When Is The Right Time To Teach Appropriate Topics For Public Conversation?


The toilet has always been a popular subject in our house.

We talk about it constantly, and I have lost count of the number of songs I have made up about it, usually to the lyrics of classic tunes such as I Need A Hero by Bonnie Tyler (“I Need a WEE WEE!  I’m holding on for a wee wee on the toilet tonight,” etc, etc, you get the drift).

However, as much as I enjoy discussing scatological matters with Piglet in a humorous way, there comes a point when it comes back to bite me on the bum, if you’ll kindly excuse the pun, and for me this was the other day, on the 15.50 from Totnes to York via Bristol Temple Meads.

“Need a poo!” Piglet says suddenly.

Now considering we have not been potty training long, and Piglet often doesn’t recognise his toiletry requirements until they are literally exiting the requisite orifice, I considered this to be something of an emergency, especially as, as previously stated, we are sitting opposite each other across a table on a Cross Country locomotive full of people returning from a nice weekend in the South West.  Fortunately, however, I have carefully selected a seat near a toilet, not that Piglet will use it, as he is demanding to be put in a nappy so that he can do the deed.

Less than a minute later we have made an emergency trip to the bathroom and Piglet is nappied up and quite literally ready to go.  He is also so happy about this that he then proceeds to return to our seat and proudly describe the events taking place inside his nappy in real time, loudly, across the table, as though he is doing the football commentary, but with added straining.

It is, it goes without saying, hilarious, at least for me, but as I so often seem to be in a public forum, I am worrying what others will think of my parenting, and so the well dones and the adapted Bonnie Tyler songs that would usually accompany such an event are somewhat toned down.

And as I’m sure Carrie in Sex And The City would if she was a) a mother and b) a frequent user of Cross Country trains, I got to thinking, how far should we worry about whether we are offending others when on public transport?

On the journey down to Devon several days earlier, Piglet was entertained for twenty minutes or so by a fellow passenger talking and playing with him, which at one point led to him being so excited that he started screeching, as toddlers frequently do, and the man sat opposite us trying to read his book was so appalled by the noise that he got up and sat elsewhere.  This prompted several other passengers to then berate him for being so rude, and start conversations about “kids being kids,” etc, and being of the non-confrontational type, I was mortified by the whole thing.   Often, as a parent, I feel as though I should be walking around with an sign around my neck pleading for others not to judge me.  I am a good parent, really.  I’m trying my best, at least.  I’m just a person trying to figure out when is the appropriate time to tone down the squeals, to call a halt to the running around, to intervene when the toddler is having an increasingly heated discussion with another child about the rightful owner of a ball.

And then I remember, toddlers are toddlers.  They will screech, and they will have conversations about poo on trains.  It won’t last forever, and one day, probably on their sixteenth birthday, I will be the one hollering “I need a WEE WEE!  I’m holding on for a wee on the toilet tonight!” to the tune of I Need A Hero by Bonnie Tyler, at them whilst they sink through the floor with shame, and then I will miss those times when they always knew that the right thing to say at that point was to warn me not to “poo on the floor because the dogs might step in it.”

So will I be teaching my toddler not to give a running commentary on the progress of his poo?  Hell no, I’ll be enjoying it while it lasts, and singing about it for as long as possible.

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