Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Visit from the Diaper Fairy

Something in the house smelled funny.

“Don’t you smell that?” my wife said. She puts everything in the form of a question, a method of communication I still haven’t mastered. ‘Don’t you smell that’ could mean anything from ‘there’s a dead opossum under the sofa’ to ‘You haven’t had a bath in three days.’ Our conversations involving topics more complex than Larry the Cable Guy movies get a little confusing.

And, yes, I smelled it. Unless a commercial pig farm moved in next door, the two-year-old messed his pants … again.

“Is that why he’s hiding?” I asked.

Our son is on the upper end of two. He’s mastered all the things kids his age are supposed to master, like colors, stacking, and screaming “no, my toys” whenever he remembers his little sister exists.

The one thing he won’t do is sit on the potty. And, unless there’s some unknown condition that causes two-year-olds to mistake toilets for slathering-mouthed tigers, he’s just being stubborn.

There are pivotal points in a person’s life. Graduation, landing that first real job, getting married. Not being potty trained might really set those back.

Date No. 1: I had a really great time tonight. We should … hey, why are my shoes wet?

The Boy: Uh, yeah, that was me.

I won’t even mention what might happen if the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes people knock on his door.

In this new, kinder age of parenting where toddlers call the Division of Family Services if they don’t get a pudding cup with lunch, it’s a lot harder to get your child to do something than when I was a kid. Back in those dim, dark years, I’m sure Mom’s potty training method included an iron maiden.

You know, she says I potty trained early.

My wife’s sister-in-law bribed her kids; a couple of M&Ms usually carry a lot of weight with a two-year-old. We tried that. Telling him Superman wears underwear? We tried that, too. He just doesn’t care

“Did you know that tomorrow you’re going to be three,” my wife said to him one afternoon. “So tonight the Diaper Fairy is going to come and take all your diapers away.”

The Diaper Fairy?

“And she’s going to leave brand new big boy underpants.”

Whoa, the Diaper Fairy was a new one on me. But, for some reason, the Boy was listening.

Unlike dads who yell in one-word sentences, moms have an eerie ability to calmly get children to do what they want. Maybe a little supernatural intervention was all he needed.

The next morning he woke to find underwear sitting where we used to keep his diapers. He seemed impressed. Maybe, just maybe, this Diaper Fairy ruse would work.

Day Four: nope. I just hope the Boy’s future wife is patient.

Copyright 2007 by Jason Offutt

Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to the Show-Me State’s Most Spirited Spots,” is available now. Order it from, or Visit Jason’s Web site,, for his other books.