Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Potty training 101

Last week, while I was sleeping off a particularly vicious episode of vertigo, Danny inadvertently started potty training while Nana was babysitting. Danny was running around naked and I just told her where the potty was. He had several hits and misses.

When I came downstairs, he excitedly told me that he'd put "peep" in the potty. I figured maybe he'd be ready for the training pants. So I put some on him.

"Pull them down and then go sit on the potty when you have to pee," we told him.

He ran down the hall, got on his potty and just sat there smiling at us. Turns out he was peeing in his training pants while sitting on the potty.

All we could do was laugh. I needed a good laugh at that point: about three hours earlier I was lying on the floor waiting for reinforcements to arrives as the room spun around me and my stomach churned. Meanwhile, my son begged me to read a book and my daughter crawled over me as if I were merely a speed bump in the living room.

Obviously, it will be a while before we can use training pants with him. And with my vertigo episodes becoming more frequent, I don't feel like I can be very consistent about this just yet. Naked time will have to be all outside for now, too, since my nightmare is that our daughter will be crawling through any puddles of pee that I miss.

I do dread this stage. Every kid in Danny's playgroup is potty trained to some degree. To be fair, he is the youngest in the group and he's much smaller than most boys. Upon learning of our pregnancy with Danny, one of my first thoughts was "Oh crap, eventually I am going to have to teach another human being how to use the toilet." Doing this still seems like the most monumental of all tasks, the one most likely to devolve into a battle of wills between parent and child. Confrontation is not my thing, really. (Yes, I know it seems like I could and very much want to tear people a new "one" sometimes, but I'm really a pussycat.) Some mothers tell me that potty training turned into a battle of wills and they still have issues with the potty trainee. Others tell me that they tried off and on half-heartedly, usually when another baby was on the way, but ultimately, potty training was led by the trainee.

For months, we've been talking to him about where pee and poop come from, how it comes out, where it could go instead of diapers. He went through a stage of sitting on his little potty and even the big potty to read books, but never actually peed in the potty. We have one photo of him with the one poopy he put in the potty. (We're saving that one for his future wife!) I've even gotten some books from the library about potty training. The latest one is called "Even Firefighters Use the Potty." Of course, I didn't prescreen this one and found that there are cartoon drawings of big burly, hairy men (policemen, fireman, construction workers etc.) sitting on the potty. This borders on too much information for me, but Danny enjoys it. About once a month, I would let him be naked around the house and yard to gauge where he was developmentally. He started noticing recently when the pee was coming out, even when he had a diaper on.

Potty training is one of those areas where I really hope that my core belief in child led-development can prevail. (Oddly enough, though, my parenting philosophy can swing wildly between a my-way-or-the-highway attitude and a more hands-off approach usually depending on how much sleep I've had.) I see Danny getting smarter and more sophisticated every day in his thoughts and how he expresses them. And here is where I will walk the fine line between letting him take the lead in discovering the functions of his own body and how to emulate the adults and knowing when to begin reasonably expecting him to perform this task.

Wish us luck.

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