it’s not you + it sure ain’t me

my pumpkins

In teaching my son Lucas to poop in the jackpot, bribes have most certainly been involved. Only, they hadn’t been effective until we roped in authorities (thanks to the suggestion of a reader).

In an uncharacteristically piercing falsetto, Sir Topham Hatt, the controller of Thomas’ railway, visited our home, tapping my Kind Sir on the shoulder, stating simply that the trains detest poo and peep, and that they’d (the trains) unfortunately need to leave the house if the poo or peep went anywhere aside from the pot. “They can’t be very useful engines when it’s stinky around here.”

“No, no, sweetie. See, he’s going to take the trains away. Not mama, not papa, it’s him. Sir Topham Hatt is one controlling motherfcker.” Except I didn’t say, “controlling.”

Herein lies the bribe: “Oh, but how all steam engines will return swiftly, along with some *new* friends, if there are no accidents.”

STRATEGY: When poo or pee happen anywhere outside of the toilet, all of his coveted trains are taken away (don’t blame us! Not our rule)! When poo or pee happen in the toilet, the trains come back, sometimes even with a BRAND NEW TRAIN! You can use this strategy with whatever toys/theme is their favorite (dolls, legos, Barbie, puzzle pieces, whatever’s their fav).

Because the emphasis was on accident avoidance, and not on rewarding each and every time he successfully hit the jackpot, Kind Sir wasn’t racing to the loo every four minutes, looking for a new train to arrive.



For a brief time we dealt with some confusion and carpet poo, reiterating Sir Topham Hatt’s message—not only removing a single train but all of them (including their much loved tender cars).

Total Side Note: Before having children, I would’ve believed that the tender car was just a fancy way of saying BAR CAR, fit with a phenomenal b’tender who fixes old school drinks, say, a sidecar. Nope. They carry lumps of coal on steam locomotives.

Sir Topham Hatt became our official poop scapegoat. And that’s the key to so much of parenting a preschooler: the blame game. Pin the rules on someone else’s backside.

“Oh, noooo. The timer says it’s time to clean up. Me? Oh, I want to stay and play, too! But, the timer went off, so, we do what we’ve got to do.” If only this technique worked for adults.

Oh, yeah. It does.

“See, I’d totally come, except my doctor said I’m bedridden.”
Translation: I’m too fat to fit in the bridesmaid dress you picked.

“I know! He’s being a grouch. So, we’ll all get together for that yarn lover’s potluck next year then, right?”
Translation: I’d rather lick a rectum than spend a free Sunday with your hee-haw friends.

When I stop to think about it, we don’t just do it casually, as a polite “don’t blame me” exit strategy. We’ve been doing it since we were in grade school, with the encouragement of our own parents. “Go, on, sweetheart. Just tell your friends that your parents won’t let you.”
Translation: I’m afraid of nightclubs and pot and alcohol, but I don’t want people to know it, so I’ll blame my not being able to go on my parents.

We actually pay people to play the bad guy. My lawyer says, my agent handles those requests; I’ll need to run it by the wife, up the flagpole… out of my ass. Because, yes, it all translates roughly into, “NO.”

Fully potty-trained for well over a month now, Lucas, age 3, was restless in his chair over dinner the other night. Fidgeting, eager for everyone to finish so he may be excused from the table, he put his foot on the table, testing boundaries. “Lucas, no feet on the table.”

Lucas took his foot off the table as he said, “WHY? Does Sir Topham Hatt have a problem with that, too?!” He’s a real smart ass now that his ass is always dry.



  1. I wish I’d thought of that when by Thomas-loving little boy still wasn’t potty-trained at 3!

  2. Congrats on the potty training, my son took about the same amount of time.

    You could not have chosen a better controlling motherfucker than Sir Topham Hatt. Sordor can be most charitably described as a benovelent dictatorship, and often is a cruel sweatshop autocracy run by Der Hatt. I’m also consistently amazed how petty and viscious the engines somtimes are to each other. It’s not like other childrens television. I’m still not sure whether its educational or just demented. The only thing weirder is the absence of Max and Ruby’s parents.

  3. Aw, SK! So cool that you made it funny and not punitive. Glad it is mostly behind you (and the puns keep a coming on this topic). If Sir TH is not busy, can you send him my way to stop my 3 kids from waking up at 4:57 every day, and somehow deal with the one who likes to discuss male genitalia in the synogauge?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.