• On (Not) Potty-Training

    07.22.2014 / personal

    caution wet floor sign

    OK, potty-training. I’m doing it wrong, for sure. Because here’s how potty-training was explained to me:

    “It’s totally no big deal. You just hunker down for three days, OK? Do it in the summer so your kid doesn’t need to wear any pants, then set the timer for every ten minutes. Give them a Skittle every time they go successfully. Done! They’ll be potty-trained in no time.”

    And then. Here’s how it worked for me:

    DAY ONE. I get really excited about the possibility of potty-training. Bee’s interested in the toilet, and I’m interested in never changing diapers again. I get overzealous and buy big girl underwear and declare THIS DAY to be day one of our potty-training adventure. I forgo the Skittles, because for Bee, flushing the toilet (whoosh!) is reward enough. She loves that thing. Also, sugar-fueled toddler and three days of hunkering don’t equate in our house.

    So, things are moving. Two successful trips to the toilet (“It’s working!” she says) and only three messes to clean up. Bee wants to go outside, but I’m terrified of bugs crawling in her… crevices? I do not understand why potty training is easier in the summer for this reason alone, so I make a note to ask my friend later. The phone rings; it’s a neighbor. She invites us to a cookout with marshmallows, so I don’t say no, obviously. Diaper on.

    DAY TWO. So now, day two is day one. We start our day with lots of messes, mostly because I’m distracted and on a deadline and I keep saying “just a sec” to the ten minute timer until twelve minutes pass and Bee pees in the dog bowl. I have to finish this email, so diaper on. I realize how much easier it is to say “Diaper On!” then the frenetic back and forth of bathroom trips and bathtub clean-ups, so we stick with the diapers for the rest of the day.

    DAY THREE. I woke up with allergies, so let’s be honest, I gave up in the first hour. Diaper on. For the duration of the day, I second-guess the decision to potty-train in the first place. I mean, she’ll learn eventually. Shouldn’t my unwavering commitment be best channeled elsewhere, like attending summer festivals and eating four million blackberries? There’s nothing life-threatening about diapers, and hey, it’s summer. Let’s coast a bit.

    And that, friends, I realize is my thing with potty-training. Unless someone is behind me on the high dive, I do not jump. And with potty-training, you have to just dive right off. You just decide to do it, whether you’re ready or not.

    Of course, here lies the life lesson for me (oh, you knew it was coming). I’ve never been entirely comfortable calling the shots or deciding what’s best for others. My gut is a confusing place to live, and my head and heart are rarely on the same page. I’m not – in most cases – one of those intuitive mothers where I just know it’s time. And as a result, so many of my parenting decisions are reactive. Like the time Bee learned to climb out of her crib and OK, now I totally understand the big girl bed thing. Let’s do it!

    But with potty-training, there’s not really anything to push you off the high dive. There’s no big moment to react from. You just sort of jump in and try, and fail a bunch, and then succeed a little. And if you’re prone to second-guessing your decisions, it’s a rough road. Am I rushing her? Will this take forever? Will it stick? Will we scar her for trying too soon? Will we scar her for attempting too late?

    Silver lining sidenote, of course: this is the part of parenting where a husband like Ken just sparkles. For any non-immediate or non-life-threatening kind of change, I’m prone to sort of float around aimlessly, waiting for a sign (neon and flashing and not at all subtle, preferably) and Ken comes sweeping in and just makes it happen. He can teach anything. He’s like, Mister Rogers in a cooler cardigan. (Who am I kidding, there is no cooler cardigan than the one Mister Rogers wears, am I right?)

    So, anyway new strategy. Potty-training 2.0, if you will. Take a cue from King Friday Ken and just make it happen. Bite the bullet and commit. Three days, right? That’s like a blip.

    I’ll let you know how it goes.

    In the mean time, how did potty-training work for you? Help a sister out!

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