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Sensible Solutions

Freda Isaksen

“Sugar and spice and everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of.”

When our little girl grandchild arrived after a generation of boys in the family there was something special to look forward to with her. As soon as she was born I sent a note to her mother along with a bouquet of pink flowers and wrote, “I’m thinking pink already.”

As time elapsed this little girl lived up to my wishes for femininity, she was all girl from the start and I encouraged her to dance and prance and admire herself in the mirror. I gave colorful dresses with frills and bows, ribbons for her hair. I loved it after the years of masculinity with three sons.

But, oh dear, I did not like that tell-tale bulge at her rear end, which indicated that she was still not toilet-trained in spite of her dainty ways. But a grandma must keep silent because to criticize will embarrass the mother, not the child.

But one day I could not help myself. “Why is Sharon still wearing diapers?” I asked. It was of course the mother who tearfully replied, “I’ve tried everything from bribes to ridicule to praise, nothing works.”

Experience with little girls I did not have because my offspring were all male but looking at this very feminine child with her curls and dainty dresses and her pretty baby dolls I had an idea that could hopefully help to solve the problem. I purchased some little panties decorated with tiny colored flowers and white lace and showed them to her. She grabbed them and loved them immediately and wanted to wear them at once. “These will never fit over a diaper,” I said. “I will keep them, and just as soon as you can use the toilet, these are yours.” She was toilet-trained in a few days.


A child born in California only knows about trains from picture books, the automobile is the way to go places. But grandma and grandpa remember how interesting and relaxing train travel can be and the sense of nostalgia urges them to take the grandchildren on a train ride, just for fun.

We had two grandchildren, a boy and a girl, living in this city and when we suggested a day’s adventure on a train they were all excited as grandpa explained about the choo-choo and imitated the tooting of the whistle as he remembered it, but we knew the modern electric vehicle would be quite different. There would be no puffing steam and no loud noise of the puffing of the engine or the engineer visibly guiding the huge monster into the station whilst its arrival was loudly heard. Nevertheless it would be an exciting day for everyone.

To our disappointment we were told that three-year-old Daniel could not go with us. Why not? His mother explained that he was being toilet-trained. “He is making good progress,” she said, “but even one day transgression will spoil all my efforts.” We had planned this trip with such joy and did not want postponement and disappointment so after a great deal of pleading his mother decided on a solution.

The parents and the two children met us at Union Station train depot. The mother carried a potty concealed inconspicuously in a paper wrapping. In the station she took her son into a corner and placed him on the potty where he did his duty. Then grandma and grandpa rode with the children on the train whilst the mother and father drove their car to our destination. After two hours they met us with a clean potty and again the boy did his duty in a corner of the train station. The boy stayed dry and clean. Then the family all drove home together in the car.


Copyright Freda Isaksen 1986–2006. Permission to reuse for non-commercial purposes is granted, provided that the text is unaltered and the original source is acknowledged. For more information, contact isaksen at math.wayne.edu.

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