Things of Steel: Cars, Trains, Bladders, and Resolve

You may think I’m prone to exaggeration, but I’m going to go ahead and prop up my stereotype by saying that after this weekend, I’m convinced there is no more tortured soul than my Thing One. Drew has the market cornered on preschool-variety angst.

We Might Have Provoked It.

OK, we probably did. Actually, there’s really no question that this weekend was completely our fault in every single way.

Gordon and I thought it was high time for a little family fun of the first order given the long weekend. Maybe we drive into Granbury? Check out the Weatherford Peach Festival? Then it hit us: Hey! Let’s go see Cars 2! (While we’re potty training.) And then let’s take Drew to relive the single-most scary memory of his life — the Forest Park Train — just to see if he’s outgrown his fear. Just for, you know, fun. Then, hey, let’s keep potty training and prove our undeniable awesomeness as first-rate parenting gurus.

Here’s Drew before we entered the movie.

That dubious expression on his face intensified when we entered the theater lobby. This was his first movie theater experience ever. I had never noticed before how incredibly loud theater lobbies are, what with all the projected media blaring music and videos, and the arcade guns hammering out rounds of animated ammo.

And dark. Theater lobbies are dark. Their hallways: even darker. And the ramps leading up into the theaters themselves? Pitch black.

Amazingly, Drew weathered it fine — I mean, he flinched a little when the Dolby Digital Sound light and audio advertisement rattled in our teeth. Madeline, with her fistful of popcorn, took it all in the way you might eyeball your new teacher on the first day of school.

And besides Madeline’s projectile vomit halfway through the show — due to popcorn gagging, I think — and besides Drew falling asleep with 30 minutes left, we chalked up Cars 2 as a success.

But there was a feeling emanating from Drew, a feeling of relief at having just exerted a lot of energy to adapt. It was wafting off him like radioactivity.

Then I made him come to the bathroom with me and face his fear of flushing public toilets. I let him push it himself with the sole of his blue Croc. Then he visited the urinals with Daddy.

This was Face Your Fears Boot Camp Day, and we were winning!

Oh Yes. We Were Winning.

We persisted: OK, it’s time to go ride the train. Yippee!

Not go wide twain, Mommy, says Drew.

(What’s this? Resistance?)

I’ll be fun! I say, like I’m lying, because I am, because I’m starting to believe this experience will not be fun.

Here’s Drew waiting for the train.

That dubious expression quickly turned to terror when I took hold of his hand to pull him onto a car.

The next moments are a blur: him screaming NOT WIDE TWAIN MOMMY; the way he clawed the metal railings of the seat, climbing up the inside of the car like an orangutan; how he broke free and jumped back onto the hot asphalt, sniffling.

We can’t make him ride this train, I hiss at Gordon, whose idea this really was in the first place. The fascist.

The train pulls away and we say, Next time Drew; we’ll ride it next time.


But it was too late. The Forest Park Train was chugging up towards the Trinity River like it has for the past 60 years, in which time, I’m sure, no other three-year-old has been so passionately on either side of the issue within a matter of 8.9 seconds.

Here’s how our interaction went on the ride home:

Drew (screaming): WIDE TWAIN MOMMY!

Me: You want to ride the train now?

Drew: YES!

Gordon: You want to go back?


Me: Drew, that’s why we left.


Gordon: I thought you were scared. You want to ride the train?


(Madeline: Dat. Boo.)

Me: Ok, we won’t ride the train!

Gordon: Drew, that’s why we left!


Gordon and Me: NO!

Drew: YES!

Gordon: You want to ride it?

Drew: NO!

(Madeline: Bee. Bo.)

A time-out and 3-hour nap later, Drew was ready to rejoin society. But I had been ruined through Sunday, where, at a 2-year-old birthday party, I drank too much vodka punch after a teary ride into Dallas that I spent questioning my fitness as a mother to Gordon.

(I wonder, where DOES Drew get his angst?)

Needless to say, the potty training this weekend took a grave turn.

A Bladder of Steel.

After the Saturday dramatics, Sunday was a three-ring circus of fear. Drew, somewhere along the course of a day, became afraid of peeing in his big boy pants. Glory-be, except that he is also afraid of going in the potty.

So what he developed was superhuman urine capacity, or SUC for short.

After we made him pee in the bushes on the way to church, Drew proceeded to hold himself for six hours — through Sunday school, lunch, even naptime.

He’s going to get a BLADDER INFECTION, Gordon keeps harping, as if he himself has had some experience with UTI.

By late afternoon, we had actually reached the point of begging our son to just USE YOUR DIAPER, BABY, when our much-anticipated Big Boy Day, or Diaper Death Day, is a mere three days away. Drew finally relieved himself in the Swim Diaper we put on him before leaving for the party.

Now, the only safe place to pee is the bushes, which I guess means that while he is not potty trained, Drew is sort of house broken.

I think the three-fold moral of this weekend is: don’t push your luck. Or your kid. Or yourself, around.

(But be sure to take a long weekend if you’re hell-bent on it.)
If you liked this blog, you might also like:
1. Cold Turkey: My Angst-y Approach to Potty Training
2. What the Rangers Can Teach a New Mommy

2 Comments to “Things of Steel: Cars, Trains, Bladders, and Resolve”
  1. Susan says:

    Drews angst over the twain reminds me of my niece Addison and her fear of the carwash! She wasn’t quite a year old the first time I drove through just the two of us. Halfway through the first brush sweep she was screaming bloody murder from her carseat!! I had no idea she would be so terrified. I probably waited about a year before we tried again… She had a her blanket and her sister by her side this time… The tears started streaming and the look of horror on her face was priceless. I turned on the old classic Silly Sing Along with Larry and before we knew it, it was over! A few tears but we survived! It took us several attempts like this before she started to enjoy the carwash in all it’s rainbow soapiness! She is now 3 and asks ME if we can go to the carwash!

    Good luck with the twain and the potty training!

    • Julie Rhodes says:

      Thanks Susan! Boy-howdy, those car washes ARE pretty scary, and when you’re inside one there’s no getting out ’til it’s over. Glad Addison has adapted.

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