It’s okay. Accidents happen.

“Fool me one time, shame on you. Fool me twice, can’t put the blame on you.”

Potty Training is, in my opinion, the most intense and accomplishing thing in a child’s life. Forget your first steps or the first time you said “mommy” — ditching your Huggies for a TOILET? Pure bliss. It’s like, “Hey guess what guys? I just got the new PlayStation!” “Oh yeah? Well I just learned how to drop a deuce in the toilet!” It’s monumental. Think about it; not only are you ecstatic, but your parents are relieved since they don’t need to keep dealing with your smelly diapers. It’s truly a win-win.

Gotta love kids, right?

If you know me personally, you know I have been teaching little kids tennis for several years now. I always have the most fascinating stories because as the saying goes —kids say the darnedest thing! My kids are always full of energy and pretty unpredictable. It makes me miss the good ole’ days of no homework and nap time (although, I am still an avid napper). A lot can happen in a two-hour tennis lesson. The kids are ready to let off some steam after a long, hard day of kindergarten. After all, learning how to color inside the lines can be tough. What’s a downside of my job, you ask? The perils of potty training.

The start of something...new

I used to teach this sweet 7 year old boy. Let’s go ahead and call him Timmy. I taught Timmy for a couple months last winter. He was a very gifted student, but after a few weeks, I started to notice something strange. One day, we were on our way for a water break, and I saw Timmy sitting on a bench with the rest of my class. Suddenly, he stands up, and something catches my eye. I stare at it for a good fifteen seconds. No, it can’t be…let me get a little closer…crap. I spy with my little eye: a wet spot the size of an olympic-size pool.

“It’s water break… kids spill all the time. It’s not a big deal, right? Maybe I should just ask him. Well, it looks like it’s drying already. Yeah, it’s definitely just water.”

The following week, we are in the middle of practicing serves when Timmy screams so loud that the parents watching from the second floor window can hear.

“MS. PHOEBE, I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM RIGHT NOW!”

Since I cannot leave the rest of the students alone, I line up all of my students as fast as possible. I look up and see Timmy doing that pre-bathroom dance; you know, the one where you shuffle side-to-side. Luckily, the bathroom is close by, so we would be able to make it before Timmy explodes. I spoke too soon. As soon as he walks out of the bathroom, I see it. The wet spot appears for the second week in a row. There are so many thoughts running through my mind at this point. I officially have a seven-year-old on my court with a bladder issue.

“Should I ask if he has an extra pair of pants? Do I call his mom? Do I ask him if he had an accident? Phoebe, oh my goodness, stop laughing….he’s staring at you right now. Okay, no, but seriously, there is still an hour left in class. Jeez am I seriously sweating a little? Why am I so nervous? He is seven. Okay, focus. Just pull the kid aside and talk to him about it.”

“Timmy, can you come here real quick? Hey buddy, I noticed that you might have had a little accident in there. Is everything okay?”
*blank stare*
“Well, if you ever have an accident, let me know so we can get you all cleaned up, okay?”
*blank stare*
“Ms. Phoebe, is it snack time yet?”

The last straw.

Alright! It’s a new week! Nothing can possibly go wrong this time! Timmy isn’t even here this week! Oh. Never mind, he’s just 10 minutes late; just my luck. Honestly, I’m getting a little nervous, but my mind is finally at peace when we make it halfway through class without any accidents. Here is some advice: if something seems too good to be true, you’re probably right.

After snack break, things seemed to be going all too well. Everyone is enjoying the last hour of class and trying to convince me to play every game in the world. Then I hear it.

“Ms. Phoebe? Uhhh.. can we have a bathroom break, please? Right now!”

There it was. I knew it was bound to happen. I lined everyone up in ten seconds. At this point, all of my students know that this poor kid is about to explode like a geyser again. Then, I hear someone faintly say, “Uh-oh.” I turn around with absolute fear in my eyes. Holy sh*t. A puddle big enough to see your reflection. Timmy peed himself….again. He looks up at me with his big brown eyes that are practically screaming, “I’m so sorry, dude.” All the kids are staring at him. I’m staring at him. Time freezes.

“What the hell am I supposed to do? Why me? Can I please just quit right now? Are those parents watching through the window? Do they hate me because I don’t know how to act fast when a kid pees himself? FOCUS”

We are all running towards the bathroom. I don’t know what to do with all of my students. I needed to go clean up the puddle from the court before it becomes a stain to remember. Have you ever tried cleaning pee off a hard surface tennis court? Yeah, it’s not easy. I run towards the laundry room as if I’m running through an ER, in desperate pursuit of towels. Great — it’s laundry hour. I couldn’t find a single towel. I run to the bathroom and grab an entire roll of paper towels. I have no clue where my students are and honestly, I didn’t care. I get back to the court and start cleaning it. I look up and there were parents LAUGHING at me. Wait, I’m sorry moms, did you want to take over for me? Please, STOP!

All my kids came back and began to stare at the damp spot on the court. We all pretended like it didn’t happen for the rest of the day, even though Timmy’s pants looked like he had just jumped into a pool. As the year went on, Timmy only wet himself one more time. We were all so proud. I know what you all are thinking. “Phoebe, why did you never tell his parents?” Well, he was in aftercare every single week, so I never even had the opportunity to meet them. “Did you ever call the parents?” Twice. No answer.

I’m just so confused. Why is this kid seven and not potty trained? That is seriously not normal. The sad part is, Timmy isn’t the only one I have taught that couldn’t control themselves. I’ve had several leaky children. I even had a kid who pooped his pants this summer, but that’s a story for another time. I sent out a twitter poll asking when people were potty trained. Fourty-five people voted. Wanna know how many said they were potty trained after five-years-old? One. Not normal. Not good. Now, there is a sizable chance that this poor child has some type of a bladder issue. I promise you, I am not disregarding the issue. It is a real problem that millions of children face today. However, as a parent, it is your responsibility to get help for your child. If that means making your kid wear a diaper or monitoring their bathroom breaks, you should try to make it happen. If you cannot do that, at least notify the adults that are taking care of you children of any conditions they may have. It’s not fair for your child or the person apprehensively cleaning up after them (*me*).


To close, I would like to say a few words. To all you moms out there, please, for the love of God, POTTY TRAIN YOUR CHILD. I’m just a teenager trying to teach tennis. I promise you, I do not want to clean up your child’s accidents. I do not get paid nearly enough to do that. To all my peers, please, make sure you potty train your future kid. You will save them from sheer embarrassment. Lastly, to Timmy, good luck.

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