And you thought the magic word was “please.” Or maybe “thank you,” or even “abracadabra.”
Actually, the magic word is … “underpants.” I kid you not. Put 100 kids in a room, yell “underpants,” and you will have the giggling-but-undivided attention of 97 of them. It’s been scientifically proven.
Just look at the undying popularity of Dav Pilkey’s oh-so-silly “Captain Underpants” series. Twenty years and 12 — count ’em, 12 — books beloved of American elementary school (mostly, but not all) boys. And now there is a movie, an honest-to-goodness, $7- to $10-a-pop feature film.
The “underpants response” is, of course, a good thing, because it shows that a child is learning proper social norms. Adults don’t generally discuss their underpants in job interviews, and when kids laugh in embarrassment at public use of the word, it means they get that. Yay!
Your children aren’t old enough for “Captain Underpants?” (The books are recommended for ages 7 to 10; the movie is rated PG).
Not to worry. Potty-training and the magic word go together like legumes and gas. Here are a few titles to bring on the giggles:
“Veggies with Wedgies” by Todd H. Doodler. Farmer John leaves his underpants on the clothesline. His garden veggies are fascinated. They try to figure out what to do with them. Hilarious.
“Bear in Underwear” by Todd H. Doodler. A bear finds a backpack in the woods full of brand-new undies, so he and his amazed animal friends have a dress-up party.
Todd H. Doodler (“Bear in Underwear” author) teams with author Harriet Ziefert in “Goodnight Underwear” — a very funny homage to the Margaret Wise Brown classic.
“Vegetables in Underwear” by Jared Chapman. Very silly celebration of all possible states and varieties of underpants. The companion book, “Fruits in Suits” is a goofy tribute to swim suits.
“Monster’s New Undies” by Samantha Berger. Illustrated by Tad Carpenter. A disgruntled little monster on a rhymed jaunt to a gigantic underwear store.