Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Fun With Potty-Training

The time has come for potty training. You don’t realize how difficult it is to convince someone to stop soiling themselves until you really have to put it into practice. Here I am, a grown man, attempting to convince my son that he should willingly trade the convenience of being able to relieve himself at will and have someone else clean him for the physical discomfort of delaying his bodily egresses and cleaning himself. Even as I make the argument I am not sure that I really believe it. The best response I could muster if asked “Why do I have to potty train?” would be something vague about societal norms and the ongoing financial burden of diapers.

Despite all of this, we purchased a special toilet seat, some officially licensed Disney underwear, and 2 pounds of M&Ms. The idea was that each time our son successfully utilized the toilet he would receive a treat. Although I knew better, some part of me expected the entire process to take place over a 2 minute conversation:

Son, you have reached the age where you are cognitively able to defer your bowel movements and your mother and I would like you to do so from this point forward. As a reward, you will be given name brand chocolates. Does you find this agreeable?

Yes father. That is a perfectly reasonable request. Shall I also refrain from screaming NO! and begin eating my vegetables with gusto?

Of course, my son had several demands. The most important being that he wished to “see big poo-poo” before it begins its voyage through the municipal sewer system. He also wished to be allowed at least one square of toilet paper per urination. The problem is that to amass more toilet paper he will force himself to stop mid-stream so that he can count each intermission as a new session. This leads to the type of ridiculous negotiations all too familiar for those with a toddler:

I pee-pee! Toilet paper!

Okay son, you can have one square.

I pee-pee again! More toilet paper!

That was a dribble at best and you nearly gave yourself a hernia producing it.

But more pee-pee……..

Fine, you get half a square but no more until I see an unbroken urine-stream.

Since we began, my wife and I have been second-guessing ourselves on timing. Some people have commented that he was ready for it months ago (we just potty-trained Timmy during weaning) while others will tell you that you are only frustrating yourself if they are not ready (they wouldn’t make size 6 Pampers if no one wore them) . To paraphrase George Costanza, we want our son to rest in the meaty part of the curve; not showing off, but not falling behind either.So far we have had a few accidents and there are just days where he feels overwhelmed and says, “No big boy underwear today.” 

In a cruel bit of irony, it seems that for every step closer we get to potty training my son, the more frequently my daughter poops in the tub.I have begun building in an extra 20 minutes or so on bath night in order to evacuate and sanitize the tub with bleach. There is nothing quite as terrifying as clearing a bathtub full of water toys. Every time I flip a boat over there is a distinct possibility that I will be confronted by a stowaway. It is the worst aquatic shell game ever. 

Most of the experts agree that you should exemplify the habits and behavior you wish to see in your children. For that reason, I have started eating M&Ms after each successful trip to the restroom. 

If this doesn't work I may have to revisit "Elimination Communication." 

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