The situation was that my second child was going on four and still in diapers. People were starting to talk. I was already “that mom with the biter.” They called my firstborn “The Shark” around the St. Nicholas Daycare. His dental impressions were found on everyone, or so they claimed. I swear one of those kids was biting himself just to get an extra turn on the scooter, but whatever. Eventually they put my boy on the naughty list and kicked him out… hence the employment gap you’ve noted, and The Shark’s complete hatred of Santa Claus.

Once nursery workers turn on you, you’re under constant surveillance. You pass them in the dairy aisle. They smile sweetly, avoiding eye contact, noting the mismatched socks and the odor of soy sauce as they select their fake butter. They ‘hear you’ve had another’ and ‘wish you the best … this time.’ So you can understand why, with this second child, his bathroom habits were a pressing matter.

Past experience suggested using the W-SYCT method: wait, snatch, yank, chuck, throw. This involves waiting for the child to hide in a corner while doing his business, snatching him from said corner, yanking down his pants, chucking his butt onto the toilet, and then throwing a towel over his head. At this point, old school devotees of the method might yell, “You need to hide when you poop? Fine, now you’re hiding.” It worked for The Shark; however, this new child was different. Cerebral.

I crunched the numbers. I explained that his affection for brand-name diapers was costing more and more. I made him a graph, showing him how our income was stagnant and our cost-per-diaper was increasing, what with his growing capacity to produce waste. He questioned the validity of my data, scribbling on it with a crayon.

Inspired by the experience of a mentor, I decided to let him go au naturel through his day, plunking the potty chair on some old newspapers smack in front of a never-ending loop of Nick Jr. This brought small successes. It also grossed me out, especially when I found him sitting there with a sippy cup and a half-eaten bag of chocolate chips.

I searched deep within myself and discovered a fleeting memory of Psych 101 and aversion therapy. I realized that the child had grown to despise diaper rash cream, mistakenly associating the pain with the cure. I began applying it to his delicate parts every time I changed him, rash or not. I would brandish the tube. He would cry, no, no. I would be firm, sympathetic:

“Sorry, bud, I know how much you hate this,” I would say. Once the crying stopped, I would casually mention, “You know, if you used the potty like a big boy, you’ll never need this again.”

The result? A fine, well-adjusted, non-diaper wearing three-and-three-quarter-year-old. Sure, he shrieks at the sight of toothpaste tubes, but given the growing availability of pump dispensers, I’d declare the collateral damage minimal, wouldn’t you? Plus, consider the 11.325% decrease in spending. That, if you’ll pardon the pun, is the real bottom line; the innovative problem solving I’ll bring to the table should you hire me.