Potty training. Two words that send chills down every parent’s back. There are many hurdles in this crazy journey of parenthood and this one is a biggie.
You know before you even begin that it’s going to stink (no pun intended). The combination of the words training, toilets, toddler, urine and feces pretty much sounds like a cruel and unusual punishment.
As Owen approached 2 ½, I knew the time was coming for potty training. But Owen didn’t show much interest in the toilet. Walking around with a diaper loaded with crap and piss did not seem to bother him. He felt no need to let us know when he peed or pooped. I knew we were f**ked.
But despite the sense of impending doom and the fact that he showed zero signs of readiness, we decided to go ahead and just do this potty training thing. Because that’s how we roll. We just want to get the shitty stuff over and done with (no pun intended).
Back when Owen was like 18 months old, I used to think that I would read books about potty training and then I’d pick a method that would be best for our family and we’d be super prepared and knowledgeable and we’d follow a very well thought out and deliberate plan. Ha. Yeah, when we decided to “just do it,” the only preparation we did was skim a very brief article in Parents magazine and buy a couple packs of training underwear. Oh, and a bag of M&M’s.
Then, the following Saturday morning, we simply took off Owen’s diaper and put on the training underwear. The plan: sit him on the potty every hour or so until it seemed like he could make it longer stretches.
Exactly a half hour after the underwear were put on, Owen yelled “I’m peeing!!” Accident #1. Shit just got real.
After Richard went and put fresh training underwear on Owen, he excitedly ran to me and announced “I crapped my pants!” Excuse me, WTF?? We haven’t even been doing this potty training thing for an hour and you already shit your pants??? And you’re laughing and smiling about it?? I quickly checked his underwear. No poop. And then I realized he was saying “I’m Captain Underpants!” not “I crapped my pants!” Oops. (Sorry, buddy. Maybe work on your pronunciation and we won’t have this problem.)
But then about an hour later, I looked over at Owen sitting on the couch and noticed a large growing wet spot underneath his butt. Accident #2. Thank god for sofa covers.
This continued the rest of the morning and afternoon. I began to think maybe Owen wasn’t ready. Maybe it was time to put the diaper back on and try again in a few weeks.
But we didn’t give up and I’m glad we didn’t. Things started to improve. We switched Owen to regular underpants (because we ran out of clean training underwear) and it was surprisingly helpful. He could more easily notice that he was wet from an accident in plain old Superman underwear. Plus, we could tell him not to pee on Superman. (“Superman can’t get wet, Owen. His super powers won’t work if he gets peed on!!)
By the end of the first day, the constant accidents had stopped. A few days later, he started to say “I’m peeing!” before he actually peed. By the end of the first week, he finally learned to say “I have to go to the potty!” Thank you, Jesus.
The M&M incentive really started working during that first week. Maybe too well. Now he just thinks about candy and suddenly he says he has to pee. I know that he doesn’t really have to pee; my master manipulator just wants a piece of chocolate. But I gotta take him to the bathroom anyway because what if he actually does have to go?? The little smartass knows he’s got me cornered. Then he squeezes out like two miniscule drops of pee and demands an M&M and two candy corns. And I realize that I’m no more than a pawn in this parenting game and Owen just got a checkmate. And then I eat a handful of M&M’s because sometimes Mommy needs an incentive too.
So, after over a month of Owen using the potty, here are my conclusions:
Kids are weird.
After doing his business in the potty, Owen regularly asks “Can I see it? Can I touch it?” Ummm. It’s brown, smelly and unpleasant looking. Why the hell would you want to touch it? Owen also likes privacy while dropping the kids off at the pool. He points to the door and says “Go out THERE! Shut the door!” A few minutes later, I hear him yelling “I’m DOOOONNNEEE!” and he lets me back in. Sometimes he likes to get completely undressed just to take a leak, even though I rationally explain that there’s no need to take your t-shirt off to empty your bladder. My deduction from all this? Kids are strange.
Public restrooms are disgusting.
Unfortunately, you will have to go in public restrooms while potty training. Enough said.
I still have to wipe butts.
And it’s still not pretty. Actually, it might be worse. Something about the task feels even more dirty and cumbersome now that he’s bending over and not laying down for a diaper change. I can’t wait to hear him say “But I wipe my own ass!” I also can’t wait until he can go to the bathroom on his own in the middle of the night, because waking up to your toddler yelling “I have to pee NOW!!!” at 2am is just not cool. (And FYI, Owen, we still put a diaper on you at bedtime, so you don’t need to go to the potty. Just pee in your diaper and let me sleep, thanks.)
I will never get used to “the penis.”
Yeah, it’s not going to happen. The penis makes me nervous and always will. Every time I take Owen to the bathroom, I’m afraid I’m going to get piss shot in my face (rightfully so, because it has happened). I frantically yell “Keep your penis down! Down!!” But that thing is so uncontrollable and flapping all over the place. The pee inevitably ends up somewhere other than the inside of the toilet bowl. Owen’s fascination with his package doesn’t help. He wants to pull it, point it at me and run around with it hanging loose. A couple weeks ago after Owen just got off the potty, I said “Stop touching your penis, Owen.” Without pausing he responded “I’m a big boy now. I’m supposed to touch my penis.” WTF? Thank goodness my second kid is a girl.
Obviously, it’s kind of hard to capture photos while potty training (between trying to keep the penis down and making sure nothing indecent is in the frame, it’s pretty much impossible). But here are a few moments from the bathroom.