Did you think I was going to give you the secret of success in potty training? HAHAHAHAHAHA! (that was hysterical laughter) Yup, fooled you, this post is about my bungling, half-arsed attempt to potty train my nearly-3-year old over the past few weeks and the key to success is something I have yet to find. I’m kind of hoping you, dear reader, might have it about you – have you checked the pockets of your other jacket? How about on your bedside table? No?
I have been wondering and hesitating for many months: should I start potty training my son? Is he ready? For a while he seemed to recognise when he needed to go, but then that faded and he seemed to revert to being completely, happily oblivious. But as his third birthday approached and that magical season of summer finally arrived I started to feel the pressure. Other mothers around me were potty training their little boys and I was still having arguments with a rather tall, strong, kicking ex-toddler who refused to have his nappy changed. We had been stuck for a while in…
PHASE 1: AWAKENING INTEREST
To introduce the idea of the toilet/potty, I did various things like putting the potty in view and encouraging him to sit on it for a bit (usually clothed as he’d refuse to take his trousers off). I’d announce that I needed the toilet, and he would eagerly follow me and watch intently what I was doing, sometimes even coming round and peering into the bowl to see what came out. Lovely.
I knew he usually needed to go at bath time, as he would often end up weeing in the bath, so I started suggesting he sit on the potty before getting in the bath. This was mostly met with a decided “No. Bath.”
We were stuck in this extremely low key phase for ages, with the Boy showing very little interest in taking things to the next stage. Then one day I tricked him into sitting on it at bath time and he did a wee and a little poo in the potty. He seemed very pleased that I was so impressed by his achievement, and this triggered a sudden leap in status for the poor old potty. He suddenly asked to go on it.
Finally, I thought. Time for…
PHASE 2: NAKED
I eyed the glorious sunshine in the garden with misgiving from behind my french windows. I knew it meant I should send the Boy out to play without any pants on, a potty placed nearby. I bit the bullet one morning and went for it. When he got up I took his nappy off and didn’t put a new one on.
“Come on, let’s go and have breakfast,” I said.
Over breakfast, the first accident happened. The next one followed soon after. I suggested he try sitting on the potty, and the success spurred him on. That first week, whenever he was mostly naked he weed on the potty or the big toilet, which he seemed to prefer. No more accidents.
However, for naps and if we went out anywhere I put him in pull-ups. As soon as they were on, he heaved a sigh of relief and forgot all about the potty. Was I just confusing him, I thought, by chopping and changing?
The other thing was that he would wait to do a poo until he had a nappy on. He just wasn’t staying on the toilet for long enough to sort that one out. In slight desperation, I introduced Rabbit. Rabbit sits on the potty while the Boy sits on the big toilet, and models how to do a poo. I think this may actually be the craziest parenting trick I have invented to date. Now, Rabbit even has a tiny, Rabbit-sized potty of his own, courtesy of Gran. Thanks to Rabbit the Boy did manage a tiny bit of success on this front, but not enough for him to stay clean.
Then two days ago, we entered…
PHASE 3: PANTS
I stumbled into this phase blind, unsure, second-guessing myself. One morning he woke up and did not want me to take his nappy off. He didn’t want to go on the toilet.
“Maybe he isn’t ready,” I thought. “Maybe I should just let him wear a nappy today if that is what he wants.”
“NO!” said Strict Judith. “You have been far too inconsistent already. Sometimes he wears nappies, sometimes he wears nothing, the poor boy doesn’t know where he’s at. Take the plunge. Commit. Put him in PANTS.”
I asked him, and he said yes, he would very much like to wear Thomas the Tank-engine pants today. Within 90 minutes he had soaked through the entire 5 pack and we were onto the Mickey Mouse pants.
Today, the same. Things hit an all-time low when I walked in the living room and stepped in something wet.
“What is this?” I asked, fearing the worst.
“Wee,” the Boy told me, quite matter of fact.
He didn’t seem at all bothered. This annoyed me so much that I broke my own cardinal rule (the only one I came up with for potty training, and it wasn’t even mine but Penelope Leach’s) and got cross. I have been trying very hard not to let him see that I care one way or another, but I think he knows.
Ironically, he had weed onto my page with notes about this very post.
SIDE EFFECTS OF POTTY TRAINING
I am at a bit of a loss now. Do I back off and try again in a few weeks? Or do I persevere and hope he will come to find the wet pants unpleasant enough to go back to the potty? If you have any wisdom, please feel free to pass it on.
In the meantime, I thought I would share a side effect of potty training that I hadn’t anticipated.
Being naked all the time means the Boy has discovered his willy. He was fiddling with it while watching TV and suddenly said: “Oh! Is a bigger! Is really big!” He seemed slightly worried at first. I assured him it would go back to normal if he stopped fiddling with it.
Then a few days later we were going out and I asked him to come over so I could put his pull ups on. “No,” was the response, “No nappy. Want-a fiddle willy. Make-a bigger.”