In Which I Blame Dr. Phil
Potty training is hell. But Dr. Phil has it all figured out.
According to Phil, all you need to do is get an anatomically appropriate doll that wets, show it to your kid, and have your kid “teach” the doll to use the potty. Really, the stuff of genius. After a little internet research, I discovered that certain brands of dolls were recommended – and they were all a tad expensive.
While Christmas shopping at an overpriced specialty toy store, I came upon a stack of these potty dolls. Impulsively, I grabbed the boy version and paid over $50 for him. His name was Potty Paul.
As it was, my son received a boatload of holidays gifts. This was the first Christmas after the birth of his sister, and I admit to shopping excessively using my guilt purse. The potty doll ended up stashed in the closet, still in his box.
Several months later, when I realized the potty training needed a bit of a kickstart, I remembered the doll and retrieved him. Eagerly I ripped Paul from the package, along with his potty paraphenalia that included underpants, a mini potty, and a fillable bottle. He was wearing a rather bulky disposable diaper. I called my son over to show him the doll and explained that this doll was a boy just like he was, and that we needed to show him how to use the potty because he wanted to wear big boy underpants instead of his uncool diaper. My son, somewhat interested, watched as I removed Paul’s diaper.
“Where is his penis?” my two year old asked suspiciously. Where was the penis indeed. Paul wasn’t packing anything, if you know what I mean. In fact, his crotch looked like the crotch of every other doll except that it had a hole for peeing.
So I re-examined the box. Yes, this was the boy doll, complete with powder blue accents on the underpants. It said anatomically correct on the box, but of course it did not show a picture of the anatomy. A lengthy internet search confirmed that no place selling the doll was posting a picture of the dolls genitals.
I looked through the box and wrappings that the doll had come in, operating under the theory that the penis was either removable (trans-gender Paul) or just not affixed to the body that well – but there was no stray penis to be found. I began to wonder if the problem was me. Did I have a twisted idea of what anatomically correct meant? I imagined the rest of the world’s population going about their everyday lives, secure in their knowledge that anatomically correct did not actually mean a penis and balls. I wondered what the heck the girl doll looked like – or if that was what I had. Clearly someone at the doll factory was not doing his job.
I returned to the store to do some covert doll-crotch spying – but it was impossible to tell what, if anything, was lurking behind the dolls’ bulky diapers. I am sure that you can imagine how going on such a mission makes you feel like a bit of a creep.
Finally, I ended up calling the store. In a rambling, disjointed splash of words I explained that I needed to know if the boy dolls actually had penises, because ours didn’t and my son was a bit puzzled by this. The girl on the phone said yes. I then said “um, can you check for me?” She laughed nervously, clearly thinking I was either pulling a prank or setting her up for an FBI sting operation, but she agreed to check. In a few minutes she returned to the phone and told me again that yes, the dolls have penises. So I asked her to put one aside for me so that I could exchange ours – but I asked her to please check the doll set aside for us to make sure it was hung anatomically correct.
When I arrived at the store with my penis-less doll and his useless accessories, I was a little bit nervous. I handed the package to the girl behind the counter, told her my name, and explained that I was exchanging the doll for another one that had been set aside for me. Smirking, the girl nodded and directed me to the box around the corner from the check out counter. On the floor was the new Potty Paul, with a yellow sticky note on top that said to hold, my last name, and one word:
We brought the doll home, removed his clothes and were thrilled to learn that anatomically correct really meant anatomically correct – Paul had a penis and a scrotum, and he did pee. Hooray. We were so thrilled we renamed him Peter.
And Peter had zero impact on my son’s potty training. But the penis was cool.