A connoisseur of romantic comedies, I learned ages ago that despite how hilarious and charming Katherine Heigl and Cynthia Nixon are when they have it unknowingly smeared on their cheeks, there’s actually nothing adorable about real life, non chick-flick poop.
In truth, when it becomes embedded in your fingernails after changing a particularly messy diaper and the only way to get rid of the real or psychological stink is to cut them off and bleach the cuticles, no immature but ultimately tenderhearted guy will ever regard feces as if it were a coat of blush and gaze at you lovingly, realizing at long last that he’s found his soul mate. As such, most parents drop everything when their children turn 2-ish to impart unto them a set of tools to deal with their own waste.
Yet, a few months into trying to get my daughter out of diapers, I’m questioning why we’re really trying to potty train her at this exact moment.
The first two years of her life were spent in successive phases. There was the Will She Successfully Breast Feed phase (no), followed by the Will She Choke or Have An Allergic Reaction To Anything She’s Being Fed phase (no) and the Will She Ever Learn To Nap phase (yessssss!). Then there was the Will She Ever Crawl and Walk phases (yes and yes), the Will She Be Weaned Off The Bottle Without Issue phase (no, and 11 months later she still won’t drink milk), and the Will She Bite Other Kids phase (not yet, fingers crossed).
Each phase comes equipped with its own set of books, tools, stickers, charts, diagrams, gear, television programs, unsolicited advice, and tales of lessons learned the hard way. We’ve weathered more phases than Jessica Simpson’s love life.
Luckily, at the moment everything seems to be smooth sailing. My daughter throws herself into music and art with flair, cheerfully plays and explores on the playground and outside, and except for virtually every flight on which she’s been awake (and some on which she’s been asleep), I consider myself a fortunate mom (fingers crossed).
For that reason, I’m not sure I have the emotional fortitude to embark on a new journey right now, especially since I don’t envision any sort of short- or medium-term relief as a result of the Will She Learn How To Go On The Potty phase. It’s not like once she’s trained I can leave her sitting on the toilet with a newspaper while I go downstairs to take a nap or cook dinner. I mean, I’ll still have to wipe her until she’s, like, 5 or 6. With wiping being the worst part about diapers, what’s the benefit of doing it while she’s sitting on a toilet? With the narrow little potty seat fixed on top, there’s much less room to work than the changing table.
Hearing things from other moms like, “Well, you just have to expect accidents and always have a change of clothes handy. It’s not a bad idea to keep a portable potty in the back of your car, too,” doesn’t inspire me to shop for Dora the Explorer panties.
I’ve never really understood the little pots that some people use to train their kids. Who, exactly, cleans them out, and how? That seems to be up there with cloth diapers and ‘90s grunge rock in terms of filth. And what I’ll save in diapers will undoubtedly be made up for in carpet-cleaning expenses. I also know I won’t have any patience to wash and reassemble her car seat if she soils it repeatedly. Maybe we can just stop taking her places.
I’m giving serious consideration to boycotting potty training entirely. What’s the worst that’ll happen if I just stop trying to teach her? Even neglected kids eventually wear underwear without incident, right? Presumably even Precious was potty trained at some point. The preschools might not take my daughter in diapers, but the public school has to. I’m pretty sure that’s the law. And despite the fact that she thinks it’s a riot to look at the potty and talk about what others do on it, I strongly suspect she won’t notice or care if we quietly make it go away.
“Guess who just went pee pee on the potty?” my husband called out from the bathroom last week in the baby-talk way that all adults swear they’ll never do until each and every single one of them becomes a parent and does it.
“Did my big girl go pee pee on the potty?” I cried with delight. “Yaaaaaay! Now you get some chocolate!”
“Chock-wit?” she squealed with her legs dangling from the toilet, clapping her hands with joy.
“Yes,” I explained. “Here’s an M&M. And if you go poo poo or pee pee on the potty again, there’s more where that came from.”
She ate it and when a second one wasn’t forthcoming, the bliss quickly drained from her face.
“So, let me get this straight,” her scowl seemed to say, “I pee on the potty and get a single stinking M&M. But last night, when I had a loaded diaper, Daddy and I sat on the couch and shared an entire bag of M&Ms. I think we can effectively kiss the potty training crap goodbye, folks.”
At least we’re on the same page of this phase.
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