My mother liked to tell the story of the day she kicked me out of the house. I was two years old.
I remember none of what I’m about to tell you.
I was one of those kids who resisted toilet training. I squawked to be changed if I had a wet diaper. But sitting around in my own poo? Fabulous! I didn’t mind the warm, squishy, cushiony comfort. Maybe I even liked it. I can’t say.
My mother knew I knew how to use the toilet. She knew I knew the whole wearing-diapers business was no longer acceptable. She also knew I just didn’t care. Nope, not one bit. No amount of reasoning, cajoling, encouraging or coercion could make me do what she wanted me to do. In desperation she took a calculated risk.
She packed a tiny suitcase for me (I wonder what was in it). “If you can’t live by my rules, then you can’t live here,” she said to me as she handed me the suitcase. “Now leave.”
So I took that suitcase and I left.
I walked all the way to the end of the street. And then I stood there. The street ended at a very busy road. My mother watched from the porch, her heart hiccupping and beating double time. She said it seemed like forever as I, just a tot, stood there, clutching the suitcase, puzzling over how to navigate the traffic.
Finally I turned around and came home. I looked up at my mother and said “Okay. We’ll do it your way.”
I never wore a diaper again.
The lessons in this story are clichéd but apt:
Pick your battles. This was one battle my mother really did have to win, and I’m glad she did.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Fortune favours the brave. If I had just crossed that road, who knows where I’d be now? But seriously, my mother took a big risk and got her results.
Update: since writing this post, my sister who is seven years older than me, confirmed that the contents of the suitcase were a pair of socks, a pair of terry cloth underwear and a book. I guess my mother expected me to come back.