Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What I Forgot About Potty Training

My youngest just turned two and she is all about doing her business on the potty. This has been going on for almost two months. I was shocked that she wanted to do it at (what I consider) to be an early age. I’m of the opinion that it's sort of futile to force kids to do this particular task before they’re ready. My oldest didn’t have any interest in the potty until just before her third birthday, but once it clicked for her, it was pretty easy going. I bought her a blue bathing suit and told her when she went in the potty and not in her pants for a whole day, she could have it. It was hers by nightfall. She plays for keeps. 

My son, however, was difficult. I was working full time then and his babysitter had been doing daycare for 18 years and said she’d never met a kid she couldn’t potty train. She retired before he pooped on the can. It took months of pleading, begging, and eventually bribing with Star Wars action figures before he would do it.

So you’d think I would know what I was doing this time. At least that I would have a clue as to what to expect. Ummm…No and even no’er. You know how the “experts” claim that women are hard-wired to have a certain degree of amnesia where labor and delivery are concerned? Presumably to explain why any of us are mental enough to attempt it more than once? Well I remember labor just fine, but I forgot everything about potty training. And keep in mind, this is still early stages – we haven’t even gotten to the obsession with crapping in public places yet.

I thought it was going to be less gross that dealing with diapers. Wrong. Now I deal with diapers and the bio-hazard level three disaster my bathroom has become. I thought we would spend less money. Wrong. Now we buy just as many diapers, but also ten thousand more toddler wipes and bleach spray cleaner by the keg.  I thought if she decided to do it herself that it would be easier. Wrong. Now everything is on her terms and her timetable and my two-year-old has the disposition of (roughly) a cross between Shirley Temple and Joseph Stalin - so no thanks.

Obviously, I am useless when it comes to potty training even though I’ve done it twice before. Here is a partial list of the things I forgot about potty training.

You have to be naked to make. I had forgotten that my kid was basically going to be naked all the damn time. Why do you have to take off all of your clothes to pee? Including shoes? What would my day be like if I had to do that? Awkward, that’s what. Meanwhile, my baby can strip off faster than Pam Anderson in a hotel room.

Also – a quick question regarding the nakedness. Why does the urge to strip off and pee strike the most urgently when someone else is in there? Or worse, when we are two seconds from walking out the front door?

I am now a professional wiper. I’m doing a whole lot of wiping. My family is single handedly destroying the rain forest because we are easily going through six rolls of toilet paper every three hours. Where does the toilet paper go? What happens to it? Because I don’t actually use it on the kid I’m potty training. Instead, I use flushable toddler wipes. Except I have to use about thirty of them per poo which means my kid can go twice before I need a new pack and the three, little sad ones left at the bottom of the container end up getting used to wipe down the potty itself. Colossal waste of money and yet, I have to have my ten packs a day. Seriously, the commode in the kids’ bathroom is probably going to irreparably break soon because it basically never stops working. It gets flushed 7,568 times per day. Flush, flush flushitty flush.

This phase of potty training is twice as disgusting as just changing diapers. Yesterday, I found brown streaks and lumps all over the floor. I prayed they were dirt or decomposing leaves tracked in on shoes but I cleaned it with bleach anyway. It was almost like my daughter was attempting to create a multi-media art project – but with poo. And I’ll be honest, my gag reflex isn’t what it used to be. I haven’t been this bad since I was pregnant, when I chuked about every thirty minutes. Oh, all that was gross, wasn't it? [Editor's Note: God yes. Please talk about cleaning or something now. Immediately.  -Kate]

I never stop cleaning. Why? Because toddlers are like paratroopers minus the landing skills. Once they walk, it’s like a daily episode of Tom and Jerry. Now all the scampering around includes puddles and piles. Also, there’s always at least one section of the Wall Street Journal in the bathroom. The baby has gotten so used to it being there that once, when it wasn’t lying on the floor – she found the paper and brought it in there. The problem is – a newspaper on the floor seems to be the international symbol for “pee here”. Not good.

Oh the smells. My bathroom now has what I refer to as a “Stink Cycle.” It starts with the smell of bleach then fades into the aroma of an indoor pool at the Rec Center then morphs into the smell of a large turd. Repeat.

Questionable timing there, Creator of Mankind. There is a certain kind of whacktacularness to the fact that small children are at their most annoyingly “NO MAMA! I DO IT MYSELF!” at the same time they decide they want to make on the potty. Sure, they can poop unassisted, but then a special government agency is required to clean up afterwards. Or you have to rent a powerwasher. From, as fate would have it, Ricky. Go figure.

Hand washing is so important! I wash my hands so many times per day that they are dried, chapped and cracking. Yesterday I used some hanitizer, and I spent the next five minutes howling in pain. What’s worse? The mixed blessing that the girl wants to wash her hands too. For twenty minutes. She has a name for it: “Splish Splash!” Give yourself a moment to form a mental picture of this. It results in both my child and my bathroom being soaking wet. Oh goody. More to wipe.

It’s a family affair. I thought potty training was just about the one kid. But suddenly, her older siblings feel entitled to M & M’s for not crapping their pants. Also, I’ve noticed some sort of cosmic (or maybe karmic) oddness that has most of the family moving towards poop alignment. When one has to go – suddenly all three of them have to make. But like finicky girl dogs, they will only poop in one spot. Meaning that a couple of times per day, I have two kids pooping in one bathroom at the same time (see: “twice as disgusting” and “oh the smells”).

I expect that when we move to the “underpants-instead-of-diapers” phase that a whole new wave of things I forgot about potty training will come crashing down on my head. Until then, I’ll be the one with bleach spray, a pocket full of M&M's, and a wary expression.

Oh, and she's naked. Again.
xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010


  1. I haven't gotten that far yet! My daughter hasn't figured out how to take her diaper off! Thank God!


  2. OMG...my son will be 2 in January and you have officially scared me to death of potty training! That's it...he'll just have to stay in diapers forever!

  3. Oh my goodness. I so hear you. I have a toilet diva as well. I had to put the lock back ont he bathroom door and call potty training off limits because I am trying to deal with a newborn, and while two years old for girls, I guess, is plenty old enough to WANT to use the potty, it's not mature enough for Viv to use it right. Our house is 80% carpet and I will duct tape her diaper on her to stop her because I refuse to deal with the drama and the mess. And she's my third as well.

    Oh, and you said FLUSHITTY. ROFLMAO!!!

  4. Okay, I'm crying again - but from laughter! Thanks again. This was fabulous.

  5. Oh! The funny-ness!!!! My first was like yours, waited until 3, no pooptastrophes, no hanging out in the bathroom. Please, please I hope only 1 out of 4 will do the long drawn out poop and pee everywhere thing. It was a laugh-out-loud-while-I'm-reading-but-now-I'm-scared kinda post.

    P.S. I'm getting a bleach headache just thinking about it.

  6. Try it with twins. You would have thought I could have been done with it all in one big swipe but nooooooo little girl has to be Miss Perfect and a bribe of Winnie the Poo panties totally worked. Little boy has to wait until he's well into pre-school and they are threatening to kick him out when they find a pull up in his backpack.

  7. I'm on my second child potty training. my second fire-hose-imitating, pee-slinging, carpet destroying son. He's 3.25 and four thousand times more stubborn than his older brother. My biggest problem with the whole process is the damn m&ms. He gets three every time he goes, but this week-minded mommy gets a handful. He needs to get the whole going potty thing soon before I gan back all the post-pregnancy weight I've lost!

  8. My three kids have all potty trained differently. My oldest daughter took FOR.EV.ER. She could go pee and poop in the potty at a very early age, but didn't get the whole "don't go in your pants" thing for looong time. My youngest daughter decided at 19 months that she wanted to be like her big sis and declared she was done with diapers and that was it, potty trained day and night in the matter of a day or two. Her twin brother, on the other hand, is in the stage you are describing above. They are now 25 months old and while he loves to go in the potty, he makes monstrous man-sized poops and has to run out of the bathroom with his pants around his ankles and poop dripping down his leg to go tell the whole family what he's done. I plan to ditch the diapers any day now...I have no idea how that will go this time around! Good luck!

  9. I would just like someone to explain why my 3 year old has devised the following system:

    Diaper or Pull Up on = Go in diaper or pull up
    Underwear and pants on = go in underwear and pants
    Naked from the waste down = go on potty EVERY TIME!

    Suffice it to say, my child is naked at all times in our house.

  10. Yes. We are in the underpants phase with our second daughter. She did great last week and stayed dry/clean all week. Then...we went to paint pottery at an art studio. That is when she decided to pee. On the chair. And the floor. How embarrased was I trying to clean pee up off the chair and floor of the studio? Um. Very. And while last week she was able to poo in the potty, apparently all bets are off this week. Yep. In the underpants. UGH! Ew! I can't take it!

  11. Oh, this is why I will potty train my now 2 and a half year old when SHE'S ready and interested. She'll sit on the potty but not for long at all. I can't convince her otherwise....oh well :)

  12. My third basically potty trained herself so quickly at 2 1/2 we forgot to celebrate we no longer had diapers. She is now trying to help her 5 yr old brother who seems to always "forget" to use the bathroom instead of just peeing his pants. Boys are a different creature!

  13. I'm getting close to potty training my fourth, and given her head-strong, stubborn nature, she's going to be the hardest of the four. Oh goody.

  14. just finished potty training #3!! And yes, he's the last one! *dances* but it took 20 million years. Also? We closed the pool. On the last day of summer. I win!

  15. Can we start a potty training support group? My 2 year olds daycare teachers are trying to tell me she is ready for underwear, because she NEVER has an accident for them and goes all the time there. When we are shopping, out to dinner and any public place she is dry and goes every time. At home its a different song and dance, she pees everywhere and refuses to sit on the toilet 80% of the time. When she does go and gets a treat I suddenly have my 4 year old screaming that she did a "big poop" today as loud as she can so everyone in our neighborhood knows.

  16. So funny! I was pregnant with nausea like I'd been on a 6 month tequila bender when I tried to potty train my daughter. And she wasn't having any of it. Every time she pooped, I gagged uncontrollably making an apparently hysterical sound, because both my husband and daughter would laugh their butts off every time they heard it. Meanwhile, my abs were sore from the retching. Of course poop in underpants is far more disgusting than poop in diapers. After a while when it came time to clean up the poop, my daughter would say, "Mommy say Blah!" That was also really funny...to her. I finally gave up until well into my second trimester. We did "Nudey Booty Weekend" (she was the only one nude, I promise) and she peed on our kitchen floor once and that was it. That and potty jellybeans worked like a charm. Now she is in the phase of pooping in all the public places, wanting to wipe herself (not pretty), and pooping while I am nursing her little brother. Oh, and we just moved into a 4 story townhouse, so she of course MUST use the bathroom on the 4th floor EVERY TIME! Good times!

  17. My daughter also just turned two and wants to use the potty, but it was such a nightmare with my son that I keep saying no! She has to want it REAL BAD before I am willing to go down that road again...

  18. Hil.ar.i.ous. My 2 yro girl wants to go in the potty - or at least says she does. Instead she GETS NAKED, sits on the potty, DOES NOTHING, then tells me she's done. So the diaper goes back on...and then she does her business in the diaper. We are getting ready for a Naked Week soon.

  19. Wow I'm glad I didn't miss anything! My oldest was the wake up one morning and didn't want another diaper and hasn't looked back and then behind my back she went and trained her little sister! My husband was like Hay whens the last time we washed diapers (we use cloth) and I was like LORD I don't know and we both donned our bio hazard masks and were surprised that not only did we not have a single diaper to was but your not yet 2 year old was in pantys and dry!

  20. Both mine were like bays' kids... and it didn't matter how long they'd run around naked, the second the pull up or underwear went on, they'd let loose.
    Finally did get them to let us know when they needed to go, so we could get the undies off when the time came.
    Don't remember the second one's potty training as well as the first, for some reason. Except that he suddenly decided to use the toilet consistently RIGHT before our first Disney trip. No diapers was a major celebration there!!!

  21. I loved the pull-ups that made my daughter feel wet so that she didn't like it. 1 week and she was potty trained. My son turns two in March and it's a good thing my husband is looking forward to training him because I want nothing to do with it! lol, my hubby is excited about teaching him to pee in the woods, which will most likely mean lots of peeing in public places. Big Daddy anyone?

  22. we just finished up (pretty much) potty training our third. Oh, the stink cycle! Especially when mommy is to lazy (read: busy) to clean out the potty right away and it gets forgotten.....ew! With a 6 year old, an almost 4 year old and a 2 1/2 year old, I had been changing diapers daily since 2004. It was time! She's obssessed with that "lovely" Dora, so I told her if she poo-ed in the potty for 3 days without an accident, the big Dora doll was hers. That's what did it, over every other bribe I tried. Dora was the key to my salvation! hallelujah! :D

  23. I used to sit my son on the potty right before bath time(at 12 months) while I ran the water and he would go EVERY time! Now, he will be two in a little less than a month and he wants nothing to do with the potty at all. I have no idea what I am going to do, but I am liking a few of the suggestions :)

  24. I had a similar experience:

    From the Diary of Potty Training Nightmares Parts one two and three (they are short).





  25. All hail the para-poopers and bleach spray lingering in every bathroom! What a cacophony of smells!

    Great autumn/winter tip: Chase the smell by pouring more whiskey in your tea with honey....yes, whiskey. mmmmmm.

  26. Oh my!! I remember the accidents of potty training. I had to change the baby's clothes at least 6 times a day! And the "Elmo's potty time" song -Accidents happen- still lingers in my head


  27. So funny! I've gone thru three kids with potty training. Of the four only two are mine. Seems like i'm potty training every two years. My DD was easy. Love getting prizes yes we bribed her and within a month of potty training she was a pro. My DS and the little boy I watch not so easy. My DS would constantly pee himself and found toys that he could sit in to poop. Not and fun. Finally one night he said he didn't want wear pull ups anymore and that was that. The little boy I watch peed and pooped in his undies all the time but one night much like my own son said no more to his mom and that was that. I can only hope my 2 month old DS is easy like my first DS was

  28. This had me laughing out loud! I've just started potty training my oldest and I can totally relate to the gross, messy fiasco our bathroom has become! Today he peed all over the floor (who knew his little body held such a large volume of pee?!?) while smiling from ear-to-ear and screaming "pee pee! pee pee!" Good luck to all my fellow potty-trainers!

  29. "Mama, sometimes the poops come fast, and sometimes they come slow". In the very unfortunate mall bathroom...for 20 minutes one day. Yesser.

  30. I'm going a bit nuts trying to train my 3-year-old boy. I drop him off at the sitter's house in underwear and his jammies (just in case he goes in the car, saves an outfit). He will stay dry all day and even goes pee in the potty. He only goes in his diaper at naptime.

    At home, he refuses to sit on it most days and has never actually gone in the potty. Apparently he is holding all that pee in all day because he goes half a dozen times in a row as soon as he gets home. Maybe he's just not ready, but he's a smart kid and think it's a control thing.

  31. Ok this seals it. I am SO NOT READY for toddlerhood. Question: Have you ever come across some sort of freezing agent for an 11 month old? If so, very interested. Please advise.

  32. Mine is two also. We have a big problem with her "spraying" when she pees. Her brothers are three and four and refuse to potty on the big boys potty now without geting to pick out of the treat box. I think I wash bedding like every day. She finally just stopped that Thank god! It gets easier. Eventually...lol.

  33. Picture this, if you dare:

    Proud little blonde girl comes running out of the bathroom, yelling, "MAMA! I pooped in the little potty! POOOP! Come see~!"
    So I walked in to see...

    Just as the dog walked out. Licking her chops.

    There was no poop left.

    --kate in Michigan

  34. This is the week we are going to potty train Luke Skywalker. I can only hope that the incentives of a big boy bed and new car seat like big brother's will help to ease the transition. Good luck! (Oh and the kid's bathroom always smells since Ellwood has something against flushing the toilet. I have given up.)

  35. We potty trained twin girls at 26 months, using an intensive three day method. We put them in panties and threw all the diapers and pull ups away (they helped). Even at night they just wore their panties. They had Dora panties and we would say you don't want to tee-tee on Dora. "No, we don't tee-tee on Dora". It took longer than three days but I would say they were fully potty trained in about a week and a half. Only had accidents in their beds the first couple of nights and less than a hand full of times since then. (they have been potty trained for two months now.) Do they still have a few accidents, yes, but not very often. This is the method we used: http://www.3daypottytraining.com

  36. Lets not forget about the joys of boys...when my son sits down to pee, his
    "fire hose" (as we lovingly call it) shoots right past the potty seat straight across the entire length of the bathroom floor! I would have bought stock in Chlorox bleach wipes if I would have known about this dilemma! And..if he actually does make it into the "bowl", he likes to bring it to me. This would be ok if it wasn't empty by the time he carried (spilled) it across the living room! FUN!

  37. "I expect that when we move to the “underpants-instead-of-diapers” phase that a whole new wave of things I forgot about potty training will come crashing down on my head."

    uh, yeah. that would be poop in the underwear. i've been doing that with my 3 1/2 yr old twins for months. the CAN go on the potty, but they apparently have waaaayyyyy to much going on to bother?

  38. This post describes exactly how it is/was when my 22 month old decided to potty train herself.

    Add this:
    Since it was her idea to begin with, she reserves the right to revert to going solely in her underwear for days at a time, without giving you so much as a warning "may i wear diapers today?"

    At now 2 1/2, we have had a handful of reversions lasting anywhere from a day to two weeks. You can imagine how my husband feels about it. I just look at him and shrug. What am I supposed to do about it? It wasn't my choice.




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