October 6, 1959
Topeka Daily Capital
Thinking it over, I guess that one of the bigger developments of the year, along with the beginning of the era of personal diplomacy, summit meetings and the steel strike, is Amy’s learning to go to the bathroom.
In listing major events of the year, the feeling here is that their importance should be measured in terms of how they affect people. Well, in my little corner of the world, Amy’s ascent to this level of refinement created more excitement by far than Khrushchev’s visit.
I’m not really sure how the other three made this advance. All I know is that one day they wouldn’t go, the next few days they might and they might not go, and suddenly they went. One at a time, of course.
Their mother guided each of the other three through these perilous – and often disastrous – times, and I was barely more than a casual observer. But in the case of Amy, it became a family project and seldom have I seen a group so engrossed.
As the coaches would say, the education of Amy was a team effort.
One thing wrong, I guess, was that the training chair had disappeared when Amy’s time came. I don’t know what happened to the chair part, but I recall that I mixed paint in the business end of it long ago.
Amy’s ordeal started one day when her mother set her on the family-size model. Amy grabbed both sides of the thing and terror filled her eyes. If this was a game, it wasn’t a good one. It never occurred to her to try to do anything except try to keep from falling in.
These early attempts ended in total flops. Amy would balance herself there precariously, threatening any minute to take the plunge, and looking bewildered over a ritual she considered totally meaningless.
I got into the act. I’d heard that running water often inspires the reluctant. I doubled the water bill and flooded the sink once, but she just rocked there on the precipice of disaster and looked at me like I was nuts.
I even flushed the thing once, but the water splashed up and got her from the bottom side and the look she gave me said clearly that if this was a game it’s gone too far.
The other three joined the project. We’d gather round her perch an offer vocal encouragement. Nice Amy. Big girl. Water running. Pats on the head. Daddy’s girl. And the look on Amy’s face said if you really like me you’ll get me down off this thing.
We always inspired her to do what we wanted done, but she always did it after we got her down. Maybe we scared her into it. Anyway, she’d wander off to some part of the house and – WHOOSH! One of the boys would come in and report:
“Well she did it again. All over my checkers, too.”
Amy would say, “Uh-oh” and point to the spot. She’d look defiant, too , like saying after what I’ve been through around here lately you shouldn’t get sore about a little thing like this.
One day, many failures and many misplaced puddles later, it happened. We were all there, cheering her on over the noise of running water and patting her and telling her if she did this just once she could have anything. And she did it.
“She did it!” screamed the other three, and I’ll tell you it was one of the happiest times the house ever saw. But it almost ended in tragedy. Amy was so excited she let go her hold to clap her hands and she almost went out of sight.
Her achievement has only one drawback. Her first successful effort was greeted with so much applause and affection that she now won’t go until she first draws a crowd. I suppose she’ll outgrow this.