A week ago Zoe started having accidents at school again. We yelled, argued, wheedled, withheld treats, threatened punishments, and still she came home damp. We reminded her about peeing in the potty, and she steadfastly said, NO, I prefer to go in my pants.
That’s how she talks.
WHY? I asked, incredulously. Are you still afraid of the automatic flush?
No, she said, I am scared of the octopus.
We had to do a lot of digging to get to the bottom of that answer. We had seen Finding Nemo in the theater the week before, and a major plot point is that ALL DRAINS LEAD TO THE OCEAN. The captive fish were praying to be flushed through the drains to end up back in the open water. Turns out that Zoe thought that the toilet was a two-way street and was terrified that she’d meet an octopus or a huge shark when she went to the potty.
Well, we explained and explained about water filtration plants, and one-way drains, and Indiana’s discouragingly great distance from the sea, and I hope we were convincing enough. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, we went to a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, and since Zoe’s regular doctor was out we saw another pediatrician instead. As the nurse checked us in and weighed Zoe and talked with her, my little girl was a delightful, cheerful chatterbox. The moment the doctor walked in she panicked. Clung tight to my neck and buried her head. Cried. Said, out loud, I don’t want this doctor. I want a lady doctor. I want to go home.
We were mortified, of course, and shocked as well, because Zoe is fantastic with people. I’ve never seen this kind of reaction from her, ever. She was tense and tight and clingy throughout the exam, and wouldn’t cooperate and wouldn’t talk to him, and sniffled and sobbed the whole time. I actually liked him and his bedside manner quite a lot, but she was having none of it.
I couldn’t get a straight response from her for hours afterward, but eventually, this evening, she confessed that she thought he was turning into a robot.
She’d seen the high-tech hearing aids he was wearing, and his perfectly bald head, and instantly concluded that he was a cyberman, like in Doctor Who. From that moment on she knew he was coming to get her, so of course she wasn’t willing to relax and let herself be touched by the evil robot. Would you?
It’s moments like these that remind me just how far from mature Three and a Half really is. Just a few years ago she couldn’t even turn over, and had no communication skills. She’s come so far and so fast, and is such a completely interactive little person, that I can forget how many things about the world she just has to take on faith. TV is no less real than home – it’s IN our home, after all, and why should she know the difference between a Cyberman and Santa Claus? Why is one more real than another? Sesame Street teaches her that C is for Cookie, and Gill says that all drains lead to the ocean. How should she know?
It is so hard to be three.