The Truth about the potty.
I posted a piece about potty training a while back that left me unsatisfied. It felt inauthentic because none of it read of the difficult and trying ordeal called potty training.
I put off potty training my child until he was one month from age three. I was terrified of teaching him how to use a toilet. He has parts that I don’t have. I wasn’t ready to potty train when I was enormously pregnant with kid number two, and nobody, anywhere at any time was going to be able to give me the answers, solutions and fool proof methods to make sure my kid didn’t poop in a shopping cart. The loaded gun scenario scared me.
So I had a newborn baby, it was summer and I had bought a book called “Oh crap potty training”. I bought it for the title, because I knew I would need humor to see me through the literal shit times. I used it nearly to a T, and let me tell you, it’s not a sweet and delicate method. There weren’t M&M’s and sticker charts. It was a strict method, and I was going to need rules.
It required me to never tell my kid “it’s ok”. It required me to lock us indoors and let him piss everywhere, through tantrums and emotional outbursts (from me). Naked time, all the time, until he nailed a pee pee feeling and dashed like hell to the toilet.
I cried daily and spent a week wearing piss from both of my kids. I got so used to wearing the piss on my clothes that I’d just let it air dry and keep rocking the same “sterile” outfit.
He pooped in the potty, as long as I walked out of the room and let him tantrum alone, I would generally come back into a potty poop. Which I would dance for and sing for and dole out treats for, provided I didn’t use them as “rewards”, and just as treats. Yeah, the method.
Two weeks into our method we ventured out, to parks and short shopping outings. If we were out for more than an hour, he was going to pee his pants. I changed three pairs of pants a day, I celebrated poop like the times square ball drop. I was a stark raving lunatic.
I cried into my husband’s chest when he came home from work. I drank bottle of wine after bottle of wine.
My son would physically melt down, arch his back, kick his legs and flail his arms until I would let go of him, and then he’d pee on the couch, the floor or a blanket. He peed on my husband’s pillow once. A memory foam one, it was so gross and so unwashable.
I would go to play dates in total fear of his bladder. He peed puddles at the park, he peed on a slide and a swing and a rock climbing wall. I learned how to run, really fast with my head down low, carrying both of my kids like sporting equipment.
I washed sheets like a hotel housekeeper. He never once woke up when he had to pee, he would just wake up crying and wet.
I felt like a horrible parent most of the time, he would pee with what seemed like no self-control, and I would have to sit in front of him and repeat “We don’t pee our pants honey, we pee on the potty. When you have to pee tell mommy.” It felt like beating a dead horse covered in its own piss.
This month was the month of no accidents. No night time bed wetting. This month he is finally potty trained. Four months in. I can shop with him, I can leave the house with one outfit change instead of a suitcase, and a potty.
We would actually travel with our Bjorn potty in the trunk, like a mini bathroom. I carried that big red obnoxious thing to the park, in the stroller for walks, and to see our friends. I was not at all mortified about that, every mother knew what was happening when I pulled in with my toilet, one even used it with her kid at the park, and that was awesome. Team work.
I’m relieved to be done. I am certain there are more embarrassing toilet moments ahead of me, and I do still have to potty train any additional kids that come out of me. That alone, is like birth control.
Thank goodness for the first born. Where we learn all of our mistakes and get our footing on parenting and milestones. Thank goodness the first born teaches us our lessons and shows us how to be better at what we do.
Potty training, learned.