And Now for Something Completely Different

Back to the blog after a brief mental health hiatus.

And after a couple weeks of writing about politics and Palin and Pelosi and special session wrangling, It’s time to delve into the little-examined connection between hot tubs and successful potty training.

We became the reluctant owners of an outdoor hot tub when we purchased our Marion homestead. Downside — The USS Swinger takes up half our patio and is, unfortunately, completely unshielded from neighborly sight lines. That might have been fine for the younger, fitter couple who bought the tub. I, however, have not voluntarily taken off my shirt in public since the first Bush administration.

Upside — This is a luxury item that I never would have purchased sober, so I tell myself to quit being such a stiff and enjoy your good fortune. Just think, when I walk through the Varied Industries building at the State Fair, I can proudly tell all the spa-hawkers, “Sorry, I’m already in the tub club.” They might even show me the secret handshake.

The tub also came with a pantry-full of chemicals bearing daunting names such as “shock.” It did not, however, come with instructions for proper shocking. Oh well, I thought. How tough can it be?

Undaunted, we drained and filled the tub in December and used it on New Year’s Eve. Aside from the fact that our champagne froze in our glasses and our wet hair froze to our head, it was a jolly time.

We jumped in a week or so later only to be greeted by slimy algae covering every surface. So that’s why we have all those chemicals. My slime-disliking wife jumped out after just 30 seconds. “What horrible thing did he say to her?” neighborly viewers might have wondered.

Re-daunted, I put the cover on and did not open it again until August. I did use the tub’s stereo occasionally while grilling, so it became the world’s largest patio radio.

I wondered if anyone would buy this thing, cheap, BYOC. (Bring your own crane.)

But I reconsidered. You can imagine what I found as I finally unsealed the tomb, I mean, the tub, last month. To make a disgusting story short, after some vigorous scrubbing and a visit to the spa store and a water test and a load of chemicals, we re-christened the Swinger during a brief, low-key ceremony.

This was great news for our kids, who fell in love with the hot tub at first splash, wondering loudly how their thoughtless, funless parents could have delayed this life-changing moment for months. At breakfast this week, they actually sang a song praising the hot tub. Not making it up.

And that’s also when this big box of bubbly water finally got useful.

We’ve been trying to potty train my youngest daughter, Ella, 3, for months, with very mixed results. But now that potty proficiency can be rewarded with coveted hot tub time, steady progress is being made. It’s a miracle of modern aquatics.

We read books and magazines and downloaded Dora the Explorer potty charts and asked the advice of experts. We tried candy and toys and trips to the chaotic vortex that is Chuck E. Cheese’s. And all the time, the secret weapon was taking up half of our patio. Maybe I’ll write a book.

So now the hot tub has become a beloved member of the clan. Even I use it on occasion, but only late at night, when it’s very, very dark.



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2 responses to “And Now for Something Completely Different

  1. Rob

    No potty’n in the hot tub?! I thought that that IS why you need the chemicals. Silly me.

  2. JimD

    A hot tub story with a happy ending! That’s about as rare as animals wearing lip-stick, but much more pleasant to hear about.

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