A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to start potty training my toddler. She was showing all this signs of being ready -- waking up from nap with a dry diaper, telling me when she was pooping, and being freakishly interested in my all-access trips to the restroom. It has been a while since I last taught an irrational 2-year-old to stop peeing whenever and wherever, so I scoured the internet, re-read my old baby parenting books, and asked my mom friends for pointers. Here is the ridiculous advice I received. Even crazier, is that some of it actually worked.
1.) No Pants? No Problem!
Dr. Google said to offer your little one a variety of liquids, let them run around naked, and rush them to the restroom when they show signs that they need to urinate. Such signs include dropping their rear between their legs, tugging at their privates, and stopping mid-activity because they suddenly feel the urge to go. So, in summary, I am pumping a naked wild woman full of drinks and watching for her to grab her middles and drop it like it’s hot. It’s basically the set of a rap music video at my house. This is not at all what I imagined when I looked down at that perfect 8 pound newborn miracle and dreamt of our future toddler days together. But, who am I to argue with the internet?
2.) Positive Reinforcement
A common thread of advice in many Facebook mommy groups is to offer incentives such as candy, stickers, and lots of praise when they pee in the potty. Okay! Can do! The first time I heard that beautiful sound of urine hitting the toilet water, I clapped my hands and screamed like a contestant on The Price is Right! Come on down! She did it! I yell for the whole family to gather in the restroom. Everyone ohhs and ahhs. There is a roar of applause. I dance. She gets skittles. We FaceTime grandma. It’s a whole production. This is fun. (The first 39 times.) But then, it becomes a problem. Every single time she doesn’t pee in the floor she expects a full scale SuperBowl Halftime Show. Naahhh Girl! This is not how life works. I am setting her up for failure. Welcome to the real world! You aren’t met with treats and accolades every time you do the right thing. You’re not going to get a new outfit every night you make it home by curfew. Dad’s not buying you a car because you didn’t rob a bank. Can’t you just poop in the potty cause it’s the right thing to do?
3.) Accidents Happen!
Don't overreact. Be patient! Whatever you do, don’t yell or reprimand your child when they have an accident. This will discourage them from the process. Be a steady and calm presence. Simply remind them in a neutral voice that we use the toilet when we need to go potty. (Insert eyeroll here.) I’m supposed to respond to her taking a leak on my shoe with a smile and a, “thats okay, baby!”?? WHO IS WRITING THIS STUFF? I bet 75% of so-called parenting experts don’t even have kids. My little princess will look me dead in the eye and tell me she doesn’t have to pee, and 2 minutes later I am falling flat on my rump after slipping in a fresh puddle of urine. I can’t have a poker face when I discover that my daughter just squatted on my front door welcome mat and shat a mound that resembles the fecal matter of an elephant. “Be patient! It takes time, but they will get there!” I found these sage words of wisdom in a Christian parenting book. Look, I love Jesus. I understand that patience is a Fruit of the Spirit, but at this point, unless that fruit is growing in a vineyard, I’m just going to have to pray about it tomorrow. My patience is gone! STOP PEEING IN MY HOUSE, YOU LITTLE DEMON!
4.) Put Them in Underwear
Some dumb mom in our playgroup told me to put my little girl in panties, and then put a diaper on over the panties. If she has an accident, there will be no mess in my floor, plus, she will be so uncomfortable from the wet fabric that she will actually want to use the potty. Whatever! My kid don’t care! She is not a connoisseur of comfort. I have seen her sit on a remote control helicopter to watch an entire episode of Doc McStuffins. She will go hours with jelly caked on her face. When she falls asleep in her carseat her head literally comes unattached from her neck and her nose hangs down past her little baby nipples. She doesn’t feel a thing! You really think a little pee in her panties is going to cause her to straighten up and live right?
5.) Just Wait!
Another Judgy Judy, told me not to stress. “Your little girl is actually too young to force potty training. Let them be little! Wait until she is 100% ready.” First of all, Judy, they will never be “ready” for you to interrupt their riveting daily schedule of pulling all the tupperware out of the cabinet and scavenging couch cushions for old cheerios. They will never be “ready” to be picked up against their will and forced to sit on a cold porcelain torture device 12 times a day. Second of all, since I have done this before, I know for a fact that Judy is playing a cruel trick on me. The minute my cherub blows out the candles at their 3rd birthday party, the whole vibe will change. Suddenly, its all, “They aren’t potty trained?!? Bless your heart!!” And by the way, they forgot to mention that your little one is not allowed in the three-year-old class at daycare unless they are fully out of diapers. Boom! Gotcha! Write your name in the burn book, because you’ve been had by the mean moms.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we have experienced a modern day miracle! She is getting it! Our hard work, and possibly some of this seemingly useless advice, is paying off. Sure, we still have some mishaps and accidents. I’m keeping her in diapers when we leave the house because I just know she’s waiting until I am at my most vulnerable to pay me back for stopping the Skittle bribes. She would probably love nothing more than to leave a steady stream behind my shopping cart at Publix. Public embarrassment is my least favorite form on unsolicited attention, and I’m not ready to risk it. She is also still sleeping in diapers because I’m not about to be awakened in the middle of the night to change sheets when Pampers are less than 30 cents a piece. But, we are getting there!