No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service (The Potty-Training Chronicles)


“No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service” read the sign on the Chinese restaurant door. It didn’t say anything about diapers or underwear which was an unfortunate mistake on the sign-makers part. Maybe they need to make signs just for toddlers, or at least for the parents of toddlers. Something like, “Underwear must be worn at all times. No naked bottoms allowed.”

Over the weekend we took Tiny-Small and my mom out to the Chinese Buffet. We’ve been working on Potty training and it’s been going well. Very few accidents, but a lot of nudity. Tiny-Small doesn’t see the point in wearing underwear or a diaper really. At home, this isn’t a big deal. At the Chinese restaurant, well, let’s just say other diners are probably not big fans of potty-training nudity. So, we made Tiny-Small wear a diaper. It seemed like an acceptable compromise at the time.

Half way through dinner, my mom’s expression changed. She said, to Tiny-Small, “I think your mom might need to help you.” She helped Tiny-Small climb out of the booth, and there my daughter stood with her diaper around her ankles.

“I have to go PEE-PEE!” She yelled, “I have to go Pee-Pee RIGHT NOW!” I ran to assist her. I wanted to pull the diaper up, but instead she stepped out of it and then her dad picked her up. She was wearing a dress. The dress was up around her armpits because dad’s don’t think about making sure dresses are hanging down where they are supposed to be.

“Pull her dress down,” I stage-whispered. Jim looked at me like I was insane. “PULL HER DRESS DOWN!” I hissed at him. Finally he realized that Tiny-Small was flashing the entire restaurant. Mooning everyone in sight. I am pretty sure we violated numerous Chinese Buffet health codes and state laws and I don’t even want to think about what else.

“You’re going to get us in trouble.” I whispered to poor, confused, Jim. The man I married. For better or for worse. Till death do us part…naked baby butts and all.

Then my mom said, “Kids used to run around naked all the time and nobody cared.”

“People get their kids taken away for two months while they are investigated for having a picture of their child in the bathtub now. I can’t imagine what happens to people who have naked kids in Chinese restaurants.” I replied. I sounded ridiculous. I knew it. Still, it’s hard not to be paranoid when you read the news. I mean, child nudity is a big deal sometimes.

Tiny-Small and I ran to the bathroom. I held her hand and carried her diaper as we walked quickly to remedy the situation. She went potty in the bathroom (yay!). We washed our hands. We went back to our booth and finished eating. Luckily, nobody seemed to mind that they had seen a naked toddler during their meal. I guess it’s because we didn’t technically break the no shirts, no shoes, no service rule. Or, perhaps, people here understand that accidents happen sometimes, especially with toddlers. Our fellow diners didn’t seem to think it was a big deal at all really, probably because it wasn’t. At least not to anybody but me. I’m paranoid, obviously. I’m a modern mom. Paranoid seems to come with the territory.

Still, later I felt kind of sad that I had worried so much about our accidental nudity incident. It’s embarrassing to be this paranoid. I probably wouldn’t have worried so much about Tiny-Small accidentally flashing a few diners if I hadn’t just read this story about a family in Arizona that had their kids taken away (after a Walmart employee reported them to the police for taking photos of their kids in the bathtub). When I was a kid, naked baby photo’s and bathtub shots were pretty much a standard photographic category for any baby book. I had friends with bare bottomed photos on the living room wall (we called them blackmail photos). Now it is a crime. One that could make you lose your job, make your children undergo medical exams, and separate your family. Sometimes, it just feels like we live in a much scarier world than we used to. Where you can lose everything important to you just by living your life.

Do you worry about taking photos of your children or the ramifications of accidental, public nudity? Do you have any funny potty training stories to tell? Are you a paranoid parent too?


20 thoughts on “No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service (The Potty-Training Chronicles)”

  1. I am a paranoid parent too. I was attempting to take a splinter out of my 4 year old sons hand last night and all the windows were open and he’s screaming stuff like “I don’t want to do it! Don’t make me!” I thought for sure the cops would be at my doorstep! It’s sad we have to worry about that but when it’s needed it isn’t anywhere to be found!

  2. I think parents are unwise to post those kinds of photos on the internet. In your own home, or grandma’s home, baby butts are fine.

    It sounds like potty training is going really well! I’d ditch the diapers. Do they still make those thick, absorbent terry cloth potty training pants? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, ask your mom. I’m sure she remembers them.)

    1. I wouldn’t post those photos on the Internet either. I would worry about who was looking at them.

      I’d like to ditch the diapers. T.S. seems to be pretty potty trained. It’s just hard when we leave the house because she only gives us a short warning and I worry we won’t get to a bathroom in time. I will look for those potty training pants. I think that might be a nice transition to regular underwear. I might be able to find some on the Internet.

  3. I love this story. I love all your stories. I do think we’ve become paranoid; the bathtub shots are such a perfect example but then my inner fascist says “how do we know the kids understand the meaning of those photos and whether they want us taking those pics?” When did this happen to us? Today I had to write a long e-mail to T3’s teacher explaining that the large stick he brought in to school was not menacing but was his “share day” item: a “staff” he fashioned after Gandalf’s… I didn’t want him getting suspended for bringing a “weapon” to school.

    It’s harder and harder to be normal and free these days. Thanks for writing this; you and the patrons of the Chinese Buffet give me hope.

    1. I have read so many stories about kids getting arrested (or expelled) for bringing things to school that were deemed weapons. It’s probably smart to make your intentions clear ahead of time. We operate within extremes it seems like. That kindergartner that got charged with sexual harassment because he kissed a classmate comes to mind. Kind of ridiculous! Wasn’t there a recent story about a kid biting his chicken nugget and it looked like a gun to his teacher so he was forced to leave his daycare (or something like that)? It’s like people don’t have any common sense. I don’t quite know what to make of it.

  4. I do not take any photos that can be taken the wrong with of my son. Yes I ma paranoid. My experience with potty training has been a rollercoaster ride. My son is on the autism spectrum and potty training has not come easy for us. He wears pulls ups to sleep and travel but at home just boxers. So yes he is getting it slowly but surely. He will be six this year. This was a funny story I have to say. I am glad that the patrons in the restaurants were understanding.

    1. I am the same way about the photos. I have a couple of bathtub pictures, but they are from the neck up.

      Potty training really is a roller coaster ride. It sounds like your son is doing really well. I think sleeping and traveling are always the hardest times to make it to the bathroom.

  5. Raising hand as a mostly paranoid parent. Boo. Baby butts (and even squirmy potty training toddler butts) are adorable.

  6. I just read the WalMart story. That is HORRIFYING! I didn’t know photos like that could get your children taken away from you. What a terrible ordeal. So I totally understand why you were paranoid in the restaurant. How wonderful is it that she made it to the bathroom in time, though? I’m also in the process of potty training my son, and it’s very touch and go. Definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Thanks for sharing your story, as always, with humor.

    1. Potty training has been hard. We have been trying on and off for a year now. I have come to the conclusion that I am not very good at the training part. I don’t stick to schedules well. I forget to remind her. I have a nagging suspicion she’d be further along if she had a different mom. Oh well, she’s stuck with me! We all do the best we can, right?

  7. I have on precious picture of my little boy sitting buck naked on my piano bench. Everything was so perfect about it. It looks like a professional photo! But he’s naked! I don’t care, I love it and his buns seen round the world!

  8. I haven’t heard of this bathtub story before…I guess it is all about finding the middle route. I have some friends in Sweden and the ways they are used to when raising children are sometimes too weird to me. E.g. a woman did not want to let her child attend the swimming pool classes (as a part of PE) because the kid had flu or something, and the school started an investigation in their family as they were concerned she wants to hide the signs of physical abuse by not letting the child go to the pool…At one point you are happy that the government takes so much care in the well-being of your kids but then again, that’s an exaggeration to me.
    I am glad the people in the restaurant were OK with Tiny-Small diaper accident. It just means they were NORMAL! 🙂

    1. I agree. People take things to extremes and it sounds so ridiculous that it is hard to believe it is true. I mean, so what if a kid doesn’t go to swim class? It doesn’t mean anything!

  9. Hahahahahha! Tiny Small likes to go commando! (I don’t know if Chrissy posted this on her blog or not, but in college she’d go commando instead of doing her laundry. Ah. Good times.)

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