Tomorrow is the two-week mark in the period of Caleb’s life we’ll refer to as potty-training. Fourteen days ago, he had never gone to the bathroom on the toilet. Now he goes several times a day. So clearly, I am now an expert on all things potty-training, and I came up with this 10-step method that I thought I would pass on to you.
Stay up as late as possible the night before you begin getting things ready. Decorate the house. Set out treats and a sticker chart. Make training pants for your child’s favorite stuffed animal. Fill a basket with cleaning rags and a spray bottle of carpet cleaner for the inevitable accidents. Write out your plan for the day, and then re-write it because the first one wasn’t organized chronologically. Forget getting a good night’s sleep, because you’re a great mom, and you don’t need it.
On the day you begin potty training, follow the method your chosen expert recommends to the letter, not allowing for the fact that they may be assuming your children get up earlier than they actually do, or that it might be difficult to sit in the bathroom with your child every 15 minutes when you have a baby who also demands your attention. Pump your child full of things he will want to drink, so that he will need to potty frequently. Refuse to be discouraged when your child has several accidents, knowing that this is all part of the learning process.
Collapse into a heap on the floor the second your child’s father walks through the door. Tell him that you’ve never been more exhausted in your life, and lay out a stellar argument, describing in detail the necessity of ordering a pizza for dinner. From your vantage point on the floor, watch your child run in mad circles, fueled by the sugar in all the juice and chocolate milk you’ve given him.
Tuck your child into bed, wearing a pull up, and utter many prayers of thanks that the day is finally over, and that according to all the books, your child is now, “potty trained.” Do at least 3 loads of laundry before surrendering to a coma in your own bed.
Get your child up the next day, reminding him that he wears underwear now, because he’s a big boy. Sit him on the toilet, throw away the dirty pull-up, and change him into underpants.
Watch in horror as your child has a shocking number of accidents in the next two hours. Descend deeper into despair with each wet pair of underpants, and sob that you’re a terrible mother and your child “will never learn this,” as you wipe poop off of his bottom, legs, the toilet seat, and the bathroom floor. Cancel all play dates for the foreseeable future, describing your current situation to your friends with phrases such as “weeping and gnashing of teeth” and other images that reflect eternal torment. Assume that you will never again be able to leave your house.
Sojourn through the next two days in the sleep-deprived, overly emotional haze you haven’t experienced since your sweet boy was a newborn. Wear sweats. Forget to shower. Do a mathematically improbable amount of laundry. Continue to put your child on the toilet, rewarding him with treats and stickers, but with much less enthusiasm than on the first day.
Decide that enough is enough. Take a shower, get dressed, and leave your child with a sitter for a few hours. Breathe in the fresh air, and get a little perspective. Realize that you’ve totally forgotten about Pull-ups. Rejoice in the freedom of being able to put your child in diapers that he thinks are underwear. Consider the possibility that you and your child will be able to leave the house together. Reschedule your play-dates.
Watch in amazement as your child makes slow, but measurable progress towards using the toilet, staying dry, and recognizing the need to go to the bathroom. Realize that all your potty training efforts have not been in vain. Try to choke back the tears that come to your eyes one day when your child hops off the toilet, hugs you, and says, “Mommy, I’m so proud of you,” because you know that you earned that praise as much as he did.
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