We were churning them out like potato chips. And like potato chips, they didn’t listen to us.
The oldest was pretty self-sufficient. She was an excellent reader. She played piano and she got pretty good at The Entertainer, practicing it exactly 50 times. She was elected computer specialist for her fourth grade class, because when someone had a problem she could tell them to reboot. She would get herself dressed and even clean her room. She wasn’t perfect, she would pick her nose and eat it (she was like I was), and she would fight with her sister, but she was good with dip.
Her sister was distractable (she was like I was). We had to yell at her to make her bed, get ready for school, take a bath, brush her teeth, do her homework, and run to first base. She would fight with her older sister, and then we would yell at them both, and take away their Nintendo DSis. She also played piano. She liked softball and dance and gymnastics and karate and Spanish and swimming and tennis and baking cookies, but it was hard to make her focus. She had a lot of enthusiasm, we called her our little pringle, but when she got mad she would whine. Even her brother would hold his ears and say that it was giving him a headache.
Which brings us to “chip”, we called him chip, for “chip off the old block” (he was like I was). He could charm you with a smile, and he liked to break things. He didn’t talk much, but he would put his hands on everything until he figured out how to break it.
Until he got off diapers he was coming along just fine. But by the time he was four he was still having pooping issues. Everyone said he would get over it, “you never hear of adults having pooping issues,” they said.
We got so mad when he had accidents that he started to hold it and then no one could get him to poop, except his grandma, all she had to do was ask. But it was a long way to Minnesota. In retrospect, we probably could have gotten there as much time as there was sometimes between poops.
He held them for so long that when they finally arrived, you couldn’t believe how much came out of such a little boy. They would leave an emaciated little boy in their wakes. They were bigger than he was.
Then one day we had to take him into a gas station bathroom after he had been successfully holding his poop for weeks. He sat on a sticky toilet, and was, finally, quite brave. We held our noses and sweated together as he struggled to move this monstrosity. We encouraged him to push, as if he was giving birth, told him to let his poop go swimming and that he had to make the choice to poop. We tried everthing we could think of, even pressed the poop button, a little below mid back and slightly to the left of the spine, and chanted “be the poop!” (but we didn’t mean it).
In his strained little voice we heard him say, “I’m pooping.” But this one was so big that when he was done pooping it out, he was gone. And that was the end of potato chip number three. Well, we figured we could make more.