This weekend we put up or Christmas tree, which kicked off the annual search for the Christmas ornament boxes. It was hard not to notice that our basement had accumulated so much junk it was starting to look like an overpopulated Third World country. I swear there could be a whole colony of new life forms living down there, and I’d never know it.
As I meandered around the endless debris of mysterious, unmarked cardboard boxes, Halloween costumes, and Thomas the Tank Engine train tables (with infinite wooden track), I couldn’t help but wonder, where the heck did all this stuff come from, and what happened to the days when I could fit everything I owned into the back of a 1975 VW Rabbit?
Finding the Christmas boxes took patience, which I ran out of back in 2004, so I called in my 13-year-old son, to rummage around for any containers that when shaken sounded like either A) a jingle bell, or B) broken glass, in which case I think I might have finally found my missing wedding crystal. (I banished that impractical glassware shortly after we were married, because honestly, why would you let your tipsy guests drink out of fine crystal goblets when cheap wine glasses from World Market are so much easier to replace?)
As my son foraged through boxes of junk I did not recognize (a menorah? What the hell? We’re not even Jewish!) I found a suitcase full of kid music videos on VHS tapes. Some of them I recalled, but most were as lost from memory as Cheerios in the couch cushions. (I’m guessing this was my brain’s way of fighting back the monotony of hearing those same songs over and over. I choose to believe that over middle-aged memory loss.)
A Blast from the Past
But one tape in particular caught my eye. And as soon as I saw it a song instantly sprang to mind. The video was It’s Potty Time, and the song was “He’s a Super Duper Pooper.” And just like a nasty virus you can’t shake, I went around the house the rest of the day with this touching lyric replaying in my head: “He’s a super duper pooper. He can potty with the best. No more diapers to get in the way, he can manage the rest.” Or something like that; I think I screwed up the last line, which makes me crazy because I can’t stand it when people butcher song lyrics. I was 35 when I finally found out that Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita” was actually “In the Garden of Eden.” Who knew? No one ever corrected me when I was 17. I was horrified to learn I’d been singing it wrong for the past 18 years. I mean, geez, what if it had come up in a job interview?
Anyway, by the time the It’s Potty Time video reentered our lives technology had moved on. This just killed me because we didn’t have a VHS player anymore, so I couldn’t play the tape to relearn the song.
I tried to let it go, but then about an hour later, ANOTHER SONG from that stupid video bubbled up in my brain. It went something like this: “Wipe, wipe, wipe yourself, always front to back…uh, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” No wait, that’s not right. (Damn, this is going to drive me nuts.)
The more those song remnants romped around in my head like preschoolers on a sugar high, the more I began to think about my own childhood. Suddenly I thought, now wait a minute, do kids today really need to learn a whole new slate of mind-numbing toilet training tunes that will only take up valuable (and increasingly limited) memory when they’re older? It was bad enough I had to endure nursery rhymes when I was little about babies falling out of treetops and some guy named Peter imprisoning his wife in a pumpkin shell. But at least I could sing those songs in mixed company when my mom paraded me around at family reunions. I mean, come on. Do you really want to be sitting in an Olive Garden when your kid busts a move with, “On top of my potty, I’m sitting to poop. Your life is much better, when your diapers don’t droop.” (Oh man, there’s another latent It’s Potty Timelyric that just invaded my head! Am I going to be able to get any sleep tonight?)
“When I’m Sixty-four” (I hope I’m not wearing diapers)
In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking. I can’t believe I had my sons learn songs about pooping. Me, the cool mom who sang Motown and Beatles’ tunes to her babies instead of that sexist Mother Goose drivel. My kids knew the words to “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5 and “When I’m Sixty-four” off the Sergeant Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band album long before the video game Rock Band was even a flicker in some computer geek’s head. And if I remember correctly (because it’s all coming back to me now), somewhere in the It’s Potty Time video there was even a male “fairy” (and I use that term loosely) playing a flute while a cute little girl was trying to make number two. Holy smokes, I’m surprised my boys weren’t constipated until they were 10!
It’s been months since the It’s Potty Time video resurfaced, and believe it or not those song fragments still occasionally take up residence in my head like an outpost of termites hell-bent on colonizing the attic. I think my brain won’t give up because it knows those lyrics are still in there somewhere between my high school boyfriend’s middle name and the chemical element symbol for lead. A friend suggested I check to see if they’re on iTunes or YouTube so I can finally resolve this and move on. Since everything ends up in cyberspace those melodies are probably out there somewhere, ready to remind anyone who stumbles upon them, “This is the way we wash our hands after we go to the pah-tee.” (Dang, there’s another one.)
Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.