Potty Training. Or not.

by Jen on February 24, 2009

in Lowering the bar for mothers everywhere,The Boys in the Wood

Monkeyboy is not, at over three years old, potty trained.

I’m not as embarrassed as I would have previously thought I’d be to admit that. Knowing him as I do, I realized long before he had reached a reasonable age that convincing him to eschew diapers in favor of the potty wouldn’t be easy. This was a kid who would (and still will) hide in order to fill his diaper and then lie about it when asked. Who will stare at us blankly when his dad tells him, “Dude… you stink.” Who will run from us yelling, “I don’t want to change my diaper!”

With an exhausting pregnancy followed by an exhausting new baby, I can’t say I made much of an effort. I’ve operated under a general laissez faire “Hey, no one goes to high school in diapers, do they?” attitude.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve done nothing. When he was about 18 months old we introduced the idea of a potty. I bought one and put it in his bathroom. Then my sister-in-law gave us her old potty seat for the big people potty. Then I bought another potty for our bathroom. I bought parenting books about potty training for me to glance through and then put on the shelf without a second look read. I bought books on using the big boy potty for Monk. I bought Elmo’s Potty Time. We rented other potty videos from Netflix. We talked about it. A lot. We discussed the idea of bribes rewards.

When potty time came, Monkeyboy sat on the potty, but nothing happened. He just didn’t get it. Just like the book said, “He sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat…”

And nothing happened and I got bored and gave up.

Yep, that’s it. He resisted and in my weakened I’ve-already-got-too-much-to-do state, I caved. How’s that for lousy parenting? Since he spends five days a week in daycare, I don’t have to deal with the majority of his diapers. And poop?* Ahem. He’s not the most regular kid, if you catch my drift, so it was kind of like a bodily-function-Russian-roulette. It is entirely possible for me to go literal weeks without having to deal with one of his poopy diapers. So it was easy to slack off.

Plus, the enablers? If I had the proverbial dollar for every mom who told me things like “Boys are harder to train” or “My sons weren’t potty trained until they were well over four years old” or some old saw like that, I could hire someone to change his diapers until high school if that did become necessary.

But all that those moms were offering were excuses, not diaper changes, so as of two weeks ago, I’d officially had it. He wakes up dry. He stays dry for hours on end. He knows when to sneak off to, you know… do what he’s gotta do. I seized the moment and, against the advice in all the books, set him (screaming) on the potty. When he cried that he didn’t want to sit there — clearly because he didn’t want to miss a minute of the damn Backyardigans — I took off his diaper and pants and said,”

“Okay, go watch T.V.”

The look on his face was one of utter consternation. He stood there in his t-shirt with his bare ass, considering what I had said. “But I want my diaper on.”

“Why?” I asked, feigning ignorance.

“Because I want to… I want to go to the bathroom.”

“Then you can sit on the potty and go there, or you can go watch T.V. But you are not going in a diaper and you had better not go on my floor.”

After appealing to his father, he compromised to sit on the potty while watching television.** (Thank god I have hardwood floors!)

After about twenty minutes, I heard the distinct sound of tinkling. Again, the look on Monk’s face was priceless. He was truly, purely, honestly amazed.

“Hey! I’m peeing in the potty!”

It was a Helen Keller moment. Remember The Miracle Worker? “W-a-t-e-r. Water!” Finally, it clicked. I practically saw the frickin’ light bulb come on over his head.

Since then, he’s been batting… hell, I don’t know. Batting averages never made any fucking sense to me. What’s like, hitting the ball 90% of the time? While he’s been in underpants, he’s been dry. But I don’t always trust him, depending on the circumstances (like in the car or watching T.V. on my bed) and when he wears a pull-up, sometimes he remembers to go in the potty and sometimes he decides he’s too busy doing other things and would just as soon go in the pull-up. I try to remind him — a lot — but have learned to tell him to go, rather than ask him if he needs to go.

And poop?*** Since he doesn’t go regularly, it’s been more of a challenge, which those damn enabling moms had told me it would be anyway. Dedicated vigilance on my part watching for signs of when he needs to go, and the willingness on his part to sit on the potty for up to an hour (I kid you not) while watching television, has added up to 100% accuracy. So far.

We have a long way to go for sure, but from where I sit, I call this a slacker mom win.

*What’s a mommy-blogging post without some poop talk?
**More on his television addiction some other time.
***See *.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ragtopday February 24, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Absolutely it’s a win! And for what it’s worth, in your circumstances I probably would have done things very similarly. Honestly, as you’re finding out, the early months of having a potty trained child are very stressful because you constantly have to remind/tell them to go, worry about how long you’ll be away from an accessible toilet and all that. But kudos to you and him for the breakthrough – it will get easier….

2 ragtopday February 24, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Oh, and as for batting averages, they’re basically a percentage in decimal point form. So if he’s going 90% of the time, he’s batting .900. Which any major league hitter would kill for (or is already juicing for).

3 jen @ negative lane February 24, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Okay, NOW batting averages make sense. I guess I just never asked anyone to explain them before.I suppose I probably could’ve figured that out based on the expression “batting a thousand” but of course, I suck at math.

4 Jenni February 26, 2009 at 1:14 pm

hilarious post, jen! hellen keller moment, bawhahahah!but, congrats on the practically potty trained kid. i’m jealous.

5 Tony March 8, 2009 at 9:39 am

When Sofia was about 2 years and 4 months (after the holidays, seemed like a good time to start), we started with the potty. Daycare wanted us to just send her in underwear. Being the person who was going to have to deal with the 6 loads of laundry per day in that scenario, I resisted at first. After a few months of next to no progress, I finally gave in. After a week, she was consistently “going” on the potty.Lesson learned. Daycare has a little experience with this sort of thing. Should have shut my mouth and listened to them. Borrowing on the baseball theme, I felt like Nuke in Bull Durham. Kept shaking off the signs of the expert, got burned. Now, I just give the big nod in agreement.

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