Potty Training: The Long Haul

We’ve been potty training one or both children for more than four years. When Graham was about 13 months old, he started showing interest in the potty. Since I was an enthusiastic rookie parent, I bought him a potty and the required potty training videos and books. This temporary insanity was fueled by a few things. We had just moved across the country, The Doctor was busy in his new lab, and I was bored, bored, bored. As a more seasoned parent, I realize now that busy toddlers are interested in everything and just because he liked playing in the car, he wasn’t ready to drive.

 We didn’t seriously start training until he was closer to two. He did pretty well at first, mostly because I let him park that potty in front of the TV and showed Potty Power and Elmo’s Potty Time on repeat. At this point I was pregnant with Lily, and was busy with my head in the toilet, so he would have been watching TV anyway. May as well roll the toilet indoctrination into it. After my morning sickness subsided and the television was turned off, we started a three day potty training program. He was nowhere near trained in those three days, but I sure was more focused. We got rid of pull ups, and I was much more aware of his cues. Except for that one time that I don’t want to tell you about. Okay, fine…

 We were in the greeting card section of Target; Graham in the cart (I haven’t lived on the East Coast long enough to call it a carriage) pointing out cards with animals on them, while I looked at about 574 cards looking for just the right one. He announced, “I went pee.” I told him it was okay, and to just remember to tell me next time. A woman in the same area as us gave us a pretty strange look, but Graham was adorable and I was pretty pregnant, so I didn’t think about it. Not until we got to the car did I realize he wasn’t wearing a pull up. He had peed on himself, in the cart, and probably on the floor of the greeting card aisle. I was mortified, of course, and didn’t know what to do. Go back in and let someone know? Offer to clean it up? Call in an anonymous tip? Move? Ultimately, I realized that the woman probably wasn’t staring at Graham’s blond curls, but instead the dripping mess and my stellar parenting skills. She would alert an employee, right? I took an antibacterial wipe that violated shopping cart, and headed home like a coward. That certainly wasn’t the only public accident, but it was by far the worst. Maybe that’s why I spend so much money at that Target. It’s guilt money.

 Then Lily was born. I was not as focused, the TV got turned back on, and we backslid a bit. He spent the next year or so in a state of what I can only call “kind of potty trained.” With preschool looming, we needed to get back on track. By the start of school in the fall, he was pretty much trained. Two years later, and he’s still pretty much trained. He’s not dry at night, and he still waits too long to go during the day. His trips to the bathroom are always a mad dash, frequently with a stream so strong it shoots all over the bathroom like a fire hose. He has at least one accident a week, more if we’re doing something fun. His sister is no better. She waits until she has to pee so badly she can’t even move. She stands in one spot, bent over, legs crossed until I pick her up and run her to the bathroom. She also pees about five times an hour. At least she’s dry at night. Lily was much easier to potty train than Graham. Maybe it’s because she’s a girl, or because she had an older sibling to watch, or because I had a better handle on the situation. I don’t know. What I do know is that at our house we talk about pee and poop A LOT. Where, when, size, shape. Lily declares hers a family poop. As in, “Look! That’s a daddy one! Oh, and look at the little baby one!” Have I mentioned that we only have one bathroom? The kids think it’s hilarious when they “stink up the place.” They didn’t learn that from me.

 I know that not everyone’s kids have as many accidents as mine, and that having accidents isn’t a huge deal. I’m thankful that my kids poop in about five seconds, rather than long, drawn out bathroom sessions, and I know that night time training can take quite a long time for some kids. Does it annoy me? Of course. Especially when it means we have to leave fun places because someone had two accidents, and we run out of spare clothes. What I wish, is that my children would heed my advice to listen to their bodies and just go already! Quit doing the potty dance and GO POTTY! But who am I to talk? I’ve had to go the whole time I’ve been writing this post.

One thought on “Potty Training: The Long Haul

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