It's difficult to think of or identify the pleasant parts of potty training. With the exception of that first time your kid “goes” in the toilet, and you realize your diaper days are nearly over, the joys of potty training are few and far between. Most of the time, potty training is a (wait for it) crapshoot, and you never know if those 40 minutes spent singing with your kid on the potty are going to amount to anything. In fact, there are a lot of things no mom actually likes doing when potty training.
Maybe I'm being a real downer and I missed the memo on how to make potty training fun. (Yeah, I heard about the Cheerios but those didn't really do it for my kids, or for me.) My first son seemed to take to potty training pretty easily but, with my second, I'm wondering if he will ever be out of diapers. Every time I say, "Ok, let's go try the potty now," he says, "No thank you," as if I were asking him if he would like a lollypop, or a nap.
As with many of my parenting approaches, I am taking the path of least resistance (at least at first) when it comes to potty training. I'm not doing the "three-day-method" or anything that might speed things along. No, not for me. I would prefer a slow, excruciating method in which every day creeps along at a glacial pace and my son sometimes uses the potty, and sometimes does not. I will sit there at his feet until the one magical day when he decides that he is finally ready to actually use the potty for what it was intended, and not just for reading and singing. Until then, I will continue to not enjoy doing the following things:
Asking Them Over And Over If They Need To Use The Potty
When you've been asking your kid for the 200 billionth time if they need to use the potty, and their answer is still "no" despite the fact that you've been changing their diapers throughout the day, you begin to feel like you're getting gaslighted. How can the answer still be "no," when he knows, and you know, that he has been peeing away to his heart's content in those Pampers over there? It would be much better if your child just told you the truth, which is not that he doesn't need to use the potty, it's just that he doesn't want to.
Getting Them Undressed A Million Extra Times
Getting a 2 year old dressed in the morning is nothing short of a victory. First, there's the chasing them in circles around the house as they giggle maniacally. Then, once you've caught them and hogtied them to their backs, you have to deftly dive to the left and to the right to avoid getting a black eye from the kicking. Moms do not enjoy having to undo all their hard work of the earlier morning every single time it is time to use the potty.
In my house, my children use the potty a la George from Seinfeld, which means no one goes potty unless in the nude. So, for me, it's not as simple as, "I'll put your diaper on and pull up your pants." Oh no. I have to fully get my child dressed from top to bottom, including the socks. Each. Time. He. Goes.
Having To Debate Whether To Throw Out The Existing Diaper
There comes a moment of truth for every potty-training mama when she looks at the diaper her kid was wearing before he went to use the potty, and she wonders, "Could I reuse this one, or do I need to get a whole new diaper?" My answer is usually "yes" let's reuse it unless, of course, there was poop involved. If the diaper has a light blue line, indicating there was a splash or two of urine in there at some point, but the diaper is not saggy or soggy, I totally put that sucker back on. Diapers are expensive, you guys.
Holding Them Upright So They Don't Lose Their Balance
When I'm in the bathroom with my son, waiting for the "magic to happen," there are plenty of other things I could be accomplishing in that same room so as not to make the experience a total waste (because let's be real, 9 times out of 10 he does not "go"). Things like folding laundry, responding to emails, or organizing my drawer of makeup.
Then my kid starts singing a song that requires an exuberant bounce, and nearly falls into the toilet and gets scared so he insists that I hold him the entire time he sits on the porcelain throne. Ow, my forearms!
Reading All The Books
In my family, we keep a special stash of "potty books" that are just for the purpose of reading while on the John. Both of my children are very anti-change, so the same books have been there since my older son was potty training, about two years ago. (P.S. I never want to know what kinds of germs are lurking on these books.)
My son would like me to "read" the books with him, but he doesn't actually want me to read words. Instead, he wants to point at every character and talk about who each one is, and what they are doing on the page, and where they might be going after we turn the page. Yes, it is all very cute and creative, but frankly, requires a lot more work on my part than the author intended. As a children's book writer, I appreciate the work authors put in so that we, the parents, don't have to do so much ourselves. (Plus, I'd like to get back to washing my makeup brushes and throwing out old eyeshadows.)
Answering All The Questions
When the books have lost their appeal, my kid will throw them on the floor and commence asking me questions about my face. "That your nose?" he will ask, jamming a grimy finger up my nostril. "Those your eyes?" he wants to know, grabbing my face in the palms of his hands, and pulling my face close to his so that he appears as a one-eyed cyclops before me.
I know these moments are supposed to be sweet and special, but all I can think is, "Gross, your fingers were just all over that toilet rim and I think you used them to scratch your butt, and now they are on my face."
Playing The "Did You Go?" Game
Sitting and waiting for a child to do his business is about as entertaining as watching grass grow. Except the grass isn't going to take a dump on your carpet the second you let it wander around the living room with no diaper and no underwear because you were advised the best potty training method is to let your kid run free and naked until the mood strikes them.
When your kid is just sitting there, singing, reading, asking questions, and the bowl remains pristinely clear, you can't help but feel something like, "I've just put in all this time and effort, and we've got nothing to show for it?" Which is a really weird thing to feel disappointed about, when you think about it.
The Obligatory Picture
You do not want to be That Mom, but you are just so freaking proud after that first poop in the potty (and the second, and the third), that you have to catch yourself before adding it to your Instastories (hashtag: TMI). Then you take the picture and you feel revulsion, utter revulsion at the person you have become. You look in the mirror on your way out of the bathroom and wonder, "Who is this poop-picture-taking-woman staring back at me?"
It is one thing to wipe a child's rear with a moist baby wipe. It is another to use actual toilet paper. Dry, flaky toilet paper seems to always get trapped in a little tushie, and the key to its release is a nice, clean, bubble bath. But c'mon. No one wants that in their bubble bath! Gross.
Also? When your kid starts to learn to wipe himself. I swear every time we go this route there is some amount of poop on my son's fingers. Kill me now.
Letting Them Go Commando
At some point you give in and let the chatter from Mom Group convince you to let your kid go commando the next day. What sounded like a great, hippie-dippy, everyone-dance-around-with-flower- wreaths-in-their-hair approach to potty training in theory, is actually one of the most soul-sucking experiences of child-rearing thus far. You are watching your son like a hawk making sure he does not pee on your nice mid-century modern coffee table.
Cleaning Up After The Inevitable Accident
There is no task more miserable than cleaning up your child's potty accident. It feels like adding insult to injury, particularly on those days when you feel like you have spent the better part of your evening sitting on the bathroom floor, helping to coax the pee or poop out of your child's body as if there were some kind of ancient spell you might hit upon to help speed Mother Nature along. Then, when he runs to you saying "uh-oh" you can't help but feel like saying, "But I believed in you!" as if you, the mother, are a weathered old football coach disappointed by the team's star athlete who didn't make the pass.