A few months ago, I defended my decision to stop potty training by saying that quitting and failing are not the same thing. Turns out, I was right.
We are now on day five of potty training, for the third time. At 17 months, my kids did not even understand what the potty was. They pushed them around as toys and tried to take them apart and put them back together like puzzles. At 24 months, they understood that mommy would like them to urinate in this small chair, instead of in their diapers, on the floor, on the couch, behind the stroller. They understood, but they didn’t care. Four months ago, my role changed from stay at home mom to stay at home pee-pee picker-upper. Not very glamorous. Not very good for the back or the self esteem either.
I would ask them, “Do you have to go shee shee?”
“No,” they would lie. Then I’d inevitably find the puddle ten minutes later. It was spirit breaking.
After an entire month of this torture for both me and them, I packed it in. The potties went back into the bathroom from whence they came. I never mentioned them again, and neither did the babies after a few days. They happily went back to diapers, and I happily went back to pee-free life. Until last week.
I took the potties out of hiding and left them in the living room (that’s where we train – apparently nothing is so satisfying as pooping while watching Dora). I didn’t say anything about them. The babies ignored them. After a few days of that, I started mentioning the potties off-handedly every once in a while.
“Oh, you went shee shee? Do you want to try on your potty?”
The answer was always no. Until it was yes. Five days ago, the answer was yes, and we haven’t looked back since. There have been no accidents. Not one. I’m still reeling from the fact that I’ve not had to clean up any unsanitary messes since the start of this new bout of potty training.
I’ve kept it low key this time. The babies sleep, both at night and during naptime, in diapers. When they wake up, I change their diapers. I do not leave them pantless. When they are ready, they will tell me, and we take the diapers off. This way, if they forget about using the potty, they’re pee protected. At this point, they completely understand that they don’t have to be wet and will demand I take their diapers off after they go. Then they refuse to wear a diaper again until they’ve gone in the potty. If I try to put a diaper back on, they tell me they have to shee shee first.
Potty training does not have to be painful. Apparently, it doesn’t even have to be messy. Don’t try before your child is ready. They’ll get it when the time is right for them. Trying to conform to society’s ideal will only make the process miserable. If your kid is trained at 18 months, congratulations! You will be able to brag to your friends and family, and you clearly have a genius baby (in that one area). If your children aren’t trained until 28 months, like mine, or three, or even four, congratulations! You have an awesome kid who knows when he is ready to move on to the next stage of life and learning. There are so many avenues in which to be proud of your child. If early potty training isn’t one of them, I’m betting your child has dozens of other traits and talents that make him the special snowflake you deserve.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is not to define my children based on only one area of development. Where one is lagging, another is soaring. Concentrate on the success.
Of course, while the training has marketedly improved this time around, the potties have not. You can’t win them all, I guess.
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