Kids↹Leisure Reading / TV

The Emperor’s New Underwear

December 20, 2017
The Emperor's New Underwear

We potty-trained Jrue over Memorial Day Weekend 2016 using the 3-Day Potty Method, a systematic approach that mostly involves no bottom-wearing on day 1 and no diaper- or underwear-toting on days 2 and 3. The idea was to rid Jrue of the feeling of the barrier—if there was no diaper under his butt to catch outgoing waste, he would be better able to detect the urge to go.  

I was scared silly at the mental image of my exploratory 3-year-old stomping around the house, as free as Pooh Bear, potentially pooping in corners and hiding the mess under toys. I could see him aiming to pee on my bedroom carpet and us finding out about it by tracing a “strange” smell days later. I thought that he’d completely rebuff the potty-training process as a whole, even though his signs of readiness flashed repeatedly each day: the running off to cower and poop in shame, the patting of his butt when he had filled a diaper, the fun way “boo-boo” would regularly roll off the tongue, the mild entertainment found in the potty seat… 

The psychology and the science behind the 3-day technique seemed so solid. We dove right in on the Saturday of “Jrue’s Potty Party.” 

It worked too well. 

For months and months later, Jrue rejected underwear. He would loudly shriek after baths when I’d try to sit him in some “Paw Patrol” drawers. If given the option, Jrue ran around the house, wildly unfettered, pushing away from mommy and the underwear insistence. Instead of alerting mommy or daddy that he had gone #2 in the potty, he’d just plunk his dirty, naked butt onto the couch, prompting us to purchase a sofa cover pronto.   

I didn’t see it coming: who knew that dependency on nudity was a side-effect of potty-training? 

Fast-forward about six months: Jrue is consistently wearing underwear that he picks out every day. If he doesn’t ask an adult to help him pull them all the way up, then he lays the essential apparel on the floor, often backwards, and slides into them. I usually jokingly asks if the “butt on the front” feels weird, but I don’t think he gets the jest yet.  

This completely works for us. Reversed and all. 

Fast-forward again to just recently. My supposition is that we have been crucially earnest in Jrue’s mastering a bottom-wearing routine to the point of his newest paranoia; now, he gets upset if underwear is not immediately available. Once he uses the toilet, before which he undresses entirely and slings his underwear to the side from around an ankle, Jrue retrieves the bottoms and runs up to anyone for help in reapplying. To encourage independence, I put them on the floor and instruct him to try first, which is commonly successful.  

If the underwear is moved from the place he thought they were situated (sometimes by the little lady’s tentative hands), or if they are “trapped” inside his pants, Jrue will shrilly wail loud blares of dismay. No underwear to slide on after a bath? He will start in: “Mommy, help, where’s the underwear? WHERE’S THE UNDERWEAR?! WHERE ARE THEY?!”  

I just roll my eyes and shake my head.  

It has been so ironic to watch him vacillate in the other direction. His love-hate relationship with underwear reminds me of some warped version of the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”  

In the classic tale, a pretty stylish emperor is accosted by some shady sewers who claim that they could make him the outfit to beat all outfits. The emperor, one with an obvious ear for great fashion promise, agrees and puts the dressmakers to work, wherein they take weeks to demand these expensive threads and fabrics to produce…nothing.

Literally nothing.

The getup created is a fabulous frock of satin-rich goodness that is supposedly only visible to those who are intelligent and noble and worthy. Not one to be accused of being stupid, lowbred, or unfit, the emperor pretends to admire the invisible cloak and luxuriate in its splendor. Everyone in the palace, bewildered, follows his lead to prevent disgracing the ruler and to appear sophisticated to others. During the emperor’s grand reveal to his subjects, however, the smartest person in the town, a young child, speaks up and yells that the emperor is only naked, ’tis all. 

The story says so much about societal trends, doesn’t it? 

My kid is the emperor, very much into diapers but finding boredom in the humdrum and needing a change.


Mom and dad give him the alternative to “change the game” with up-and-coming potty-training couture, which so happens to be a complete level of undress. Not one to be proven a fool, Jrue parades around in his new “garment” while declaring it the next and greatest. Later, when convinced that his au naturel is, in fact, undignified in this life does he move towards a different kind of doctrine and empowerment in underwear. 

At least, that’s the way I’m reading it. 

You Might Also Like