Tuesday, April 27, 2010


One of my memories of being in elementary school, is doing "enrichment" worksheets.  These assignments consisted of exercises that enforced a concept that we students might be having difficulty grasping.  My enrichment worksheets usually had to do with long division.  Sadly, I never fully grasped this concept.

We've been working on a different kind of enrichment in our home lately.  The concept that we're working on is the minute details of using the bathroom.  I should clarify that when I mean "we" I mean Hadley.  Hadley has had the concept down for almost a year now, but there are little accidents here and there, and she hasn't picked up the bathroom etiquette that one needs in life.  I won't go into details, but I would assume that many a parent who's potty trained their toddler can make some guesses as to what I'm talking about.

And that is why I am quite thankful for two books: Potty Animals by Hope Vestergaard, and Oh No, Gotta Go #2 by Susan Middleton Elya.  Both these books deal with the issues a toddler might deal with after she's learned how to go potty, and they deal with them in a fun, friendly, and non disgusting way.  They have two other things going for them as well.  Potty Animals has animals as the main characters, something Hadley thinks is fantastic, and Susan Middlteton Elya writes part of Oh No, Gotta Go #2 in Spanish.  Hadley loves speaking Spanish.  She calls Jesse "Papi."  She'll tell me, "Wow!  The sky is so azul today!"  And if she doesn't know a Spanish word for something, she'll just make it up.

So reading these two stories have been quite fun the last several weeks.  Before naps and bedtime each day, these two have been the stories Hadley's requested.  The Spanish words in Oh No, Gotta Go #2! are ones that Hadley already knows, and if she didn't know them, she had a good time figuring out what they were from the pictures or other English words in the sentences.  And in Potty Animals Hadley loved looking at the pictures of the animals on the playground, or in their classroom.  She is pretty interested in school these days as well, so seeing what kids do in school is fun for her.

I don't know what age it starts, but one of the things I love about books is that if you connect with a character, the story is so much more powerful.  And in these books, Hadley could absolutely understand what these kids were going through.  In Oh No, Gotta Go #2!, the little girl can't figure out why she has to use the bathroom because she used it before they left for their picnic, and she didn't drink any juice or water the entire time.  This is the kind of conversation we have with Hadley all the time.  But it usually ends up with a fight.  However, watching the little girl go through the same thing, and seeing the parents in the book scramble like crazy people to get her home, Hadley could see she's not the only person who this happens too.  She can also see that she's not the only one whose parents lose their minds when this sort of situation occurs.  Plus, it's in Spanish, so it has to be cool.

In Potty Animals, the author dedicates a page to one "habit" that an animal does and discusses why, in a very cute poetic way, why this habit is not appreciated by society - or ones classmates.  For example, please don't walk in on someone else when they are in the bathroom.  Or, understand that as fun as the game you are playing is, if you have to use the bathroom, you must use the bathroom.

Another bonus is Hadley learning the word "lollygag."  One of the animals tends to take more time then she needs to in the bathroom.  The author uses the word "lollygag," and Hadley and I had many conversations about what that means.  I remember once listening to Katherine Paterson speak about her writing.  She said that someone was complaining to her that the words she used in her childrens books were "too hard."  Her response was basically, "So learn the word!"  She went on to say that one of the great things about reading is that we learn new words.

Potty etiquette is not a fun subject.  Frankly, it's disgusting.  But it's something that Hadley needs to know, and we are responsible for teaching her about these things.  I am thankful for these two books not only because they helped me to discuss the subject with Hadley, but they are clever stories with great illustrations as well.  Hadley learned new words, she sharpened up her Spanish, and she is one step closer to mastering a tough skill.  Not too shabby.

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