If you’ve been reading my column for a while, you may remember something I wrote about the adventures of toilet training.
I am happy to report that as of this past week, I now have a toilet trained three year old. I believe the secret of my early failure and current success is that he was finally ready. Though he never volunteered to give up his diapers, I felt the time was right to take them away, and I was right. Unlike earlier attempts, he resisted much less, but most importantly, he decided to take us up on all the bribes we were offering.
The biggest bribe of all was an aquarium. My son has a passion for all kinds of animals, but water animals are his favorites. Sharks and whales are a big topic of conversation in our house. He has been to the Georgia Aquarium a few times, and whenever we go to the pet store, he lingers at the fish tanks.
It remains to be seen whether he’ll retain an interest in a 15-gallon fresh water aquarium. I have my doubts, but my husband has been talking about getting our son an aquarium for at least a year. So I knew it was only a matter of time. Then with the potty training, it seemed like the perfect excuse.
Lucky for me, I am married to a man who loves to shop, especially since I don’t like it. If shopping could be a hobby, it would be one of his. My husband does all our grocery shopping, sometimes he buys my clothes, and he has taught me how to be a frugal shopper. Most of all, if we’re going to buy something that’s expensive, he spends considerable time making the best purchase for quality and value. An aquarium is no exception.
He has been looking at aquariums for several months now. He hasn’t gone out of his way, but if we’re somewhere that might have them, he has checked prices and determined who has the cheapest. (If Consumer Reports has a listing about aquariums, I wouldn’t be surprised if he checked it.) Once he decided where he was going to buy it, he found one on sale for a good price, so he snatched it up. That was a few weeks ago when our son was still reluctant to shed the diapers, and the little rascal had the nerve to say he didn’t want the aquarium. To send him a serious message, my husband returned it to the store.
Then came the day that our son earned the aquarium, and he asked daddy to bring the aquarium back. So my husband said we’d go pick out another aquarium since this first one wasn’t on sale anymore.
But let me fill you in on something. My husband spends countless hours weighing his options to buy this or that, but 99% of the time, he ends up with whatever he picked out in the first place. I can’t tell you how many times I have waited for him in a store, knowing long before he did what we would go home with.
So the other night we went to the pet store, and there was the question of whether to get a single Beta fish or a tank that would hold more fish. Then there was the question of what size to get. Start small? But what happens when our son asks for more fish? My son and I did several rounds around the store, looking at the other pets while my husband asked the associate many questions. One tank was put into the cart and then replaced by another. We picked out the rocks and a little house and some plants, and just before going home, my husband once again switched his choice to another tank -- which was the first tank he had returned only a week before.
Our three year old has a lot to learn about life, but he is already learning that when it comes to shopping with daddy, there are no quick decisions. Fortunately, I know that someday he’ll be a discerning shopper like his dad. Unfortunately, he didn’t understand us when we told him the aquarium would have to be set up a few days before we bought the fish. When his father finally opened that big box and pulled out the equipment, our son, exasperated, held up his arms, palms up, and asked, “Where’s the fish?!” After all that shopping, no fish?!
You’ll be happy to know that now we have the fish, a happy, diaper-less boy, and a husband who is at peace with the aquarium purchase and now thinking about whatever his next purchase might be.
Shelli Bond Pabis is a columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.