Can we talk potty?
Potty training, that is. If you’re brave enough to hang with me ‘til the end, I’ll give you the most valuable potty training secret there ever was. It’s a secret that would have saved me hours of time and a whole lot of effort, had I known it a few years back.
I have three sons. When Gray, the oldest, was two years old, we bought a potty. I figured it was time because my friend’s daughter (who was the same age) was successfully potty trained.
Gray wasn’t into it. At all. So I had to come up with some strategies. A lot of strategies. Over the next year (and then some) we tried all of these…
Boot camp. Staying home for days without diapers. Bringing him to the restroom every thirty minutes to “Just try.” Watching him like a hawk in case he crawled between the couch and the wall and got into THE POSITION.
We tried being relaxed about it. Oh, you know, we’re just hanging out on the potty chair, watching Elmo’s Potty Time, reading potty books, singing potty songs, drinking gallons of potty-producing liquids. Totally chill.
Now get back on that potty right now…
We tried bribes, I mean, incentives. Reward stickers. M&M’s and lollipops. Pick your own brand new big boy undies. Hot Wheels Car Carrier staring at you from atop the refrigerator, in perfect view of the toilet in the closet-sized bathroom off the kitchen.
We tried making it fun.
Hey, let’s sink the floating Cheerio! It will be FUN!
Want to water the bush in the back yard? How SILLY would that be!?
Hey, let’s sing songs while we stand by the potty! Raindrops keep falling on our heads…
‘Kay, maybe not the best choice.
For crying out loud, we invented the Potty Dance of Joy.
At one point, we tried doing nothing. For weeks. Taking it easy. Taking a break. Possibly also called giving up.
Then, one day, Gray decided he was done with diapers. He marched on over to the potty and went. After that, he had one or two accidents and that was that. Potty trained.
He was three years, and three months old. That’s fairly old, people.
Not as old as Reed.
Everyone and their third cousin told me that the second child would SURELY train faster than the first, because he’d want to be just like his big brother.
They don’t know Reed. Reed wants to be like Reed. Reed wants all the ideas to be Reed’s ideas. He wants all the times to be Reed’s times.
He wasn’t falling for any games, bribes, or adults dancing foolishly around the kitchen island singing about potty and how it feels Oh-so-good to let it gooooo. Just let it floooooooow…
When he was three years, nine months old, something clicked for him too. We hadn’t been working on potty-training, so I guess we were using the giving-up technique. Then, just like his older brother, he decided that he didn’t want to sit in all of THAT anymore, and he potty trained. Just like that. A couple of days in, Reed was done with diapers.
My third son, Miles, turned two a few months ago. I have not even been THINKING about potty training with him. Based on past experience, I figured we had a solid five to seven years before we even started discussing, practicing, denying, angering, bargaining, depressing, and accepting.
You won’t believe what happened on Monday.
The little rascal kept tearing his diaper off because – well, you know why. He’s a boy, and he’s got work to do. (Okay, very honestly, I live in a nudist resort. Please, call before you stop by. Like, long before. Because finding everyone’s clothes can take a while, and I have to say I think it was awkward for the Schwan’s delivery man, waiting in my living room as I rummaged through the freezer trying to check if we were out of Mahi Mahi while hollering at my nude children to stop hopping around his feet in an attempt to see his handheld-computer-gizmo).
Anyway, on Monday, Miles kept removing his diaper, and I kept putting it back on. I decided right then and there that this may be my first experience in a nudist resort, but it ain’t my first rodeo, and Momma don’t play these games.
So I said to him, “If you want a bare butt, please put your pee and poop in the frog potty when it’s time to go.”
“O-tay, Mom,” he replied.
And I went back to chopping peppers.
Twenty minutes later, he came running into the kitchen, beaming.
“I DID! I DID!”
And you know what?
He DID. He actually DID! He peed on the froggy.
I was freaking out inside, but I didn’t want to scare the pants off him (wait, never mind), so I gave him a high-five and a lollipop, and hoped and prayed and prayed a bunch more that it wasn’t a one-time thing.
Then, while I was making lunch, he came running into the kitchen shouting, “I DID! I DID!” and Gray followed behind saying, “Mom, Miles left a GINORMOUS log in the potty chair. Come and see!”
And by golly, he did it AGAIN. The REALDEAL this time.
By the end of the day, he had used the potty chair six different times. He did it again this morning, and now I’m just trying to keep a good thing going!
So, my dear friends, I stand before you today to proclaim that after three little boys, and several hours, months, possibly years devoted to potty training, I’ve finally discovered the secret.
You ready for this?
POTTY TRAINING SUCCESS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.
Some secret, eh?
Alright, maybe it has a wee little teensy bit to do with me in that I needed to get a potty, mention it a bit, encourage it a bit, drop subtle hints, that whole thing.
But it was the KID’S choice. HE knew when he was ready. HE knew when it was time.
He knew when he didn’t want to sit in THAT anymore. When the toilet wasn’t a scary thing anymore. When he didn’t want to be a baby anymore.
And then, boom, just like that – potty trained.
Now, I think about ALL that time and ALL those methods – the boot camps, the bribes, the stickers, songs, books, DVD’s, prob and stats — oh my word, people!
That stuff might seem like it works because Little Ralphy starts coincidentally doing his thing while Mommy is conga-ing around the kitchen singing potty songs, and Elmo’s Potty Time is playing for the eleventh time, but truly, what probably happened is that Ralphy was ready. Plain and simple. He decided it was time to bid farewell to nappies and join the ranks of all who recognize that going alone into the bathroom and clicking the door shut behind you is a glorious and liberating thing.
I know I do.
I’m only six-ish years into this parenting thing, but I have to say, with every day that goes by, I feel a little more like they’re the ones training me. And I think I’m okay with that.
If you enjoyed this post, read more personal essay here.
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