How hard can it be to potty train a three-year old?
If you have to ask, you probably don’t really want to know.
DAY 1 — After reading some parenting magazine article about how to potty train a kid in one weekend, I decide to employ the potty training technique where you introduce the potty and then usher the kid to it every 15 minutes without fail. This is even more gruelling than I thought it would be and I get far less accomplished than I imagined in my wildest dreams. The 15-minute interval regimen doesn’t even last until lunchtime before it slowly goes to every 20 minutes, then 30. But, all in all we’re fairly successful and pottying and pleasing Mommy seem to be good motivators.
DAY 5 — Making Mommy happy? Who gives a shit? Not my preschooler. So, we hang a reward poster in the hall and my little guy gets to put a sticker on it every time he successfully gets something – anything – in that potty instead of his pull-up. Thomas stickers work better than Elmo. And, Toy Story stickers seem to work best of all. Whatever.
DAY 10 — If Mommy remembers every hour or two to tell her son to use the potty, he generally will. But, he will NOT alert her to his need to use said potty. Fine. I can hang in there. How long could this process take?
DAY 14 — After reading another theory about potty training, we decide to repeat a hundred million times each day “Pee goes in the potty,” or “poop goes in the potty.” We hear that these statements are the only ones you need and the only ones that matter. Bullshit.
DAY 23 — I read another philosophy of potty training for boys that informs me that they will use a potty “when they are each individually ready.” I am not to pressure a youngster who is not developmentally prepared for this adult endeavor. So, I feel like an ass for all the yelling I have been doing when pee and poop have ended up in anywhere but in the toilet. Clearly, I am the worst mom in America for pushing my three-year old to aim for Froot Loops in the family commode.
DAY 32 — Seriously? 32 days now? He’ll be wearing diapers at his wedding. Do I even bother to buy more pull-ups or should I just give up and put diapers on him again? Ugh.
DAY 36 — We haul out the Toy Story and Thomas-themed big-boy undies. The hope is that he wouldn’t dare crap all over Buzz Lightyear. That hope is soon lost. So is the hope of rearranging my living room couch again. It…um…should really stay right where it is on top of that carpet.
DAY 65 — We set out for family vacation to the beach. The new plan coincides with yet another theory published by another genius pediatrician. Let him be naked. He won’t just pee all over himself. Oh yeah?
DAY 66 — Okay. So, we decide not to put a pull-up or swim diaper under the swim trunks on vacation. Pull-ups only at night. For the most part, this works nicely, but we still have to be vigilant about telling him to use the bathroom. At least he will hold it until we tell him to go. But, in all this time he has not once told us that he had to go.
DAY 74 — While running around in his swim trunks, little guy says, “Mommy, I have to poop!” Victory! We rush to a toilet and he uses it properly, quickly and efficiently. We’ve done it!!
DAY 99 — Yeah… It’s day 99. We most certainly have NOT “done it.” We’re on our 477,000th package of pull-ups, I am sure.
DAY 100 — On the 12-hour ride home from the beach, the little man refuses to use the potty all day. We find him at the end of the evening, sitting happily on a completely soaked car booster, watching a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD in the car. He is drenched from the waist down. He literally drips when we take him our of the car. Thank God for leather seats.
DAY 102 — Little guy starts preschool. Surely the positive peer pressure from other trained kids will make him want to use the potty more regularly himself. Right?
DAY 109 — Little guy stinks to high heaven when I pick him up from preschool. The kids still PLAYED with you while you stunk like that?
DAY 114 — I start giving prizes (bribes) for successful pottying and dry/clean pull-ups and I start taking away privileges when the little guy sneaks off to another room to crouch down and poop in his pants. One conversation goes like this: “Do you want to play with your fire truck?” “Yes!!!” “Okay, then no pooping in your pants. Do you understand?” “Understand.” “Okay. Good.” “Mommy? I pooped.” “Okay, so you don’t want to play with your fire truck, then?” “Noooooooo!!! I dooo!!! I dooo want to play with my fire truuuuuck!!! I doooooooooooooo! Aghhhhhh!!!” “Well, I said that you could play with your fire truck only if you don’t poop in your pants.” “Aghhhhh!!! Noooo!!! I dooooooooo!!! Gimme that!!! Give it to me right noooooww!!!” “Well, we can try again tomorrow. If you stay clean and dry, you can play with it tomorrow.” You can imagine that this went on for some time. And, on Day 115, he did not manage to stay clean or dry. At one point, he peed so much, he soaked through his pull-up and pants, it dripped into his shoes and created a puddle on my hardwood floor.
DAY 129 — This all has spun widly out of control and has become a real power struggle. As he seeks autonomy, his control of his body is really the only thing in his little world he can much control anymore at all. So, he flatly refuses now to use the potty. In fact, “Please go potty and wash your hands” is now typicaly the catalyst for little guy throwing himself on the floor violently, thrashing, screaming and crying. Advice from other parents has led me to believe that ignoring a tantrum is the best methodology. But, those parents never met my kid. I think he’s better at it than their kids.
DAY 159 — Consult with little guy’s preschool teacher: a 26-year education veteran who owns her own Montessori preschool that has churned out some of the brightest scholars in our town. She assures us that his behavior is NOT abnormal, that he’s just testing his boundaries and that no kid goes to high school in diapers unless he has a developmental or medical problem. So we are to chill the fuck out.
DAY 177 — It is hard to stay chill when I have now cleaned crap out of someone else’s crack for three and a half years now. And, I have another infant in the house now, so I have two in diapers, essentially, though I specifically waited three years between their births to avoid this very thing. Awesome.
DAY 185 — I give little guy a new toy for staying dry all night. He is so excited. Ten minutes later, he throws it on the floor and screams that he doesn’t want it. He wants Skarloey, a new train. Tough break, kid.
DAY 198 — 8:00 AM: little guy tells dad he has to poop, then uses the potty all on his own to take aforementioned poop. 9:15AM: little guy pees in his pull-up. 7:30PM: little guy hides under the dining room table and poops in his pants. His play date, a sweet little girl (potty trained at age 2) lets me know he “is playing hide-n-seek. I found him. He’s under the table. He pooped.”
DAY 204 — Another article in some other magazine suggests that I should help my little man to recognize when he needs to use the toilet. Lady, he RECOGNIZES it just fine. I swear he just wants to piss me off. You got advice for that?
DAY 205 — The smell of feces is now permanently lodged in my sinuses. I will never be poo free.
DAY 210 — That’s today. You thought this was going to have a happy ending, didn’t you? You thought I was going to tell you what finally worked and I was going to get to tell you about how all of this was worth it and it has been a long journey, but that I am proud of my son and I am so happy to have been a part of helping him get closer to manhood and closer to the independence he so desperately seeks himself. Well, you must be new to this blog. My kid just told me, “I pooped ’cause I was being a bad boy. Now, come change me.” Hmmm…
Now, if you aren’t a mom, or if you don’t already know, my kid isn’t an indignant little jerkface. THREE IS JUST THE WORST AGE IMAGINAGBLE. I used to look at friends’ kids and think “God, why is he such a little shit?” Now I know. THEY ALL ARE. Don’t believe the “terrible twos” hype. If you’ve never raised a child through three-dom, you simply can’t understand One day, perhaps the Off Duty Mom blog will change from being a rant-filled, angsty bitchfest and be a rosy dialogue about how beautiful children are. When they’re 34.