Jesus uses the Potty: A Christmas Story

Last week, Owen and I built our first snowman of the year. The snow was powdery and impossible to pack together, but we made a little mound and then another one, and found some wood chips and branches for the eyes, nose, and arms. When we were finished (or so I thought), Owen said, “But the snowman need a penis for pee-pee in the potty.” Of course he does. So I (ever encouraging potty training) obligingly supplied a small twig in an appropriate location. We made this wee (wee-wee) snow man at the park… I kind of hope no one looked too closely.

When I was a teenager, and well into my adulthood, my family attended the candlelight Christmas eve service at a Presbyterian church in Rockburn. We weren’t Presbyterian (and we dropped into church one day a year), but it’s the prettiest church around, and I think it’s the closest one to my parents’ house. Because it’s situated in a rural area and because of generally dwindling attendance, this church always had a hard time finding ministers. One year, there was no minister at all, and the congregation had decided to put on the Christmas Eve service themselves. Children were sent up to the altar to read heartwarming poems they’d written about the magic of Christmas. Adolescents and adults read about the Nativity. The choir is always wonderful, so we heard solos and duets, and then joined in for the choruses. We held our candles and sang “Silent Night.” The most “creative” part of the service was a reenactment of “Mary and Joseph: The Untold Story.” Two parishioners went to the front of the church and, acting as Mary and Joseph, proceeded to have an argument about which one of them was going to change Jesus’ diaper. I think they were trying to humanize the holy couple, but the whole thing left me kind of aghast.

Anyway, at some point before Christmas, in an attempt to show Owen that the holiday was not simply about Santa Claus and presents, I told him the story of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay for the night so Mary could have her baby. It’s a beautiful story – I’d forgotten how human it is. A pregnant mother seeking lodging must finally accept shelter in a barn with animals. Mary (and Jesus) are so vulnerable in this account, and I guess the presence of the animals have appealed to children through the ages. After I told him this story, and throughout the Christmas season, Owen would every now and then ask me to draw baby Jesus, or make baby Jesus out of play-dough. Tonight, I was tired, so I explained to Owen how I made baby Jesus out of play-dough. We made a round head, a longer body, and then a blanket (the swaddling clothes). But Owen, toddler that he is, soon took off Jesus’s blanket and held him over one of the empty play-dough containers.

“I have to take off baby Jesus’ blanket.”

“Why do you have to do that, Owen?”

“I want baby Jesus to go potty,” he said.

Of course you do.

When asked whether he himself would like to go, the reply was a breezy “Not yet. After supper.” Meanwhile, he peed (and pooped) in his diaper.

(I’ll just let you guess what I was thinking).