Bad Dad: Making No. 2 a No. 1 priority

I feel like I've been sitting here forever.

It's only been 10 minutes since I was last in here, and it's getting a bit frustrating. My neck, back and rear is getting sore from sitting hunched over in the same position for a long time. The light is bearing down on me, and I'm starting to sweat.

But I can't show any weakness, because then I'll be in here longer. I dig deep to gather my strength and push through my discomfort. I force a smile as I stare down at a pair of dark brown eyes and ask the same question for the 50th time, and the response is still the same.

"Did you go to the bathroom yet?"


Ah, the joys of potty training. This sure wasn't in the brochure.

I'm not one to be particularly envious of others, because I'm grateful for everything that I have. But I have friends who have kids who are past this stage. Friends with kids who already know how to ride a bike. Friends whose kids are starting college. Friends with kids who are getting married.

I find myself daydreaming as my son and I play out this battle of wills in the bathroom.

I'm standing inside Staples Center at X Games 30. My son is standing on the top of the vert ramp, then drops in. After a series of 180s and 360s, he starts in on his aerial program. He mixes up front flips, back flips with assorted tailwhips and flares, much to the delight of the assembled throngs of fans. He then flies overhead and performs the rare reverse barrel roll one-fingered seat grab.

He nails the landing and finishes his run to raucous applause, becoming the youngest competitor to land the trick flawlessly in competition, and earning his fifth gold medal at the X Games. I pump my fist in victory as he looks my way, smiling widely.

Much like he's smiling at me right now.

"Did you go potty yet?"


I'm sitting with my beloved wife in the bleachers of a nameless college, watching as my son is walking across the field to the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance." Across the field, I see the jerseys that were retired in his honor in football, baseball and hockey.

I see him slap the hands of his buddies and girl friends as he heads to the podium. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention he was valedictorian? After his speech, the entire stadium erupts in applause as he raises his arms in victory, prompting his classmates to throw their mortarboards to the sky. His eyes are squinting, searching for his parents in the audience.

Much like he's squinting at me right now.

"How about now? Did you go?"


I am standing in front of hundreds of people at the cavernous Crystal Cathedral alongside my son, who has asked me to be his best man. Sensing a little nervousness, I slap his back in reassurance. He glances back and smirks assuredly, as if to say "I got this." The organ swells, as his lovely bride starts down the aisle.

Fast forward to the reception, I'm killing it with the Best Man speech. People are laughing and crying simultaneously as I wrap it up. My son walks over and gives me a huge bear hug, lifting me off the ground. I spend the rest of the reception with my eyes welling with emotion, thinking back to the long, winding path that we have both endured to get to this point. I rub my eyes in exhaustion when I realize just how long a road it has been.

Much like I'm rubbing my eyes right now.

"How about now, buddy? Did you go potty?"

"No, Daddy. Can I go play?"

Rubbing my head, I resign myself this battle is far from over.

"Go ahead, but be sure to tell me when you have to go, OK?"

"OK, Daddy."

It's been a struggle to try and keep my frustration in check as we try to get our youngest out of diapers. I've tried everything, from bribery ("I'll give you a dollar if you go right now.") to ridicule ("You aren't a big boy, you are a baby. Babies wear baby diapers.") to reason ("Look son, don't you know how much this diaper cost us?") The end result has been mostly blank stares and long sessions in the bathroom.

Turns out the average boy in the United States is fully potty trained by 38 months. He turns 3 in August, so we are in for the long haul this summer.

Ten minutes later, he comes to me with a full diaper and a sheepish smile.

Here we go again.

MATT MURRAY is a designer-copy editor at the Daily Pilot, as well as an established blogger-videographer-podcaster. Pile on him at

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