“Did you know that your son is out peeing in the parking lot?”
Great. I was in the school building talking to my Little Flowers Girls’ Club about manners and decorum, and my four-year-old son was outside watering the parking lot.
Oh, the joys of boys! Their bodies, and the things they can do with them, are an endless source of fascination. But I’ve found that the potty training years provide a window of opportunity: the opportunity to teach them that they can become the masters of their physical impulses.
Most people would agree that, while somewhat amusing, it’s really not appropriate for my son to relieve himself in a school parking lot. There is a time and a place for that–like behind the closed door of the bathroom inside the building right next to you!
Any parent who has experienced potty training knows how much self-discipline it requires. It’s difficult. It’s messy. It involves tears and frustration. But then, one day…he does it! Body and mind click, and he makes it to the bathroom time and time again. There are smiles. There is rejoicing. There is freedom. Freedom from diapers, messes, and clothing changes. Freedom from embarrassment and discouragement. Freedom through self-mastery.
“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” —Saint John Paul II
And so it is with all of our bodily functions and impulses. As I explained to my little son, our body talks to us. It speaks a language by what we feel and what we do. And while what we feel determines what we do, it’s what we think that determines how we do it.
If you feel hungry, you think about whether you should have a healthy snack or wait until meal time. If you feel like you need to go potty, you think about where the nearest bathroom is and when you should start heading there. If you feel so angry you could hit someone, you think about ways to relieve your emotions in a less hurtful way.
These are all impulses that most people have managed to harness. These are all impulses that most people think are important to harness; otherwise restaurants, rest stops, and law enforcement wouldn’t exist.
And yet, somewhere along the way, the most glorious body language of all has been lost to licentiousness. Somewhere along the way, the language of love and life has been severed from its proper time and place. It has been moved from behind the closed door of Holy Matrimony and released into the broad daylight of the parking lot–given to anyone who simply makes us feel a certain way. The marital embrace walks the fine line between shameful and sanctioned, but is never quite sanctified.
The language of sex is a gift to be embraced, but it is only meant to be spoken to the one who can truly hear and appreciate it. And once we have shared in this conversation with our spouse, we can proclaim our joy by the fruitfulness of our children, the total faithfulness of our marriage, and the freedom of spirit that accompanies obedience to God’s law.
This is the Truth I hope to start conveying to my children through the milestone of potty training. Self-mastery over the language of our bodies isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
Copyright 2015 Charisse Tierney
Image via Pixabay, Sign Bathroom Restroom Symbol Icon People, CCO Public Domain