The Last Graduate

I took a painting class one time.  I have no idea why.  Stupid I guess.  I suppose I watched one too many episodes of that guy that was on PBS on Saturday mornings, the guy with the huge afro, Bob Ross.  He made it look so very easy as he talked you through it in his quiet golf commentator voice.  In spite of the fact that Bob could create a masterpiece in minutes, I, on the other hand, was a complete failure at it.  My mother’s bias in favor of her son is quite apparent, as she still has a couple of my “masterpieces” prominently displayed in her basement.  Let’s face it—painting was not my thing.

While finding your strengths in life is very important for success, realizing your weaknesses is of utmost importance as well, perhaps even more so.  Take potty training for instance.  You would think that after having gone through as many diapers as we have over the years, with our nine children, that somewhere along the way I would have gotten better at potty training.  Not so.  I always did quite well with removing diapers and large loads of fecal matter (using a generous number of wet wipes I might add), but I never quite developed a knack in the area of potty training.

The Great Encourager, better known as my wife Katrina, is the champion of potty training.  While I seem to have trouble getting frustrated with the children when they have constant accidents, Katrina just deals with it, goes on her merry way, and cheers and claps with them during their little victories on the potty seat.  Perhaps I could get better at it, but letting the champion do her work is easier, so I just get out of the way and let her do the dirty work, and cheer when I’m told to.

We are, in fact, in the peak of potty training season at our house, with our last graduate heading down the aisle to receive her diploma.  We’re not quite there yet, but soon the day will arrive when diapers are not required.

A few days ago Katrina struck out with her brood of chicks under her wing to brave the aisles of Wal-Mart.  Although all of the children are blessed with two legs, they always seem to want to ride in the cart at the store, so Katrina loaded Olivia in the front and Hannah, Holly, and Joshua loaded themselves in the large portion of the cart where groceries are supposed to go.  The cart was quite a boatload as Katrina pushed them around with Bradley walking along beside her.

After a thorough visit browsing through the back-to-school supplies loading up on discounted notebooks, the tour bus veered over to the greeting card aisle where they spent some time picking out a couple of cards.  Olivia then decided that sitting in the front of the cart did not seem as fun as sitting with her siblings, so she and Holly switched places, landing Holly in the front and Olivia in the bottom with Hannah and Joshua.

With hair-care supplies being in short supply at home, they moseyed over to the shampoo aisle and sought out what was needed to keep hair in clean and optimum condition.  After making a few selections and placing them in the cart, the sound of a small flood began to gush to the floor.  Without any warning whatsoever, Olivia felt that it was time to relieve herself of the contents of her bladder.  Holly was on dry land in the top of the cart, and Hannah and Joshua rose to their feet immediately to avoid a drenching as Katrina rescued the greeting cards and stack of fifteen cent bargain notebooks.

As the flood ended, quick thinking was of the utmost importance.  They needed to find a bathroom, and fast.  Naturally, the bathroom was all the way across the store.  Katrina decided that they needed to get some paper towels to clean up the mess, and Bradley grabbed a spare shopping cart at the end of the aisle to park over the spill until they could return in a moment.

They scurried across the store as fast as possible and arrived at the family bathroom.  Katrina got Olivia cleaned up and dried off and began gathering some paper towels to head back over to the spill area.  But then came another moisture delay.

There’s something about getting a dog near a fire hydrant.  Once that trigger in its mind goes off, it just has to let loose.  At this lovely public bathroom, only five quick minutes from the comfort of our home, all four of the other children immediately had the urge to go, and did they ever.  Katrina’s necessity for being in a big hurry was likely the reason that the kids took FOREVER.  When their kidneys were all successfully diminished, they made their way across the store to complete their cleanup job.

Upon their late arrival to the shampoo aisle, due to their extended pit stop, they discovered that they were busted.  Standing in the aisle with a mop bucket were the spill police—a fellow in charge of the mop and a small portly woman, assessing the damage.  As Katrina and the children approached them, Katrina with her load of paper towels in hand said, “Oh, don’t worry.  I’ll clean it up.”

The woman, with a disgusted look on her face as she looked at the moisture, said “Well, we thought it was urine.”

Katrina, standing with all of the kids looking at the pair intently, said “Well, my little girl is potty training, and she just didn’t make it, but I’ll clean it up.  I’m very sorry.”

The kind man with gloved hands injected himself into the conversation at this point and said, “No, I can do it.  This kind of stuff happens all the time.  I’m used to it.  You’d be surprised at what I clean up around here.”

With paper towels in hand, Katrina ignored his insistence and commenced to soaking up the mess.  After getting most of it up, she put the moist paper towels in his trash can, and then the nice man used his mop to complete the job.  After the cleanup was complete Katrina and the kids, ready to exit this embarrassing situation, paid for their stuff and headed home.

Since the day of the flood, little miss Olivia is still doing quite well, getting better every day.  Soon the commencement will begin for our “last graduate” of Katrina’s potty training school.

Grandkids may come, but until then, we’ll soon be…free at last!

“To everything there is a season.  A time for every purpose under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Written by David Steen, with God smiling, July 11, 2010.

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2 Responses to The Last Graduate

  1. Faye Steen says:

    David,
    Good story, as always. But as you said, my opinions are biased. I also thought you had potential as an artist; you just didn’t stay with it long enough. Love, Mom

  2. You're first born says:

    Once again, epic!!

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