Please welcome Matt to Lil-Kid-Things! This story rings all too true my friends. ALL too true.
As an at-home dad to a two-year old little girl, I was really not looking forward to potty training. I’m not weirded out by girls, as you can clearly tell because of my ability to produce offspring, but they’re just different. If I had a boy, I could just show him what do do. But with a daughter, I have to try to think like a woman, and teach her the way a woman would, recognizing all the while that I’m probably doing it wrong. But being the man that I am, and with my wife encouraging me to be ahead of the curve with our little girl, we tried potty training at 18 months. I know, I know, that’s early. But apparently some kids can do it!
The first time we tried potty training – oh yeah, I said first – we tried to use the bare bottom method. The theory is that the child will feel herself peeing and realize, “Hey, that’s not right!” and will somehow communicate this to you before they are done. This doesn’t work for children that don’t think peeing on themselves is a problem. She peed on the couch. She peed on the floor. She peed on the stairs. She peed in her high chair. Apparently, my kid just loves to pee on herself. So we went back to diapers for a while.
My second attempt to potty train my daughter was right after she turned two. Mommy wanted to try the training underwear. They are basically panties made out of wool socks. They are thick and absorbent. I exhausted my supply of eight pairs, even with my repeated questioning of “Do you have to go potty?” all day long. Training underwear must feel a lot like a diaper because my daughter would sit on the potty and do nothing. As soon as the next pair was on, BAM! Pee pee. So much for that method. At least she didn’t poop in them.
A few weeks ago, we took a vacation with my wife’s family, and we decided that when we returned, it would be hard core potty training time. We tried the bare bottom method again. We thought that we would have more success this time since my daughter is a few months older and has asked more questions related to bathroom activities and toiletry. She did very well with mommy on Sunday, hitting the potty two out of four peeing episodes. I think this was because my wife would sit her down on the potty every few minutes whether she said she had to go or not. Even a blind squirrel can find a nut with that kind of help. The point of potty training is for my daughter to recognize that she has to pee, and then tell me she has to go. She does not seem to realize this yet. She tells me after she pees, if she tells me at all. When I asked her at least a dozen times before her first accident on Monday, she always said, “No.” While she was watching Sesame Street, I left the room to do some dishes. I kept checking in to ask her if she had to go and “No” was the answer every time. Then she peed on the floor. “Daddy, I pee peed!” Awesomesauce.
I changed my strategy a little bit after the first accident. I put her on the potty every fifteen minutes whether she said she had to go or not. It worked for my wife, right? Not for me. She would just sit there and do nothing. Three accidents later – before nap time, mind you – I called it quits again. She had peed on the rug. She peed on the floor. When we went up to her room to play, she even peed on some books after I just asked her if she had to go! I had to stop before she ruined all of her toys!
I had tried everything, motivation with stickers and marshmallows, big girl underwear, bare bottom method, even just leaving her on the potty for extended periods of time. Nothing was working. After doing a little research, I discovered that she’s probably just not ready. Not ready? This was unacceptable! She is a really smart kid. She can recognize all of the capital letters of the alphabet. She speaks in full sentences. She has various songs memorized, and can sing them verbatim. She knows what an octagon is! There’s no way my kid isn’t ready for this! Right?
I suppose it’s possible that we were selfishly trying to get her to act beyond her capabilities for our own peace of mind (And budget! Have you seen the price of diapers?!). My wife was particularly disappointed that she will not potty train early. I tried to assure her that our daughter will be potty trained before Kindergarten. That didn’t seem to alleviate her concern, but I quickly pointed to several articles by respected experts in the narrow field of potty training, and we agreed to stop until my daughter shows more signs of readiness. I really hope it happens before Kindergarten. I have heard that wearing diapers at age five can really make it difficult to make friends. At least she didn’t poop anywhere.