Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pee-Pee on the Potty

I’d like to say that it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but pretty much it was just the worst of times. While the rest of the world went on their merry way, we have been fighting the gravest battle of all parenthood: potty training.
If you have ever attempted to potty train a child or even a pet, you know the frustrating misery it will put you through on a daily basis. A constant (and I do mean constant) struggle and perpetual asking the same six words over and over from the moment the child wakes up until the child goes to sleep, and then you even find yourself waking up in the middle of the night questioning the darkness and the random characters in your dreams all the while you yourself have become at one with the phrase and the same six words are forever burned upon your lips: Do you have to go potty?
Having gone through two successful completely toilet trained children, I was sure the third would be the easiest. People told me that she would just want to copy her big brother and sister, that she would practically potty train herself. I, of course, was elated because I thought I really deserved a break and also because I really don’t enjoy doing laundry, mopping floors, and buying diapers priced as if they were lined in gold. Better days were coming!
Alas, they were all wrong. This child decided she would rather not mimic her siblings and instead has proven to be the most difficult to break of the golden diaper habit. Naturally I consulted friends for advice, and among the responses I got was the ol’ “potty train in one day” method. This seemed too good to be true, but so many people swore by it that I gave it a whirl.
There I sat, completely camped out in the bathroom. The basic theory is that in the morning, you and your child potty train a doll, watching the doll mess its diaper (ooh…raisins) and then teaching the doll the correct way to do things. In the afternoon, your child is rewarded with REAL BIG KID UNDERWEAR (worthy of all caps) and magically he or she will have matured into a non-disposable land.
This sounded fabulous to me, and so there I was with a Strawberry Shortcake doll, a stack of books a mile high, juice, reward candy and stickers, and of course some raisins. And while the first 20 minutes were easy, I soon realized that I would have to sit on the bathroom floor for hours on end, reading the same books and flushing perfectly good dried fruit down the toilet. My back started to hurt, I got thirsty and anxious. I was a prisoner in my own bathroom, trapped on the linoleum floor and surrounded by enough kid-friendly happiness to make my head spin.
It goes without saying that I quickly canceled the one-day potty party. Part of me wishes I had really stuck with it, though, because now we’ve been at it for weeks. Also because I have said “do you have to go potty?” somewhere around four million seven hundred thousand and eighty two times. The whole thing has become such an engrained part of our life that I don’t think my husband is even capable of calling it a bathroom anymore, which could be less than desirable during a business luncheon if a potty announcement is made.
But as all good parents know, this too shall pass. There are very few children who don’t eventually learn to dump the diapers and become fluent in flushing, and I know someday we will have that grand breakthrough and my last child will be officially potty trained.
That will be a definite reason for a potty party. Bring your own undies.

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