I imagine myself as a sort of respected sergeant major, clearly and forcefully advising the troops. My wife sees things differently. She thinks I’m just being a loud idiot.
Because my wife is my sergeant major, I have been trying to tone down my sergeant major routine. I’ve taken my authority voice down to a friendly whisper. They still ignore me, but my wife is happier.
“If you do a poo in the potty,” I whisper, “you’ll get a special present.” My son will happily wee in the potty, but pooing in public is a step too far for him. He just doesn’t like it. In fairness, who does? He prefers hiding under the dining table and pooing in his pants. He thinks about my offer. He asks, what kind of special present? I tell him it’s a present beyond measure, wondrous and amazing, possibly even a biscuit. He gazes at me thoughtfully, then wanders off.
Now each time I find him groaning under the table, I don’t use my sergeant major voice, I tell him in hushed tones about the unparalleled present he will receive if he doesn’t poo in his pants. I can tell the thought is starting to work it’s way into his head.
Later he asks to sit on the potty. I’m overjoyed. Maybe this not raising my voice thing really works. He spends half an hour there, groaning like he’s in labour. Finally he calls me over and tells me earnestly that he’s done a poo and can he have his special present now? We check the potty. There is nothing there. I explain that the terms of the bargain require real poo. He narrows his eyes at me.
I have a much needed shower. He rushes into the bathroom excitedly, finger out stretched. Without my glasses I have to bend down and nearly touch my nose to his finger to see what’s on it. Turns out to be a rice grain sized piece of poo.
“Aaagh!” I shout, like a girl.
“Special present!” My son shouts back, triumphant.