So, we just had an experience;
it was the kind of experience that gives you greater insight into your family, your life and your being as a whole.
This experience opened my eyes to a stark truth:
I do not know how to toilet train my son.
But first, I will backtrack.
My daughter made potty training look (and seem) easy.
As a teacher and new mother I had heard of people taking entire weekends, dedicated solely to getting their kid on the toilet. Instead of enjoying time off or a vacation, spring break was, instead, a chance to get shit done (pun intended).
For my daughter, when she turned two it went something like this:
Me: “Look! I got you some pretty underwear.”
Daughter: “Wow! They’re so pretty.”
Me: “Okay. Well, if you want to wear them then you need to stop using a diaper and start using the toilet.”
Daughter: “Sounds like a plan!”
But in all seriousness, it was easy and fast and she made it through that phase with little accidents and great enthusiasm for princess panties.
Now, I have another child who is “of that age” and I am just starting to think about the process of toilet training.
Before you jump on me, let me say this:
I know that all kids move at their own unique speeds. I will not be making this a high pressure thing. Not at all.
My son is not even two and a half years old, and I am not desperate to get him out of diapers.
I want him to do things on his own time.
I also know, anecdotally, that boys are typically a bit harder to train. Please do not think that I am stereotyping. Just using data that I gathered as a long-time preschool teacher.
In any case, today my husband went out of state for steak
(as most people do on Sundays)
and so I got to spend time with my kiddos. Which meant that they got to spend some alone time with each other.
They made up games (he put my fuschia throw blanket around his head and was “Little Red Riding Hood”; he learned how to stand on his sister’s footboard and jump onto her bed; at one point I called out to ask, “You’re not making a mess, are you?” to which she replied, “We are only making a mess with laughter!”)…
until my daughter came racing into my room, breathless.
“My brother took off his diaper and wants to go on the toilet!”
I jumped at the chance.
I carried his bare tush into the bathroom, put a potty seat down on the toilet to make it feel less large & intimidating and got to work.
Having a six year old daughter who often acts like she’s 26 was very helpful, here. She was with me, and totally got it.
And it got me thinking: the last time that she and I did a serious bathroom mission together was the March morning in 2013 (during which time my husband was also out for a big meal with his supper club crew) and I peed on a stick to see two lines appear. She was just a month shy of being three at the time, and so she definitly didn’t get it when I said, “The positive line is even darker than the control line!” but today we were demonstrating that we have both grown up in the past three years.
Without wanting to put pressure on my son, my daughter and I were pretty passionate about getting him to try peeing on the potty.
I tried running the water.
She ran downstairs and got him a bottle of water.
“Water is great for you, because it is filled with fluids!” she told her brother earnestly.
I made up songs.
I whispered a chant.
“Go pee go! Go pee go!”
I offered to get him cool new underwear. My daughter offered up her own pairs.
She and I were totally a team and that felt great.
But I couldn’t figure out a way to get him to pee somewhere other than in his diaper, in the bath or on the floor.
And that is when it hit me that I do not know how to toilet train my son.
Finally, after a good ten minutes of singing and water-running, my son asked me to put his diaper back on and I obliged. I am going to stick by my word and let him do this at his own speed.
And even though we did not emerge from the bathroom triumphantly, I found the little vignette to be incredibly special.
I met both of my kids’ needs at the same time and I did what I felt was best for them.
We shared laughter and some bonding.
I made new memories.
I felt like a real mom…
…even though I do not know how to toilet train my son.