You guys. Potty training. WTF.
How is this a thing that people just do and don’t really talk about? I mean I know people write books and blogs and essays and all that about it (OH BELIVE ME, I know, I read like, I think all of them). But how do I have a bazillion mom friends with successfully potty trained kids that never said anything about it. They never complained, or lamented about the potty training days, or said things like “just wait, potty training will be worse” when I complained about god know’s what other difficult parenting feat.
I think maybe part of it is that potty training is a. gross and b. personal. In all senses of the word. But in particular I mean personal as in “we all do it differently and believe very strongly that the way we do it is the RIGHT way.” At first I was going to equate it to the breastmilk vs. formula or epidural vs. natural debate but – it’s not really the same because those things are personal but that doesn’t seem to stop anybody (myself included) from blathering on about them incessantly and self-righteously.
So maybe it’s the combination of personal and gross that makes people just kind of do it and then move on and try to forget it ever happened.
Well, I can’t do that. I know, I know – you’re shocked. But, it’s just too crazy to experience this and not blather on about it incessantly and self-righteously. SO… here’s your parental warning. If pee and poop on your bare hands and a dog that licks pee out of a toilet bowl make you want to throw up – stop here. And don’t have kids.
Mia’s Potty Training Weekend Adventure
This past weekend I decided to potty train Mia. I am well aware that you can’t completely potty train a 2 year old in one weekend BUT you never know right?
Just kidding. Sort of.
Anyway I figured a weekend devoted to at least getting Mia familiar with using the potty and recognizing when she was peeing/pooping would be a good start. The following weeks will be devoted to enforcing what she’s learned and gaining an increasing amount of potty independence.
While ideally I would have liked to do one of those 10 day totally trained plans (I took an online personality test this morning and confirmed I am a “git ‘er done” personality type), since I can’t stay home with Mia for 10 days in a row – that was out. So I sort of mashed together a bunch of different training techniques I had read about and winged it. Which is pretty much my overall parenting philosophy, anyway.
So this was the plan:
Step 1: Roll up the rugs, get rid of diapers (except for nighttime) and put Mia in “big girl” underwear and let her loose – in our house/yard.
Step 2: When she pees on the floor say in a firm but not angry voice, “whoops – Mia you peed on the floor! We don’t pee on the floor, we pee in the potty. Let’s go sit on the potty.”
Step 3: Do the laundry (repeat this step every 15 minutes).
Step 4: Invest in Brawny Paper Towels.
Step 5: Follow Mia around EVERYWHERE and learn to notice her “potty signs.” When she starts to make the signs (i.e. when pee starts dripping down her leg) rush her over to the potty and catch the rest.
Step 6: Cheer wildly as if she just won the AFC Championship, reward with a marshmallow or sticker and resume “normal activity.”
NOTE: Normal activity means staying inside your house or yard 24/7 for the entire weekend. I literally did not leave my property for a full 48 hours. Try not to go completely insane.
Here’s how things actually went.
Step 1: Mia cries and runs away because she “no want to wear big undies.” Agree to let her go naked, watch her straddle the rolled up rug and panic that she’s peeing on it. She is determined, this little one. (Nevermind all the dust on our living room floor…)
Step 2: When she pees on the floor try to hide your incredible disappointment that she isn’t going to beat the odds and magically potty train in 5 minutes based on the speech I gave her about using the potty and earning marshmallows.
Step 3: Peel off pee-soaked undies 14,756 times.
Step 4: Wipe up pee with your bare hands. Try to remember to wash them. Try not to throw up when the dog beats you to the task.
Step 5: Try to figure out potty patterns and signs. Then give up and walk through the house over and over looking for pee puddles.
Step 6: Drag Mia to the potty every 15 minutes to “read a book.” When she pees (or maybe it was water from her water bottle dripping into the toilet) cheer wildly and attempt to convince yourself that this is a success.
Step 7: Put Mia down for a nap early since diapers are allowed for nap time and mommy needs a break from swimming in piss.
Sounds miserable, right?
Now, I know this is the point where many of the experienced parents of potty trained toddlers say “maybe she’s just not ready. You should wait until she shows you she’s ready.”
Here’s the thing, though.
She’s two and she speaks in full sentences. She can climb a rock wall and pick the lock on her bedroom door. If she can’t learn to piss in the damn toilet then HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
Anyway I know this is a touchy subject and one of those things that everyone has to just do their own way. If you want to wait until your kid ASKS to use the potty, then good for you. I would venture to guess potty training will be much easier for you. BUT – you will spend more money on diapers, and your kid won’t be accepted to the Montessori preschool that is 5 minutes from your house, and you might end up having to run your toddler to the potty 75,000 times the exact week your new baby is born. Also, your kid might not ask to use the potty until they are 3 or 4 or 5 (apparently 3 is now the average age that kids potty train) and then you are up against a wall (known as the Kindergarten intake form) and the last thing you need when potty training is to be up against anything.
Since those are all risks I am just not willing to take, we forged ahead despite the incredible mess/frustration.
Day two looked a lot like day one from the start. By naptime, I was about ready to throw in the towel and/or strap Mia onto the toilet and just leave her there.
I think God/Mother Nature/Mia could sense my desperation and miraculously – when I went to get Mia up from her nap her diaper was dry and she said “mommy, I’m pooping.”
I had learned by this point that that was Mia-Speak for “I need to (or I’m about to) go pee.” I whisked her off to the potty and…
I pretty much lost my mind with excitement. I called Dan upstairs to look at it. I took a picture of it (and later deleted it because even I felt like maybe that was crossing the line). I jumped up and down and gave Mia 15 high fives and a full size marshmallow. (NOTE: We later transitioned to mini marshmallows and stickers after it was clear she had figured out our little game and started pounding water and peeing one drop at a time to maximize her marshmallow winnings.)
After that it was on. With the exception of a couple drops that missed the potty due to unfortunate timing, the rest of Mia’s bodily functions for the entire day were deposited IN THE POTTY.
Now, I’m not gonna lie. The kid is not miraculously potty trained in 2 days.
If I don’t follow her around and remind her to use the potty I’m pretty sure I’ll be back to wiping up excrement. And when she goes to daycare tomorrow and wears pull-ups, she’s probably going to pee in them because, well, it’s highly convenient to be able to pee on the go.
She knows, now. She understands the concept and she’s capable of telling someone when she has to pee and going on the potty. She even pooped on the potty! It’s the first step in a long journey that I know will be one step forward and two steps backs but if I’ve learned anything in my two years of parenting it’s that you better celebrate the one step forward or else all of your blog followers will think you’re a bad pessimist parent who is incapable of feeling the joy of parenthood.
If someone told me 3 years ago (heck, 3 months ago) that I would feel legitimately elated (I’m talking, euphoric) about a plastic bowl full of urine, I would have thrown up on their shoes.
But, that’s parenthood for you. Always full of surprises.
Some of them more sanitary than others.
P.S. Thank you thank you thank you to my friend and co-worked Katarina who was my advisor and cheerleader throughout this entire potty-training weekend, and without whose enthusiasm I definitely would have thrown in the pee-soaked towel. Also, she has a potty trained 16-mo old SO if you need potty training advice, don’t call me unless you’re asking for her number.
And now, a much less exciting 14 week update, an itty bitty bump and some pictures from my trip to Bar Harbor:
How far along? 14 weeks
Total weight gain: I had gained a pound over my 3 day work trip to Bar Harbor, but then lost it +1 more after returning home and resuming all-day nausea.
Maternity clothes? yep to the yes to the hell yea
Stretch marks? I’m going to just take this question out for next time.
Sleep: Tossing and turning, mostly from the nausea.
Best moment this week: Going for a run in Bar Harbor (it’s amazing what a little sleep and time away from your toddler will do to your drive to exercise)
Miss Anything? Not feeling nauseous
Movement: Not yet.
Food cravings: Nope, unless you count lifesavers to fend off morning sickness.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Yes, being pregnant.
Gender: Finding out (hopefully) on 9/29.
Labor Signs: Nooooo
Symptoms: Did I mention I feel sick pretty much all the time?
Belly Button in or out? In, for now.
Wedding rings on or off? On.
Happy or Moody most of the time: Depends on which part of the potty training adventure we’re talking about.
Looking forward to: Trimester numero dos.