“To the Best Nanny in the Whole World Except for This One Little Thing,” by Maggie Lane

May 8th, 2013 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Dear Jackie,

Please know how grateful Edward and I are for the loving care you provide to Louisa and Will.  Because their attachment to you is strong, perhaps even excessive, and because they believe that everything you do is the “right” way and ours by contrast is “wrong” or “stupid” and once even “for shit,” it’s important that we be on the same page in our childrearing practices.

It’s come to our attention that your toilet training method differs from our own.  Louisa told us (offhand, we are not asking her to spy on you at this time) that whenever you take Will to urinate in the bathroom, you say, “Push the little man down!”

We understand it’s important that he aim his urine into the toilet bowl and not on the back of the toilet or on you. We also appreciate the celebratory aspect of your directive.  “Push the little man down!” has a certain insouciance, a joie de vivre if you will, that creates an atmosphere of fun and encouragement as Will moves to autonomy in micturation.

However, we are concerned that calling Will’s penis “little” may cause anxieties in the future.  When Edward was a boy, his mother, Mrs. Rivard (you met her on Grandparents’ Day), a woman congenitally (pun intended) opposed to naming body parts and perhaps even to body parts themselves, called Edward’s penis “Eddy’s Little Fellow.” Although Edward is far from little in that regard (indeed “Eddy’s Little Fellow” earned him a high-school nickname referencing a legendary cinematic monster), the appellation haunts him to this day with certain performance issues unnecessary to detail.

Furthermore, “pushing down” the “little man” carries overtones of violence, classism and racism that belies the effortlessness and peacefulness we hope Will will associate with elimination.  It’s my own firm belief, and I wrote my thesis on this, that in the absence of child abuse, violence in the world begins with childhood urination games of  “swords.”

Edward and I spent last evening brainstorming alternatives.  This is what we came up with:

  • Put out the fire in the potty!
  • Water the cornfields! (the crop could be changed seasonally)
  • Show Godzilla the way!

Or you could be straightforward and clear:

  • Aim for the bowl!

We role-played.  To be honest, and I am reluctant to give ground here, Edward actually preferred “Push the little man down!”  However we cannot endorse this per the previously mentioned performance issues.  We request you simply instruct Will to hold his penis at a downward angle so that his urine goes directly into the toilet bowl.

Of course this is a minor problem in comparison to his other elimination challenges.  Even so, we ask that you refrain from saying “Oh, shit” when Will pushes out his bowels in inappropriate locations.

In fact, his defecation issue may be an occasion to use your favorite phrase.  Just a small change in prepositions gives us

Push the little man out!

In the interest of gender equality, “little woman” could be alternated with “little man.”  I might also point out that, should Will’s deposit vary in number, you’ll have an excellent opportunity for teaching irregular singular and plural nouns.

I just came up with another one.  Perhaps it shares the original phrase’s light-heartedness:

Push the little piggies in the potty! 

I like this one very much.  Yes, I think this is best.  It might entice him to defecate in places other than your lap.

Again, we thank you for your good care.  I’m confident that sorting out this matter will keep our son’s psychosexual development on an optimal track.  We’re very fortunate that you share this goal.

And yes, of course we’ll cover any dry cleaning or replacement costs for your pants.




Defenestration-Generic Female 01Maggie Lane has an MFA, four children, restless leg syndrome, mild hypochondria and a Peppermint Patty in the freezer.  She’s made a solemn promise never to write a book about her dog.  She’s cute but ordinary.

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