Thursday, June 04, 2009

Parcopresis

It appears that Lawrence Poirier has Parcopresis or Shy Bowel . Parcopresis is a psychological disorder, more accurately termed psychogenic fecal retention, whereby the sufferer is unable to defecate unless they have a certain level of privacy. The level of privacy involved varies from sufferer to sufferer. I can honestly say that Lynn Johnston had gone into territory in which I have never seen a comic strip head with this one. As much as I have complained about the new-runs just repeating old storylines without expanding on them, Lynn Johnston has actually surprised me with this one. I would have never guessed that anyone would do a story sequence based on Parcopresis in a comic strip. This is definitely not a repeated storyline, and I congratulate Lynn Johnston for trying something different.

Just for fun I pulled up AMU reprints and searched for the word “bowel” to see what came up for any comic out there covered by AMU reprints. Into the Bleachers had 2 strips featuring Irritable Bowel Syndrome, where the joke each time had to do with the idea that a character’s bowl was irritable, i.e. picking fights with other people. The other one was (you guessed it) For Better or For Worse. In this strip from 2/4/2000, Elly’s bowel was mentioned. At least Lynn Johnston didn't win Battle of the Comic Strip bowel jokes. Well, not until this week.

As near as I can tell then, Lawrence has Parcopresis and Connie Poirier has left him to spend the night over at the Patterson’s house, instead of picking him up after her night with Elly. My son had bed-wetting problems for years and I can tell you, as a parent, we were aware of the situation. We were very cautious about any place where he slept and made sure everything was properly prepared, so my son would not suffer embarrassment and the sleeping area would not suffer damage.

Parents are usually, intimately aware of problems their kids have in these types of areas. Unless Connie Poirier is an extraordinarily inept parent, she would know about Lawrence’s Parcopresis. It would have come up with Lawrence going to preschool. Moreover, the sitter that Connie regularly uses, who was supposedly there taking care of all the kids, would be aware of Lawrence’s Parcopresis. Why wouldn’t Connie or the sitter have made some kind of accommodation for Lawrence? This whole storyline with Lawrence and the bathroom depends on both of these persons, who are supposed to be taking care of Lawrence every day, not thinking about whether or not Lawrence could spend the night away from home.

Historically, the strip does not make much sense. When Connie went chasing to Montreal after Phil, in the original strips, she left Lawrence with the Pattersons. Of course, in that sequence, Lawrence broke a limb and Connie didn’t care. So, maybe this woman knows that Lawrence has Parcopresis and simply does not care enough to let the persons taking care of him for her know enough to deal with it. Is that where we are going with this strip? A gigantic slam of Connie Poirier’s parenting?

I guess it would make sense. John went out with Ted, and Ted got stinking drunk. Bad Ted! Elly goes out with Connie and she shows she doesn’t care about her son. Bad Connie! If Lynn really is heading this way, then we can expect Elly to come along and somehow save the day. I am sure she will come out of it smelling like a rose, or some other odor appropriate to the theme of this strip.

15 Comments:

Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

It never occurred to me that Connie's failure to mention or compensate for his issues was a reflection on her parenting; that's because bcrowesteffi has made too good an argument for this being proof that Elly has no business having a social life of her own.

9:49 PM  
Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

By the way, is everything okay with you? You were absent a couple of days and, well, with your mother-in-law's health being not quite the best, well....

10:12 PM  
Blogger forworse said...

...Ted got stinking drunk. Bad Ted! Elly goes out with Connie and she shows she doesn’t care about her son. Bad Connie!


I think you've got it right there: when Bad Ted and Bad Connie finally hook up, we already have pre-formed opinions of what a terrible match they will make and can join the Pattersons in saintly disapproval.

10:52 PM  
Blogger howard said...

DreadedCandiru2,

It never occurred to me that Connie's failure to mention or compensate for his issues was a reflection on her parenting-

It is possible that it never occurred to Lynn Johnston either; but we will see how this story goes soon enough.

By the way, is everything okay with you? You were absent a couple of days and, well, with your mother-in-law's health being not quite the best, well....-

I had an unexpected business trip which took me to a land without easy computer access. It was not related to my mother-in-law. As for my mother-in-law, she is currently in a hospital which specializes in doing physical therapy and has hopes of getting out soon.

11:29 PM  
Blogger howard said...

forworse,

I think you've got it right there: when Bad Ted and Bad Connie finally hook up, we already have pre-formed opinions of what a terrible match they will make and can join the Pattersons in saintly disapproval.-

This is certainly true. After this storyline is finished, Phil is going to look really smart for turning Connie down. Ted is already a man I wouldn’t wish on any woman.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless Connie Poirier is an extraordinarily inept parent, she would know about Lawrence’s Parcopresis. It would have come up with Lawrence going to preschool.

Not really. There's rarely any reason to poo at school, and I don't think I ever did. Honestly, I always thought this was something that almost every woman on the planet had in common. It makes for a heck of a boring comic strip, though. Either people are going to be disgusted by poo (which I'm not) or bored out of their minds by such a bland storyline. Or confused by the timing of everything.

11:36 PM  
Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

Oh, good! I was worried there. It's good that April_Patterson was right that you were simply too busy to update. As for the strip, I too think that Lynn is unlike to have considered how this reflects on Connie; that's because we're about to be the witnesses to a family-unfriendly Aesop about how Elly shouldn't have a life that doesn't involve her family.

2:29 AM  
Blogger Muzition said...

I'm not entirely sure that Lawrence has parcopresis. In June 4th's comic, it appears that Mike has been standing outside the bathroom door while Lawrence was in there -- if he did have shy bowel, wouldn't Mike's standing outside the door make him unable to go?

Also, I'm not sure the parcopresis diagnosis fits with today's (June 5) comic, where Lawrence didn't flush the toilet. I would think that if Lawrence had a shy bowel, he would flush the toilet, and not leave the evidence there for someone else to see.

Just my opinion.

7:43 AM  
Blogger howard said...

clio_1,

There's rarely any reason to poo at school, and I don't think I ever did. Honestly, I always thought this was something that almost every woman on the planet had in common. -

Where my kids went to preschool, there was a bathroom attached to every class room because many kids at ages 3 and 4 do not have great control. I suspect that kids having a poo at school is a lot more common than kids never pooing at school ever, male or female. I know for a fact, both my kids had a poo at school.

8:17 AM  
Blogger howard said...

DreadedCandiru2,

As for the strip, I too think that Lynn is unlike to have considered how this reflects on Connie; that's because we're about to be the witnesses to a family-unfriendly Aesop about how Elly shouldn't have a life that doesn't involve her family.-

That’s possible. Lynn will usually take an “Elly martyr” strip over a “Connie is not as good as Elly” strip.

8:17 AM  
Blogger howard said...

Muzition,

I'm not entirely sure that Lawrence has parcopresis.-

Well, he has something which keeps him from doing the complicated stuff at the Patterson house, where he only feels comfortable doing it at his own house. I am not sure what else there is that you would call it, unless it is a specific fear of sitting on the same toilet that Elly has used. I could understand that and might not call it parcopresis.

In June 4th's comic, it appears that Mike has been standing outside the bathroom door while Lawrence was in there -- if he did have shy bowel, wouldn't Mike's standing outside the door make him unable to go?-

From what I have read, the level of privacy involved varies from sufferer to sufferer. The on-line literature talks about how some people have to have total isolation, as if no one is in the house with them at all. Obviously, since Connie is in the house with Lawrence on a regular basis, this is not the case with him. But how much isolation is required for him or considered the standard for parcopresis, I do not know.

Also, I'm not sure the parcopresis diagnosis fits with today's (June 5) comic, where Lawrence didn't flush the toilet. I would think that if Lawrence had a shy bowel, he would flush the toilet, and not leave the evidence there for someone else to see.-

As near as I can tell from the reading, for some people the fear of using someone else’s toilet can be related to fears of contamination from the toilet itself. I am not an expert, by any means, but I think it would depend exactly on what Lawrence’s problem is.

On the other hand, when Grandpa Jim had his stroke, Lynn Johnston played fast and loose with stroke facts; so it is entirely possible we could be seeing a similar thing here. My guess is that Lynn had some friend tell her a story about her kid doing something like this, and she partially adapted it with Lawrence, but decided to increase the gross-out factor. After all, poo is funny.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Muzition said...

Oh, okay, it makes sense now. Or about as much sense as FBOFW usually makes.

Or, as my sister Kerssido says, "It makes so much cents it makes dollars."

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where my kids went to preschool, there was a bathroom attached to every class room because many kids at ages 3 and 4 do not have great control. I suspect that kids having a poo at school is a lot more common than kids never pooing at school ever, male or female. I know for a fact, both my kids had a poo at school.

I don't really remember preschool, so I'll take your word for it. I do know that I never went #2 in kindergarten, because the bathroom was attached to the classroom and I didn't want anyone to hear me. And the way Michael and Lawrence talk and act, I refuse to believe they're in preschool. They're either overly formal sexagenarian midgets or way overly formal 10-year olds.

I also think it's possible Elly has made it clear that Lawrence is to use no more than 2 sheets of toilet paper in HER bathroom, and he's freaked out by that.

11:43 AM  
Blogger howard said...

clio_1,

I do know that I never went #2 in kindergarten, because the bathroom was attached to the classroom and I didn't want anyone to hear me. -

It sounds like your bathroom situation was very similar to my kid’s preschool. However, the important part is that this habit was completely unknown to your parents. That would put them essentially in the same situation as Connie Poirier.

And the way Michael and Lawrence talk and act, I refuse to believe they're in preschool. They're either overly formal sexagenarian midgets or way overly formal 10-year olds. -

There are lots of things off about Michael and Lawrence in preschool (it runs all day, they take a bus to it, they are allowed to run around outside and get into big fights without an adult noticing), not the least of which is the fact that in the original strip they started off in kindergarten. As for their dialogue, my running joke is that all the characters are Lynn Johnston, even the dog.

I also think it's possible Elly has made it clear that Lawrence is to use no more than 2 sheets of toilet paper in HER bathroom, and he's freaked out by that.-

That’s possible. However, Elly is notoriously inattentive when it comes to her children and the bathroom, so I doubt such a rule would ever be enforced.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, the important part is that this habit was completely unknown to your parents.

Oh, my mom knew. My dad probably did too. But since every single female in our extended family was, is, and always has been the same way, she didn't think of it as a "syndrome", or as anything unusual. I don't either, frankly. It's not debilitating or anything. It is, however, extremely boring for a comic strip. I wish they'd run over for Larry's teddy bear or something.

6:12 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home