I like to think that I’m a reasonably open minded guy. It takes a fair amount to shock me, and I’m generally not too offended by deviance. As an avowed fan of so-called transgressive acts like Throbbing Gristle, Coil, GG Allin and the Butthole Surfers, I’m usually not especially bothered by explorations into the realms of the arguably lurid or profane. Just think how boring life would be if we didn’t have artists like these to give the envelope a good shove every now and again. Transgression helps us question our collective values and re-assess rigid social mores, and that can only be healthy.
That all said, I’m certainly still capable of being shocked. Every now and again I’ll see something that takes the wind out of my sails or puts me off my food. One such occasion was this past weekend. I was out strolling around the West Village with Peg and the kids, and I was stopped dead in my tracks by something I saw in a shop window, specifically Pee & Poo, a pair of anthropomorphized waste products that had jumped right out of the toilet and into the toy store.
I’m not exactly sure what the back story is here (although they have a website). Pee & Poo don’t seem to be so much a question-raising work of art as much as an eyebrow-raising plaything. The shop in question is of some Scandiweigan origin, and I know they look at life quite differently over there, but still – I’m just kinda not down with the overall message they seem to be sending that feces and urine are perfectly cool things to play with.
With a two year old and a four year old in my house, I am – by this point – well versed in the travails of potty-training (although, admittedly, it’s Peg that sees the most carnage in that conflict). I do believe that it’s extremely important to convey the right message while in the throes of this delicate process. Children shouldn’t be made to feel self-conscious or needlessly embarrassed about their bodily functions. Such feelings of awkwardness and/or shame can only lead to dysfunction and trauma in later life. It’s for this reason that you see titles like “Everybody Poops” and “My Big Boy Potty” in the children’s section of book stores. Kids need to feel comfortable and natural about it. I’m all for any instructional tools that can help a family get through it with as much ease as possible.
But I have to say that I think a plush, cuddly dollop of shit is taking things a little too far.