Monday, December 15, 2014

Captain Underpants

Once upon a time I was in the 9th Grade at Oak Canyon Jr. High and I was in an honors English class. I drop the honors not only to feed my ego (hello ego! nice to see you all big and overbearing!) but also to paint the picture of academia (ok, fine, I'll just call it nerdiness) that went on in that class. I remember Mrs. Jensen telling us that in a room full of "type A individuals" she expected more than turning in quality papers on time. She fed our egos too. Clearly we were far superior to those in her ordinary classes. 

In case you aren't aware of it, in Jr. High there are groups of people, Jocks, Popular Girls (why there are no popular guys or female jocks I'll never know), Dancers, Stoners, and of course Nerds. I can't tell you for sure about the groups of which I wasn't a part, but within the Nerds there were subsets. Cool Nerds, Goof Off Nerds, Athletic Nerds (not the same as jocks), Pretty Nerds (aka Smart Cheerleaders), Nerd-Nerds (comes with a pocket protector!), Band Nerds, Singing Nerds, etc. 

Of course now that I've grown so mature and adult about things, I realize that these categories serve exactly no purpose at all, but they were alive and well nonetheless. (Nerds Who Use 'Nonetheless' was not at a category). 

Oral book reports were one very important piece of our grade in Mrs. Jensen's class. And though I can't be sure of the reading material requirement, I feel fairly confident that when Mike G. (a goof off nerd) stood up and announced that he'd be presenting his report on the book Captain Underpants, Mrs. Jensen was disappointed. Mike G. had guts. But you know what blew my mind? He actually prepared a real live book report, with a handout, a point and EVERYthing! About a book called Captain Underpants, which seemed to be some kind of comic strip. He gave us laminated bookmarks with the caption "Underneath we all wear underpants" on it. At the time I had no idea that he was impacting the rest of my life. 

So in 9th Grade was formally introduced to Captain Underpants. 


Fast forward some years. Tommy and John are boys. Both of them. And they think potty humor is the best (and funniest) ever. 
For example:
J: Knock knock
T: Who's there
J: Diiiiiie-pah!
T: Diaper who?
J: DIIIIIIIE-PAH booty bum bum!!!! baaa ha ha ha ha
And they laugh and laugh and laugh. 

Or they did until their mother told them that our bodily functions are not for people to laugh at and that if I heard any more potty jokes I'd feed them vinegar. Now their potty jokes go like this. 

J: Knock knock
T: Who's there
J: Diiiiiie-pah!
T: Diaper who?
J: DIIIIIIIE-PAH booty bum bum!!!!
*crickets and the most serious face*
J: Potty word, no laughing mom. no laughing about potty words. 

So, you see my parenting is very effective. 

But the most important piece of information here is that I have the secret. I know how to make my boys laugh. And if I am ever in a silly mood, we can all have a good laugh over a potty word. 


Now Fast Forward to John being interested in potty training. It's about dang time, and honestly I think if I stopped buying diapers and wipes Josh would do backflips and sing my praises forever. 

I made John a potty chart and we very casually let him use the toilet anytime he wants. He gets a sticker when he does and everybody's happy. I don't have it in me to do that "2 day potty training" thing, instead I just want him to do it himself. So, we've been encouraging that. Well, he filled up his first potty chart and kept talking about wearing unders and so I put a clipart of captain underpants on his second potty chart. 

The moment I told the boys that this guy was Captain Underpants!!! I became the coolest mom in the West. When I told Tommy that the quietest place on earth (the library) had a book about Captain Underpants he died laughing and immediately demanded that we all go the library AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!! So we did, and I let him check out Captain Underpants (2 books!) and we read them. 

Disclaimer: I had never read these books before reading them with my 5 year old. 

I cannot possibly de-recommend these books enough. 

I mean it. Really. They are full of potty humor and horrible pranks. (ketchup packets under the toilet seat) The cool kids in the book make fun of the nerds. They use mean words and teasing and more slapstick violence than I find funny. As far as I can tell these books have no redeemable qualities. 

Except of course that my child now thinks reading is the best thing that has ever happened to him and he wakes up early asking if we can read and stays up late quietly "reading" in his bed. He has always enjoyed reading when we do it together, but he has never wanted so desperately to read something so often. And honestly? Anything that makes my kids love books is good in my world. 

NOTE: Also I think it's fine for a kid in 9th grade to read these books because they've already heard all of these mean words (and if he's a nerd probably been called them and if he's not a nerd he's probably called someone them) and he gets that slapstick whacking is not the same as trying to murder your little brother and he probably thinks it's funny to find the grammatical errors. 

So we read. The whole dang thing. 2 volumes of Captain Underpants. 

Except the pages that had booger jokes, which was a lot of them since the book was called Captain Underpants and the Bionic Booger Boy. And on the page where the "idiot nerd boy", Melvin Sneedly sneezed while his combinotron was merging his boy body with a robot the snot also got put in the mix and Tommy started gagging uncontrollably. He nearly lost his lunch and gagged and gagged and gagged and I said "Should we quit reading this totally gross-o book?" and he covered his mouth, put on his strongest and most determined face and said "No, just cover those yuck-o pictures and I'll plug my ears while you read till we get to that funny captain underpants part again. OK?" So we did. 

And that is the long long tale of that one time I read a stupid book to my 5 year old and now he loves reading and I'm afraid he'll never stop checking out these books and I'll be sorry for the rest of my life that I tried to potty train Little John. Serves me right.


  1. I think you need to let Gleave know about the amazing effect he has had on your life.

  2. Good times in Mrs. Jensen's class. Thanks for the memory!

  3. You know, I wasn't in that class but I do remember hearing Mike talking about his report on that book. This post made me laugh and think about Oak canyon for the first time in ages... What a weirdo time in life.


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