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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Betsy Who?

Can you recommend a patron saint for potty-training? I need help!

I saw an episode of Dr. Phil. Sister Mary Fiacre was on a Dr. Phil kick for a while there. He used to come on just about the time I got home from school. I would fix her a snack. I think she liked the colors and the music. I'm not sure she actually followed what was going on.

I don't care much for programs like that. They make me feel as though I'm standing in some strangers' house while the couple is fighting and I'm just shifting my weight from one foot to the other, biting my lip and feeling embarrassed for them both. Other people's problems and shame are not entertainment, not bad singing on American Idol and not the Battling Bickersons.

What was I talking about?

Oh! Dr. Phil. He had a show on about his potty training method, which seemed to me would work. It basically involved having the child potty train a doll while you give the child hundreds of glasses of juice or water. The whole event is over in a couple of hours. I'm sure you can use the Google to find it on the internets.

Meanwhile, I would say that the patron saint for potty training would have to be Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Such a fine woman. Born before the Revolutionary War and the first American born saint. There are other "American" saints, like Mother Frances Cabrini and the North American Martyrs but they weren't born here. Mother Seton didn't even get her fingers chewed off by the Iroquois. Here's what happened.

Her first cross to bear was that she was Episcopalian, better known as "Catholic Lite". We know that the Episcopal Church is the American version of the Anglican Church of England. The Anglican Church of England is what happened when a certain king wanted a divorce and couldn't get the Pope to go along with it. Not only did said king actually kill wives that got in the way of his plans, he started his own church and made himself the head of it. He wasn't very clever, though, so his church is basically the Catholic Church with the parts he personally didn't like taken out.

How convenient.

So Elizabeth got married and had five children. They were well off, her husband's family was well off. Then everything went south. The business went belly up, her husband's parents died and left them seven more children to tend, her husband got really sick and died.

During all of this Elizabeth and her husband went to Italy for his health. It didn't work out, but the family that cared for them was so impressive (those Italians are CATHOLIC) that when Elizabeth got home she converted. Being Catholic in America back then was not a popular thing to be, or do. Elizabeth founded a school that closed because of anti-Catholic bigotry (as William Donahue had yet to be born). Elizabeth soldiered on, founding a religious order (the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's) and a home for widows and women with children who needed help and lots of other wonderful things. Her surviving daughters became nuns.


So why is she the patron saint of potty training?

Did I mention she had five children and then suddenly had to take on seven more? And that her husband was sick? Who do you think potty trained those kids?

She didn't have cute little potty chairs that play a tune when you use them or "Pull Ups" or "Good Nites". She didn't even have a toilet, if you'll excuse me. She would have either had a chamber pot or an out house.

I have been around potty training and I know that one of the hurdles can actually be that the child is afraid of falling in. How do you think that child might react to using an out house?

Dr. Phil?


I think, not only would the child be terrified, but the truth is, the child actually could fall in and never be heard from again.

We do carry Saint Elizabeth Seton in the shop, although I'm not sure we have her in stock just now. In any case, I'm sure she can help you. It would be a snap for her.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that I am happy to see St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patron saint of this necessary skill. She is the saint I chose for my confirmation name. It's nice to know the one I chose is the very one I need to be praying to while I train my youngest. One of the only potty experiences my two year old has had ended up with his bottom in the toilet and his hands and feet around his head. I think I need to do a lot of praying!

Anonymous said...

Sister, I grew up on a farm in S.W. Missouri, and we had an outhouse until I was 6 or 7 years old. It would be hard to fall in. First of all the opening on all the ones I've seen were shaped something like a football, and about the same size--it would be difficult for a child who was old enough to climb up onto the seat to actually fall through the hole.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Lawrence, did I mention spiders? I didn't. I'll mention it now. Spiders.

But, I too, grew up where there were still out houses and I must suggest that you're outhouse was remarkably well designed as the ones to which I was unpleasantly accustomed had holes big enough for the whole family to fall through.

Barb said...

My mother had an aunt who actually did die from falling into an outhouse. She was rescued out of it, but was sickened in some way by the fumes or whatever down there and died several days later. (This was about a 100 years ago.)
My grandparents still had an outhouse on their farm when I was a small child and I was terrified of it, plus all of the various little creatures that lived in it during the summertime. Yuck! I have thanked the Lord many times in my life for indoor plumbing.

Laura Michele said...

Yay! Elizabeth Anne Seton is my patron Saint and my confirmation name!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,
Do you think it would be ok for me to start a business where I deal marijuana to people undergoing treatment for cancer? Moreover - would it be a sin? I wouldn't surcharge or charge exorbitant prices, and do not do drugs myself. I was just wondering your thoughts on this.

Thank you.

Rambling Speech said...

There's a book called "Potty Training in One Day"-- uses the doll idea. Mom followed a similar book 30 years ago for all three of use- very successfully! She used M&Ms as the reward for each step.

Now when I go to the bathroom I think about chocolate. I always wondered why until she told me.


Good luck with the potty training!

Amiechan said...

Aaah. I think everyone with an out house should do what I´ve seen numerable of times. More than one hole. One big for adults and one or two small ones for children. Just choose your own size. :)

Anonymous said...

I have a question for you to write about. You've said before that clergy and parents are responsible twice over when they sin or teach others to sin, but I wonder if you have any advice for godparents. I ask because my godchildren aren't going to Mass any more and aren't learning about their faith. I'm concerned about this, but unsure what to do, as I live hundreds of miles away, so can't take them myself, and don't really feel as though I should tell their parents what to do. Do you have any advice for me on being a good Godparent to the children of a lapsed Catholic? Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Back in the day, my uncles used to go outhouse tipping. It was a great Halloween prank. Til the time they tipped an outhouse with the owner occupied inside. I believe they paid dearly for that prank.
Sister don't forget snakes and wasp nests.

Anonymous said...

My gran's house has an outhouse, with a Perspex (or some such) roof. During the day you can look at the leaves/branches, and at night at the stars. This is nice.

Relevant for potty training - no dark corners for things to hide in. The walls are painted white, there's a creeper planted in one corner, and it is bright with daylight.

Anonymous said...

I too would like an answer to the godparent delima. I have godchildren whose parents aren't taking them to church. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

My parents have a cabin in the mountains complete with outhouse, and falling in was a great fear of mine. Now I don't worry about falling in, just loosing my sunglasses or whatever. And the spiders. We also had mice that would chew the toilet paper, so you had to bring your own or use leaves from outside if you forgot. Don't forget the sheet of ice that would form on the seat in the winter time!

Anonymous said...

Sister, I was going to mention spiders, but decided not to... but none of us, (Mom, Pop, brother, assorted farm workers,) ever got a spider bite. Maybe no self-respecting spider would set up shop in a place like that!

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh at this my dear Sister. Mother Seton is our foundress and I am sure she wouldn't mind helping out!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog comment on The Accidental Anabaptist. I will give Catholicism more than a passing glance. I promise.