I am the oldest child in my family. Sometimes this went to my head.
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I am also the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family. My parents, being young and inexperienced when I was born, tended to…overreact.
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That doesn’t even touch the moments of immense pride my parents had in my every accomplishment, however small. “He said ‘BA BA BA!” my dad giggled once at my grandma’s. “Isn’t he so funny?”
My aunts and uncles quickly wearied of this acute case of New Parent Syndrome. While others muttered darkly in the corner for fear of upsetting my mother, Uncle Curtis boldly decided to strike back.
A couple of months later, my parents proudly announced that their son, their pride and joy, was about to undertake a new mission, never before attempted by ANY parent, ANYWHERE, at ANYTIME: Potty Training.
Curtis bided his time, always watching, always waiting. When my parents left me unattended in Grandma’s play room downstairs, Curtis struck. He sat down next to me and whispered in my ear:
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My parents were sitting at the dinner table a few hours later with my aunts and uncles. I hopped down from my stool and wandered away to the bathroom, the praise of my parents echoing behind me. A few minutes later, with them deep in a Romantic Moment:
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Albert Einstein claimed that it was impossible for any physical object to reach the speed of light. He clearly has never seen a parent enter Endangered Child Mode. My parents nearly upended the table as the rocketed towards the bathroom, knocking pictures down and flattening my poor grandma bringing the dessert to the table.
Any number of terrible scenarios was running through my parents’ heads.
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They pounded frantically on the door, weeping with hysteria. “Open the door! Open the door!” They sobbed. “What’s the matter?!”
The door unlocked, and they tumbled into the bathroom, ready to do anything, anything to save their little boy, their flesh and blood, their very reason for existence.
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I still receive no credit for washing my hands here.

They marched angrily back to the kitchen where Curtis and the rest of the family were in imminent danger of choking on their own drool, so great was their laughter.
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Curtis had told me that it was easier to poop if you screamed as loud as you can. Technically, it worked. Not the pooping, but that wasn’t what Curtis was trying to accomplish.
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My parents gave Curtis a lot of dirty looks, and assumed that was the end of it. That wasn’t the only thing he had told me, however: he had also encouraged me to ensure that I was being properly…hygienic. “Grandma’s toilet paper doesn’t work very well, so whenever you are here you need to have your parents check.”
A week later my grandparents had the missionaries over for dinner, and let them teach a lesson afterwards. I slunk away to the bathroom. Right in the most spiritual moment, when Grandma had tears in her eyes from the missionaries’ testimony, I strode confidently into the living room with my pants around my ankles. I walked in front of everyone, turned around, and:
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The missionaries were unable to finish the lesson. Grandma began crying for a different reason. Mom and Dad bundled me into the car and we went home in shocked silence.
Mom and Dad never brought up my potty training at Grandma and Grandpa’s house again. Curtis was able to spend his Sunday afternoons in relative peace.
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The missionaries still have nightmares.

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