Our boy Max, who is three, is our second child; our second round at this potty training business. The first round was about 6 years ago now, and more of a faint memory. What I remember of the experience was that I had timed it for when I would be on holiday, I showed our daughter Stella some Dora the Explorer underwear as bait, I covered the sofa with a towel and there was only one accident that I can recall. Easey-peasy, right? Right.
Now, it’s Max’s turn. Hubby is on holidays, so he’s been “promoted” to primary on this mission.
However, first things first, we needed some underwear. And I wanted to buy the underwear. I don’t know why … but this seemed like an important thing that I wanted to do. It’s a bit nonsensical, I know. But I really wanted to pick out the underwear. So I took a trip to Zellers’ on the way home from work and picked up some underwear with the characters from his favourite movie Cars. The fun underwear worked for one child, so I figured it would work for the other.
Sure enough, Max was quite intrigued by the underwear and after showing him that’s what Daddy wears, and Grampa wears, he was game to give them a go. Once they were on, I think he found them far more comfortable than hot diapers and he was hooked.
But (you knew there was going to be a “but” didn’t you?) it didn’t quite go like it did with Stella. He would do his business in the underwear and then tell us it was time for potty. We were going to need to work on this timing thing a bit more.
Hubby has been working with Max on this for a couple of weeks now. There’s been a lot of laundry and baths, but as of yesterday evening, Max had two full days of 100% potty-training success.
As I was catching a bit of relax-time and had So You Think You Can Dance on the television last night, Hubby dropped down beside me on the couch. It was a particularly interesting episode since Lady Gaga was on as a special guest judge. She’s wacky in a great way – from the hair to the insane shoes she had on. But moreover, she’s also a generational icon, so I was trying to imagine what it must be like for those young dancers to have Lady Gaga provide them with advice.
At one point, Gaga was praising a young dancer so highly that she told her she would hire her on the spot. “Wow!” I said to Hubby, “Imagine having Lady Gaga tell you that you’re one of the best dancers she’s ever seen. I mean … for a young person, who would have danced for more than half of her life at this point, that would be a crowning glory moment! How could you ever top that?”
His response was simple: “When your son hits the Cheerios in the toilet*. That’s when.”
It’s funny, but he couldn’t have been more right, could he?
All of us parents have gotten excited with the first “poo-poo in the potty!” moments. I, for one, could never have imagined the thrill, joy — even pride — that comes from toilet training. (Well, that could come from anything with the word “toilet” attached to it for that matter.) But it’s true. Toilet training a child is a big deal. A major milestone.
In a (really excellent) book I read recently, it pointed out how toilet training is also a thankless task for the parent or caregiver. In The Help, a black maid named Aibileen, who has toilet trained 17 white children noted that not one of them every came up to her later in life to thank her for it. Sure, they might thank her for her cooking or other particular kindness, but not one has ever come up to her to thank her for the toilet training them. She was saying this with seriousness, but it gave me a chuckle.
A chuckle, because it’s true — but also because it’s not true. Toilet-training isn’t thankless because it benefits the parent or caregiver – hello? NO MORE DIAPERS TO CHANGE!
And yet, it’s come to this … that I am actually feeling a pang of nostalgic sadness about never having to my child’s diaper again. Parenthood sure does strange things to a person, doesn’t it? I knew that toilet training would come with its own set of trials and tribulations. I just wasn’t expecting that it would also bring me to tears.
* Using Cheerios in the toilet bowl as a target for little boys is a potty trick that we’ve been using. Feel free to share any other potty training tricks in the comments!