Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pubic and Private

I have a very dirty sense of humor. I am not above poop and fart jokes or playing on ethnic, social, sexual, and gender stereotypes. Busting balls is a personal favorite. And I laugh loudest when someone gets me good.

So it is no surprise that my kids have developed a sense of humor about poop and fart jokes as well as private parts.

Potty humor was both my and Wife's fault. We would giggle and call out when someone farted. Make a big stink about a big stinky diaper. "What, are you putting out a fire?" when JD would pee for a long time.

Private part humor is age appropriate. They joke about each other's body parts and simply say, "Penis," or, "Vagina," just to get a laugh. Wife and I have never fed into this.

Quite the contrary, actually, we have always tried to mention private parts in the same breath as all body parts and have always used their real names, rather than creating baby-talk names. We respect the body and all of its parts.

JD, though, at some point started to realize that there was something different about these parts and would point them out in a joking manner. Bunny, being a quick study, picked up on the humor and ran with it.

Now, it is out of control. They constantly joke about poop, pee, farts, penises and vaginas.

JD's Autism shows up in that, once he thinks he said something funny, it is nearly impossible to reduce the impulse to say the funny thing again. If it was funny once, surely it will be funny the second, third, and one-hundred-seventy-ninth time.

One of the things that Bunny does that infuriates me is picking up on and displaying a behavior that I had, quite literally, just finished admonishing to JD. Let's say he giggled out, "What's pee-pee?" I will ask him, "Is it okay to use potty words?" "No." In the same rhythm, Bunny will say, "What's pee-pee?" giggling all the way. That is when I see red and have to consciously use all of my energy and parenting tools to remain calm or remove myself from the room. Or I will fail to put up the proper road blocks and yell at her.

JD occasionally displays this behavior, but Bunny, being three-years-old, has a knack for it.

The misuse of private parts and potty words has been going on for a month more more with little success in stopping it. The only thing I have failed to do is establish a star chart. And I know it would help. A lot. Instead of acting on that, I am writing about failing to take that action. I digress. I have talked to them endlessly about this.

Oh, I forgot to mention the couple of times Bunny has exposed herself to other kids. Once via Facetime to a five-year-old friend who moved to Baltimore. Another time to two sons of good friends of ours who are five- and four-years-old. On those occasions she did not get patient Daddy.

Behaviors like this are ones that Wife and I feared being on the receiving end. Instead, it is our family who is causing the problem. Fortunately, it does not appear that they are bringing these behaviors to school. On the flip side, I fear the consequences.

To the star chart. Deciding how to positively reward and, even more challenging, a negative consequence has proven challenging. I don't like the idea of giving the child a toy as a reward. Good behavior is something that doesn't produce material benefits. Perhaps something more like a bowling or movie outing. And for the negative consequence? No treats for a week? Taking away TV is really hard because they only get TV on the weekends and it would be really hard to allow one to get TV and not the other. Perhaps, the child who doesn't get TV has to spend that time in their room. Not sure if that would create sibling-to-sibling problems.

Any ideas about any of this?


  1. I'm liking your blog, DD. I think I can even name the person responsible for encouraging your dirty sense of humor. Could it have been an old lady you called "Meemaw"?

    I admire your thoughtfulness regarding parenting and I have two general suggestions:

    1. The Golden Rule - Stress it, live it!

    2. Always treat your child as if he already is the person you hope he'll become.

    Love you. Keep writing.

  2. I'm much too lazy to do a star chart, and I think that for my kids, it would cause obsessions over getting the stars instead of behaving appropriately, if that makes sense.

    If it was my kids, I might try taking toys away as a consequence--every time. For JD that could be his "guys"--he'll feel the loss, but he'll still have plenty to play with. For Bunny, maybe stuffed animals? When they restrain themselves or stop themselves mid-misbehavior, they can earn their toys back.

  3. I haven't had that issue yet with my kids (3.5 & 1.5) but we did have a problem with hitting/pulling hair/pushing. Hitting, etc. is an immediate time out no matter what they were doing. It has really helped cut down on the incidents. Not sure how well it will work with the potty humor but might be worth a shot.

  4. Katy, I have been much too lazy to make a star chart, so shame on me and another mark on the chalkboard of good intentions.

    Running, we generally send-to-room to for the child's protection. In general, there has never been a consequence that has adjusted long-term behavior. At some point, our kids have decided that they will do what they want to do, just as we do as adults. By continuing to talk to them about appropriate behavior, their behavior changes over the long run and is reflected in their behavior when beyond our supervision.