Potty Training

In 2008, after years of trying, we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. The first year flew by in a blur of diapers and exhaustion, and I learned parenthood ain’t for sissies.

I’ve changed our darling little cherub who was emitting a cloud of stench that made us wish we had a dog to blame it on. I knew what she’d been eating, and I still didn’t believe it. Sometimes though, I enjoyed getting my revenge on those summer stink bugs by putting them in her diaper pail.

All those plastic shopping bags I had folded up and saved like some demented old woman quickly diminished, too. We were dealing with too much brown to go green.

Before I knew it, she was two. Initially, we milked the pull ups since there was no pressing need (pardon the expression) to get our girl potty trained. It wasn’t even on my radar.

Eventually, we started meeting other mommys. That’s how the subject came up. Oddly enough, I found myself in a virtual pissing contest (pardon again) with other parents. “My boy was potty trained and doing our taxes by eighteen months!” “Your daughter is still in diapers??!!” I had no idea I was so far behind.

Sometime around our girl’s third birthday, it happened. I found a part-time job and needed to find a daycare. I tried to tap into the playground grapevine to see if I could get some places to look into. Several in our area required our girl to be potty trained. Some would even throw her out after too many accidents! This was already turning into too much fun for humans, and I hadn’t even started my job.

After meeting several scary proprietors I wouldn’t leave my dog with, let alone my offspring, we settled on a local, nonthreatening facility that would help us potty train. While I was grateful for any help I could get, I wasn’t prepared for the laundry.

The daycare warned us that we couldn’t do pull ups if we wanted to potty train. This made sense, in theory. But after she attended daycare for eight weeks, I was ready to buy stock in Maytag.

Whenever she got home, I’d go through her backpack looking for those plastic bags her teachers used to wrap her hazmat underpants—and me without my tongs. Thankfully, she has more clothes than her mom and dad put together.

The early stages of potty training at home began in the usual way: we watched videos, read books, and we had a small traveling potty – in our house. This thing went to the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom and our daughter’s bedroom. The problem was we were trying to get someone who has the attention span of a squirrel to try to focus.

If I had a nickel for every time I asked our daughter “Do you need to use the potty?”, I could buy a new car. Any other normal person would have run screaming out of our house yelling “Enough with the Potty!!” It’s the verbal equivalent of Chinese water torture—for us. Our little girl, however, remains unfazed.

Perhaps it’s because she’s so busy trying to explore the world that she insists on waiting until the absolute last minute. When she says “Mommy I gotta go potty”, the “RIGHT NOW” is a given.

We’ve planned vacations around her majesty’s bladder. Long car trips and potty training were not a combination we were willing to try. We got used to traveling locally, prepared for Armageddon. Our little hoodlum got herself thrown out of a supermarket childcare for you guessed it, too many accidents. We were at a loss as to what was going to get this kid’s attention.

Help came from an unlikely source. My brother-in-law gave my daughter his old Wii game system as a fourth birthday gift. A little addict was born. The first time she played she stayed on until she peed herself. After a while, we began to smarten up and created a family rule of sorts. If you wee wee yourself, there is no Wii for the day.

Several days went by when games went untouched. For once, mommy and daddy didn’t cave. Not that negotiations weren’t tried: “Mommy I only peed a little! I promise I won’t do it again!”

Sometimes I wish I had earplugs when the attempts would continue. Daddy could tell I had a tough day by whether or not wine was waiting on the counter when he got home. (It was never for him.)

We’d gotten so desperate, we’d made a behavior chart and included the potty in it. In retrospect, I’m wondering if I should have taken a different approach.

Would it have helped if I tried more positive reinforcement? We made a huge fuss whenever our daughter tried to use the potty. Should I have kept yellow pom poms in the bathroom? It would have given new meaning to ‘Go, Honey, Go!’, but I was never the rah-rah type.

What is this ‘patience’, and where can I get some right now?!

Another lesson I’ve learned while parenting, things never happen on your timetable. Things are slowly improving. She’s had some good weeks. I also try to remind myself that ‘late blooming’ does not mean ‘never blooming’

I’m a CPA, I can handle our taxes. Still, is it considered child labor if I teach my five year old to do her own damn wash?

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Barb Godshalk

I am currently a stay-at-home mom living with my amazing husband and walking wealth of material in South Jersey. Someday I hope to make time to blog consistently as an active member of the South Jersey Writers Group.

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  1. Barb, your parenting humor and puns are a testament to all those in the trenches of parenthood. Thanks for sharing this!

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