the articles both here and in NGJ. Mrs. Debi assured me that the feelings were shared but not often spoken of as we tend to like to skip ahead to the outcomes. The thought of any other mother having those feelings and having false guilt heaped on her was enough to make me pull out the tissue box and get typing.

    I cannot say enough nice things about the staff at NGJ. They are SUPER! No matter what nice things you may have thought, you've probably underestimated them. A sweeter, more God-fearing, workaholic bunch you'll not find.

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