“I. DON’T. WANT. TO. GO!”
My three-year-old was pissed.
He hadn’t peed all morning, though, so I knew it was in there. We had a long drive to make that morning, and there were two options. He would either empty his bladder here in the toilet, “like a Big Boy,” I told him.
Or, strapped-in and a little too comfortable, he’d “open the gate” and unleash a flood of urine into his Spiderman undies, his pants, and the nether regions of the car seat for me to clean late at night like so many crumbs and vomit drippings that came before it.
So, I forced the bathroom door shut, took a seat on the floor inside, and waited for him to attack.
He stomped and clawed, pulling with all his weight at the doorknob. I braced my leg against the wall, closed my eyes, and tried to quiet my mind. But instead, all I could think about was Koe Wetzel.
His most infamous song is about having to take a leak before heading to Taco Bell, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised. But a more perfect anthem for potty-training an obstinate toddler popped into my head in my time of need: “Crying From the Bathroom.”
“You called me crying from the bathroom
He must be running around again
It doesn’t seem very like you
To be wasting all your time on a bi*tch like him…”
I’d never call my son a “b*tch.” But I was wasting a lot of time on the bathroom floor, waiting for him to stop running around and pummeling me with mini-haymakers. It wasn’t very like me, an organized, punctual person, to accept the inefficiency of a 35-minute pre-road trip pee. It was hard not to get angry.
Koe starts the song a little angry, too. From his 2020 album, “Sellout,” “Crying From the Bathroom” tells the story of an ex-girlfriend who keeps calling for comfort in the midst of her new, broken relationship. He’s heard this story before, and he’s tired of it.
As the song goes on, though, anger and defiance turn into pain. When the protagonist asks his ex and her friends to stop calling, he pleads from a place of despair.
The song crescendos with some forlorn self-talk as he tries to convince himself that he’s fine when, in truth, he’s far from it:
“And I’m ok
And I’ve moved on
And I’m ok
And I’ve moved on…”
The bathroom floor with a screaming toddler and a clock ticking minute-by-minute toward and past my appointment was a hopeless place to be. If only my son would listen to me, life would be better. He’d be potty-trained, we’d be on the road, and he could avoid the helpless feelings of fear and weakness brought on by his emotions. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have to feel so pissed off about being late.
I closed my eyes again and tried whistling the opening melody myself. It only made my son angrier. “No! I don’t LIKE THAT! Stop DOING THAT!” he yelled.
“You’re ok,” I whispered to him.
I took a deep breath and tried to enter Bathroom Floor Zen again. “Embrace the suck… just ride it out,” I told myself. “Eventually, we’ll move on…”
Suddenly, I realized my son had stopped crying. He climbed the step stool, dropped his pants, and away went a torrent of urine into its proper home. Maybe the car seat would stay dry that day. Maybe he’d finish, wash his hands, and we’d be on our way. Maybe today, for the first time in months, we’d be on-time.
He wiped away his tears, looked up at me with big, glistening brown eyes, and said, “Daddy, I have to go poo-poo too.”
Life is full of storms no matter how old you are. Whether you’re recovering from a bad break-up, learning to pee in the toilet, or trying not to lose your shit while potty-training an obstinate toddler, we all deal with uncomfortable emotions.
And sometimes, that first step to moving on with your life is to accept those emotions and wait, knowing they’ll pass with time. Taking deep breaths and whistling some sad, relatable, Koe Wetzel tunes can help too.
And that’s what I hope I can teach my son about dealing with his nonsensical, but very real, emotions while we’re sitting here on the floor, crying from the bathroom.