A new rule every day...

Figuring stuff out (not easy when you're 3)

Raphael came trotting into the kitchen, wearing only a t-shirt. Now, he’d been fully clothed earlier, so I knew something had taken place since the last time I’d seen him.

“Raphi? Did you go poop?” I did not think my life would be filled with these sorts of queries when I was a starry-eyed child. Ah well.

“Yes.” He nodded proudly and waved one triumphant hand in the air. “I can handle it!” This is his battle cry whenever he has to poop. He races off to the bathroom, one hand urgently clutching the back of his pants. Should I follow him, he glowers at me and points one imperious finger at the door. “GO AWAY! I CAN HANDLE IT!” Then he strips down to nothing but a shirt and goes about his business. After some time he’ll start banging around in there, slamming down the toilet lid, and flushing multiple times, and I’ll poke my head in to remind him to wash his hands. Another glower, another reminder that he can handle it, and in a short amount of time there is water all over the bathroom counter, mirror, and floor, the soap dispenser is knocked on its side, spilling a pool of soap, and Raphi is off to rejoin his day, still pantsless.

Ah, the joys of independence.

So today when he ran up to me, nekkid butt proudly prancing, I reminded him,

“Did you wash your hands?” He nodded, then shot me a look. It was half amused; half worried, as though he were weighing the wisdom of sharing something with me. I waited.

“I did wash them.” Pause. “In the toilet.”

Blink, blink.


“I washed them in the toilet.” Big grin. I started to reach for his hand, but thought better of it, and grabbed his wrist.

“Come on, honey. Show me what you did.” He led me happily back to the bathroom, clambered onto the toilet, lifted the lid off the tank, and plunged his hands into the water. Whew.

The clean water in the back of the tank.


I helped him wash his hands in the sink, with actual soap, held his pants for him so he could rejoin the land of the clothed, and explained that from now on he should wash his hands in the sink. Always in the sink. He nodded soberly, and ran off to play.

I congratulated myself on handling that calmly and didn’t think of it again until this evening, when Tre called me from the library. He was there with Mom and Max, and used Mom’s cell phone to call home and see what was for dinner. When Raphael realized it was his brother on the phone, he leapt around, shrieking requests to talk to him. Finally I handed the phone over, and he gripped it in two hands.

“Hi Tre,” he said seriously, “I don’t need to wash my hands in the toilet.” Pause. “Why are you laughing?”



when dealing the Y chromosome and hand-washing it just plain is NEVER easy. my brother wore mittens on his hands, thinking he could dodge the bullet. i've had one who thought morning swim lessons at the Y were good for hand-washing immunity the entire day; and another one who insists that he "sweats" them clean on days when he has gym. it's ONLY soap and water guys!
(p.s. please tell me what you will about the photo of the little trio marching along the shoreline at right. i absolutely ADORE that photo! i assume the threesome alll belong to you, but even if they don't it's certainly worthy of inclusion here. it's beautiful!


Sometimes it will hit me, just how much time I spend thinking about, coping with and talking about other people's bodily functions, and it just amazes me. Cleaning out a tub that a baby has had diarrhea in is not something I ever imagined when I was dreaming about babies, once upon a time. I don't mind, it's never bothered me (except for the tub) but it really does amaze me.


I heart Raphi. I just really, really do.

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