"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Friday, August 12, 2011

I peed on the potty, YAY!


Do you use a toilet?

I'm going to take a stab and say that if you're reading this that 1) you do in fact use a toilet and that 2) you generally make it to the toilet in time, without anyone's reminder or assistance (barring any illness or special circumstance).

Do you know when it was that you started using it? Do you know when your friends or coworkers or classmates started using it? Again, I'm going to take a stab and guess that you do not. Even if we *did* know, it's not something we really talk about. (Well, wait. I do know a few adults who talk about bodily functions more than is normally considered socially acceptable... but that's neither here nor there) It's just a normal, biological, every-day sort of thing that every man, woman and child takes time out of his or her day to attend to. It's of absolutely zero importance when you started doing it.

So here's what I'm wondering:

Why, when we know that it's something that everyone's going to eventually do anyway, do parents make themselves, their child, and oftentimes everyone around them crazy over the process of potty training? Why act as though it's some sort of contest? Why the pressure, the sticker charts, the rewards, the punishments, the rush? What on earth is the BIG RUSH?

I have four children. As of just a few days ago, all four of them use the toilet all day, every day. Like with anything else, it was an individual journey for each of them.

With #1, I think I got lucky... I didn't really do anything that I'd now consider "right", but I didn't really do anything I'd consider wrong either. He easily made the transition when he was around 2.5

With #2, I bungled it six ways to Sunday. He simply wasn't ready at the same age as my first. He passed three. He passed three and half. He adamantly refused to even try it. It stressed me out. I stressed HIM out. I tried many of the things I mentioned above (things I cringe to think about now): I cajoled, I bribed, I made sticker charts, I pressured. The more I pushed, the more he resisted. It wasn't until he turned four that I finally asked myself, "What am I doing?" Was his being potty trained by a certain age (which wasn't happening anyway) more important than our relationship, or more important than treating him with respect, or more important than allowing him his right to autonomy over something as personal as using the bathroom? I let go of the stress, released him of my pressure, and said what I should have said all along: He'll do it when he's ready. And very shortly after that, he did. I promised myself that if I was ever blessed with more kids, I wouldn't make the same mistakes again. And true to my word, when #3 and #4 became toddlers, I remembered what I'd learned.

Everett's been using the toilet for a good 4 or 5 years now, but since the girl is still new to whole pottying scene, I thought I'd share the intricate method that got her there while it was still fresh in my mind.


1. I waited until she was ready.

2. .... that's it. I waited until she was ready.

A few weeks ago, we forgot to buy diapers and we ran out (and when I say forgot, I mean we literally forgot, not a calculated, purposeful "forgot") I don't remember the exact circumstances, but they were such that we couldn't run out and get her more diapers at the moment, so we told her she'd need to use the toilet. And she did, all day, without a problem. After that, she still wanted her diapers, but she started to use the toilet more and more. She was proud of herself; she told me how easy it was. She started wearing underwear just as often as diapers. This past Tuesday, we all went out to an amusement park. She was all dressed, wearing underwear, and I asked her if she wanted to change before we left (she'd never left the house without a diaper before) She told me no, and I told her to let us know if she had to use the bathroom when we were there. She used their bathroom like she'd been doing it all her life, and that was that.

She's been in underwear ever since.

We bought her a new doll she's been wanting in celebration... not in a "if you keep your underwear dry, we'll buy you a baby" kind of way, but in the same way I'd bake cupcakes for my husband to celebrate a promotion, or any other life event that he's proud of. She is proud, as it's still a big deal to her. I'm celebrating that, and enjoying that, because I know it won't last long. I know that it'll just be a matter of time before she's as blasé as the rest of us. (When was the last time you heard an adult proclaim, "I peed on the potty! Yay!"?)

As much as parents can stress about it when it comes to their toddlers, and conversely take it for granted when it comes to adults, it's a milestone. One that she met easily and naturally in her own way in her own time, because she was given the space to do so.

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