Iâ€™m sitting calmly on the sofa in my living room right now.Â Iâ€™m sipping on a newly poured glass of wine (and Iâ€™m fairly certain that if I was driving and got pulled over I would be arrested for drunk driving because the three sips Iâ€™ve had have gone straight to my head due to the fact that I’ve had no food today).
Iâ€™ve debated now for a couple of hours whether or not I should write about my day today.Â Â The mere handful of you out there who even knew I was attempting this big step in toddler-hood have, by now, received an email or a text from me that simply said, â€œDisaster.â€ Â I know that handful of people well enough to know you would not reveal to another soul that I triedÂ this today and failed.Â I also know that the next time I see any of you, you will either not bring it up at all, or you will console me and convince me that the reason my child is not diaperless tonight is only becauseÂ the timing was off and certainly not because of anything I did or didn’t do because I am the perfect mother and should never think otherwise.
That being said, my hesitance in letting the whole world know about my inadequacies is because there will be some of you out there who will feel the overwhelming desire toÂ share with meÂ what I should have done today and where I went wrong.Â You will alsoÂ feel the need toÂ tell me stories of your ownÂ successful potty training experience with your childÂ (so that I can learn from your infinite wisdom and have success the next time myself), even if it was decades ago that you did this–and you probably have reinvented the story in your mind so that itâ€™s better than it actually was.
I’m sorry to be so harsh, but let me take this opportunity to inform you that I donâ€™t want to hear it.Â I donâ€™t like people like youÂ right now, although I am certain that the only reason for this is because I am worn down, sensitive (and apparently slightly drunk).Â On the flip side, if you wish toÂ share with me a time in your life where you felt you might have ruined your childâ€™s life in one way or another when they were young, only to eventually find out that your child turned out just fine in the end, then bring it on.Â I will welcome the commentary.
I have chosen to write about my day because I refuse to falsely come across as a mother who never feels afraid, and also because I feel sure in a few days (or maybe a few years) thisÂ story will make me laugh.Â AndÂ because IÂ believe this,Â Iâ€™m sure it might make you laugh now which will bring me great joy.Â I enjoy it when other people laugh and feel joy, and if itâ€™s atÂ my expense, so be it.Â
I will start at the beginningÂ because you needÂ to understand the turn of events that led up to today.Â
About three months ago, BrittainÂ began to show signs of â€œinterestâ€ in the potty.Â She would acknowledge what I was doing when she would see me on the potty and she also began to announce when she was tee-teeing or pooping in her diaper.Â Signs of interest.Â Hmmmâ€¦could she possibly be ready to be potty-trained?Â IÂ did some quick, but thorough, research on potty chairs and called Dan oneÂ evening before he left work and asked him to pick one up before he came home.Â He arrived home that night and he placed it back in the guest bathroom.Â
After dinner, IÂ carried Brittain back to the bathroom and pointed out HER potty.Â I sat her down on it briefly with her clothes on.Â And that was it.Â We went about our business and began playing in the living room.Â What happened next was surprising to all of us.Â In the middle of her playing, she stopped and crawled back to the bathroom.Â Note the word â€œcrawlâ€ here because no, she wasnâ€™t walking yet.Â Dan and I gave each other a strange look and fortunately he had the wherewithal to follow after her.Â As for me, I was frozen in shock and therefore couldnâ€™t move a muscle.Â I could hear the conversation that ensued which began with â€œDo you want to use the potty?â€ and then â€œYay!â€ (because she actually did use the potty).Â The two of them came back to the living room with big smiles.Â Seriously?Â This is going to be easy!Â
The next hour was spent making phone calls telling this good news to anyone that might care.Â The next couple of days were no less exciting as she continued to ask at times if she could use her potty.Â I did some fast decision making in the 48Â hours that followed and decided thatÂ sheÂ was ready to beÂ officially potty trained (even though she was only 17Â months old).Â On the recommendation of several people I purchased the book â€œToilet Training in Less ThanÂ a Day.â€Â I heard many success stories that came from the methods used in this book, the main one being my own parents whoÂ trained both me and my sister in one day successfully.Â Â However, after reading the first chapter in the book which discussed whether or notÂ your child was ready, and also about the group of children they tested these methods on, I made the executive decision to put this off until she was 20Â months old since the youngest child tested in the book that had had success was this age and no younger.Â In the three months that followed, I left the potty chair out for her to see, but I never pressured her to use the potty.Â There were a few occasions where she would ask to tee-tee in the potty in which case I would help her with her diaper so that she could do this.Â There was also a time recently where she went back to the bathroom, removed her own diaper and proceeded on her own.Â Â Now that was funny.Â
The time had come.Â She was 20 months old and we had a Saturday approaching where there were no plans.Â Dan was working, so I would be able to offer her my full attention.Â It was potty training time.Â I completed the reading of the book.Â IÂ gathered all of the necessary supplies: a doll that wets, plenty of juices and anything else sheÂ might drink,Â candy and snack foods to use as â€œprizesâ€ when she would use the bathroom in the potty.Â IÂ had myÂ worksheets ready.Â One was to write down the times of the â€œpants inspections.â€Â These were toÂ take place every 5 minutes until she startsÂ self-initiating the potty trips, then everyÂ 15 minutes after that.Â The other was a â€œPrompted Toiletingâ€Â sheet where I was to write downÂ each time I prompted her to go to the potty.Â TheÂ steps wereÂ etched into my brain.Â I will give you a brief summary of the steps:
1.Â Have your child â€œtrainâ€ the doll to go to the potty.Â This entails giving the doll some water and thenÂ setting her on the potty to tee-tee.Â Praise the doll.Â Have a â€œpotty partyâ€ if you will.Â Get a piece of candy out to give the doll.Â WhenÂ theÂ child asks for the candy, ask the child, â€œCan you tee-tee in the potty like the doll?â€Â The child should answer yes so you give the candy to the child.Â (Itâ€™s a goodÂ first step for them to say that they WILL do it).Â
2.Â Make the doll have an â€œaccident.â€Â When your child feels the dollâ€™s pants and sees that theyâ€™re wet, you say without raising your voice or sounding angry, â€œNo, doll.Â BigÂ girls donâ€™t tee-tee in their panties.Â Mommy doesnâ€™t like for you to tee-tee inÂ your panties.â€Â (This is to show your child thatÂ you still love them if they tee-tee in their panties, but they need to learn to tee-tee in the potty.)Â You then have the child do â€œpractice runsâ€ with the doll.Â 10 times to the potty from different areas in the house.Â Â Itâ€™sÂ basically 10 trial runs to the potty because this is what youâ€™re going to do with your own child when she has an accident.Â 10 times, really?Â A 20-month-old is going to have the patience to run back and forthÂ to and from the potty, pull their pants down, sit on the potty, pull their pants back up and then do it all over again?Â Can a 20-YEAR-old do this?Â Â Â Okay.Â Moving on.
3.Â You then start the same sequence with your own child.Â You do training pants â€œcrotch checksâ€ every 5 minutes (and also have them feel their own training pants crotch).Â You reward them with a piece of candy and drink each time their pants are dry.Â You also prompt them every 15 minutes to use the potty where they are supposed to go to the potty. They are supposed toÂ pull their own pants down and sit there quietly until they start to urinate.Â Give them praise and more treats if they go to the bathroom.Â As I mentioned above, if/when they have an accident, you do the 10 â€œtrial runsâ€ to teach them what should have happened when they needed to go to the bathroom.Â I have to say it againâ€¦really?Â Trust the book.Â I trust the book.Â
The book states that the training should last 3 to 4 hours.Â By the end, the child will be able to recognize when they have to go the bathroom, take themselves to the bathroom, pull their own pants down, use the bathroom, wipe themselves, empty the pot into the toilet, then flush the toilet.Â Okâ€¦I believe part of that.Â
I spent some time last night doing some last minute reading online.Â Any hot tips from any other mothers?Â Anything I shouldnâ€™t believe in this book?Â Tell me now or forever hold your peace.Â
I woke up this morning confident and positive about what was to come.Â I was in a different boat than most parents going into this.Â My child knows what a potty is, has used it quite a few times, and is quite comfortable with the potty itself and the thought of using the bathroom in it.Â We began our day like any other.Â Brittain woke up at her normal time, I changed her diaper and then warmed her milk.Â We sat on my bed while she drank her milk and watched Disney channel until she was finished.Â We then got up and brushed our teeth.Â It was after this that I told her what a fun day we were going to have.Â I told her that she was going to learn how to go to the potty by herself and be a big girl.Â I then told her I had a prize for her which is when I presented her with the wetting doll.Â She was excited about the doll and was anxious to hold it.Â I let her hold it and then I presented her with her â€œbig girl pantiesâ€ which were nothing more than a pair of training pants.Â I removed her diaper and slipped the training pants on her.Â Wait.Â They fit her perfectly and the book said to make sure they were loose-fitting so they could easily pull them up and down.Â Fortunately, the book suggested cutting small slits in the sides so they would loosen up.Â I took them off her and cut the slits.Â I put them back on her.Â WAY too big.Â Thatâ€™s okay.Â They were loose and were staying about half-way over her behind.Â They will do.Â I have four pair.Â I should use them sparingly.Â
We then walked into the bathroom where we began giving the baby her bottle.Â Uh-oh.Â THIS doll starts IMMEDIATELY peeing when you give it water.Â Crap.Â Letâ€™s improvise.Â â€œOH!!!! (quickly sitting the baby on the potty) Look at Penelope (the dollâ€™s name) go to the potty!Â What a good girl she is!Â Yay, doll, yay!Â I think Penelope deserves a piece of candy, donâ€™t you, Brittain?â€Â (She nods yes.)Â I pull out a bite-size Three Musketeers (Brittainâ€™s favorite).Â â€œHere you go, Penelope.â€Â Brittain wants the piece of candy, of course.Â Yes, exactly what sheâ€™s supposed to do.Â â€œBrittain, can you tee-tee in the potty like Penelope?â€Â â€œYes.â€Â â€œOkay, well here, you have the candy.â€Â (Yay.Â This is going so well).Â
The next step is to make the doll have an â€œaccident.â€Â This was easy since the dollâ€™s diaper was already wet.Â I point it out to Brittain.Â â€œUh oh.Â Penelope tee-teed in her pants.Â She had an accident.â€Â I hug the doll and say, â€œNo, Penelope.Â Mommy doesnâ€™t like it when you tee-tee in your panties.Â Big girls donâ€™t tee-tee in their panties.â€Â I look at Brittain and tears start streaming down her face.Â This REALLY upset her.Â Hmmmâ€¦I donâ€™t remember reading in the book that this could happen.Â I spend the next 15 minutes calming Brittain and the doll is promptly put out of sight.Â Okayâ€¦moving on.Â
We go into the kitchen where I can start pumpingÂ Brittain full of liquid (so that she will have to tee-tee a lot).Â I offer four different juices.Â â€œNo, no, no, no.â€Â Omg.Â What else do I have?Â â€œCoke?â€Â (and not the caffeine-free kind).Â â€œYes.â€Â Crap.Â Thatâ€™s what she wants.Â Well, itâ€™s not alcohol.Â Refer back to the book. â€œGive them ANYTHING they will drink.â€Â Ok.Â Drink the coke.Â That coke was gone in no time.Â I start giving the 5-minute dry pants inspections.Â She was doing great.Â Yet, each time I knelt down and felt her crotch and then asked her to feel her own crotch and then said, â€œGood job, Brittain.Â Your pants are dry!â€, I looked up only to see a teenager standing in front of me saying, â€œReally, mom?Â Are you serious with this?Â You do realize that Iâ€™ve pulled my own diaper off and used the bathroom in that potty many times, right?â€Â (Keep in mind that Brittainâ€™s communication skills are advanced.Â I felt that I was doing things well below her level of comprehension.)Â â€œOkay,Â sweet girl, youâ€™re doing so good.Â Tell mommy when you need to tee-tee in the potty.â€Â â€œOkay.â€Â
A few minutes passed during whichÂ I gave a verbal reminder each 45 seconds.Â I kept my eyes directly on her and never looked away.Â Iâ€™m pretty sure I almostÂ burned aÂ hole through her skin with my piercing eyes.Â I saw a strangeÂ change in movement.Â She was suddenly up on â€œall foursâ€, and before I could say, â€œDo you need to go pottâ€¦â€ I saw a piece of poop land on the floor underneath her. (Iâ€™m pretty sure thatâ€™s the most ladylike way to say that).Â What?Â Iâ€™m fairly certain I didnâ€™t read about this in the book.Â Think.Â Think quickly.Â What do I do?Â I swoop her up,Â but not before she starts crying.Â Iâ€™m supposed to take her and sit her on the pottyÂ and say to her, â€œNo.Â THISÂ is where the poop should go.â€Â Do I still say this?Â Sheâ€™s clearly upset.Â Very upset.Â Nope, this was SOOOO not in the book.Â Itâ€™s only 5 steps to the bathroom, and in this case it only took 3 because I wasÂ taking long strides to miss the 2 piles of poop on the floor.Â I sitÂ her on the potty (clearly whereÂ she didnâ€™t want to be).Â Sheâ€™s still screaming crying, â€œMommyâ€¦hold youâ€¦hold you.â€Â Am I seriously supposed to be speaking to her in a calmÂ voice saying, â€œNo,Â honey, this is where the poopÂ is supposed to go.â€Â Instead, IÂ use the time that Iâ€™m trying to clean the poop off of her, me, and the floor just saying, â€œItâ€™s okay.Â Itâ€™s okay.Â Itâ€™s just poop.Â It was an accident.â€Â Â I try making my way into her room so that I canÂ clean up the piles of poop.Â No.Â This was not going to work.Â Â Apparently, my cleaning it up was a reminder that she did this, so I had to leave it for the time being.Â We changed training pants (just let them be tight this time) and moved to another room so we could be calmed.Â Yes, I said,Â â€We.â€Â
Once I figure out that Brittain has recovered, I start back with the process.Â â€œBrittain, tell mommy when you have to tee-tee, okay?â€Â I also continue with the pants inspections, but allowingÂ a little more than 5 minutesÂ to elapseÂ so that I donâ€™t completelyÂ insult her intelligence.Â Iâ€™m watching her closely.Â Looking for a weird body movement, anything.Â I mean, whatâ€™s going on?Â Â Before today she would announceÂ when she was tee-teeing.Â Suddenly she starts, â€œNo, no, no.â€Â â€œWhatâ€™s wrong?â€Â Tee-tee on the floor.Â I swoop her up again and I take a couple of steps (long steps againâ€¦still avoiding the poop) and she begins SCREAMING.Â She is going nowhere near the potty.Â Iâ€™m cursing the book in my mind.Â Where was THIS example?Â Okay, okay.Â We donâ€™t have to go to the potty.Â I slip off the wetÂ training pants and decide to putÂ on a pair of pull-ups (on her, not me.Â although I think i could have used them at this point).Â I have only one more pair of training pants and I need a few minutes to think.Â Itâ€™s very obvious that if I put the last pair of training pants on her, then she will very likelyÂ use the bathroom in them and then Iâ€™m screwed for the rest of the day.Â I put the pull-ups on her and I get her calm again.Â Another 20 minutes later I then start again.Â Â â€Brittain, will you tell Mommy when you need to tee-tee in the potty?â€Â Â AsÂ she nods her head and says, â€œYes,â€ IÂ hear an audible sound of tinkling.Â Yes, she just tee-teed in the pull-ups.Â I smile at her and say, â€œThatâ€™s okay. Youâ€™re doingÂ so good.â€Â I grab my phone and text my mom: â€œDisaster.â€Â Here are the texts that follow (and follow carefully the apparent misunderstanding of the word â€œstepsâ€) :
Mom: what the heck.Â r u stopping? i txtâ€™d aunt susan not to interrupt til we heard from u.
Me: no, not stopping but only 1 more pair of clean training pants.Â trying 2 do steps but its upsetting her 2 badly.Â just cries.
Mom: dont do steps.. only fun.. nothing to upset.. use the pullups. i seem to remember u wearin nothing during training except shirt
Me: pullups 2 much like diapers. cant feel it if she pees. the steps r what makes it successful. might as well stop if i donâ€™t do steps. she wont go near potty now.
Mom: u have read different stuff than me. the steps r not what makes successful. did u read dr. phil short article? just sent it to you. i know she might be reading your tenseness too. dont worry bout it. totally drop it if u r correctly assessing it. i found a great seat to use when traveling i think but u certainly dont need to teach her that or steps today. im not dressed or i would get more pants right now. hope u r not just pannicking
Me: i have 2 poop stains and 1 pee stain on my floor, she screams when i take her 2 the potty, and when i tell her she will get a prize if she tee tees in potty she stands right in front of me and pees. but of course its ME thats pannicking unnecessarily. i read the same book yall used with us written in 1971.
Mom: read both emails.Â look, iâ€™m trying to help. iâ€™m NOT BLAMING U!!!!
Me: well, i wonâ€™t be able to be the one that trains her again. everything says that the same person canâ€™t do it again since thats the person that it didnâ€™t go well with. lucky me. i get to be the one that fails.
Mom: ok. you are doing great. want a margarita? the thing with 5 stars is adhesive toilet seat covers. LOVE THAT. You have almost 4 months to think about this again. meantime, if she starts training self, we can have these adhesive covers to use at home or on foldup chair with steps..and have that set up in the bathroom without saying a word. sheâ€™ll be curious.Â
And thatâ€™s the end.Â Oh, those two sheets of paper I had made up entitled, â€œPants Inspectionsâ€Â and â€œPrompted Toiletingâ€? Neither a word nor a check mark was entered on either one.
A couple of funny things about this string of texts:Â My mom read the word â€œsteps.â€ Â She told me later she thought I was referring to some kind of ladder or something leading up to the toilet that I had decided to throw into the mix.Â She tried to sound supportive when she had really wanted to say, â€œHave you lost your mind?â€Â I was thinking she had lost hersÂ when she said â€œthe steps are not what make it successfulâ€ which was basically saying,â€Throw the book away!â€Â I was thinking, â€œIf I donâ€™t have steps, I donâ€™t have anything!â€Â (We later had a phone conversation where we cleared up this misunderstanding.)Â
The other funny thing for me was that as I was dealing with a child who wouldnâ€™t even LOOK at the potty, much less urinate in it, my mother is suggesting travel potty accessories to use while weâ€™re away from the house.Â Seriously?Â Iâ€™m worried that my child will never go near a toilet for the rest of her life and my mother is choosing Dora the Explorer potty seat covers.Â CAN WE PLEASE FOCUS HERE?????
It was here that I decided to back off.Â I get Brittain to change her pull-up (yes, she had tee-teeâ€™d many times since i put the pull-up on her), but she says she wants to stay in the buff.Â Fine.Â Be naked.Â I inconspicuously follow her around the house, continuing to give her Coke (still the only thing she will drink).Â Iâ€™m waiting.Â Waiting for her to have to pee.Â She still wonâ€™t go near the potty.Â I had to change that.Â I switched it up a bit and got a piece of candy.Â I took her to the potty, sat her on it, and gave her the piece of candy.Â At this point I was just rewarding her for sitting on the potty.Â I didnâ€™t care whether she peed in it or not.Â She didnâ€™t tee-tee, but she did sit on it.Â Over the next 30 minutes she continued to go back over to it and sit, but only for a second (at the most) and then she would pop back up and go about her business.Â
At this point I was leaving it alone and I figured it was best to go back to business as usual.Â I called Aunt Su Su and Mimi and told them they were clear to visit.Â I felt it was important for Brittain to know that everything was the same.Â Everyone still loved her.Â Her using the potty or not using the potty had no bearingÂ on the way anyone felt about her.Â Mimi and Aunt SuSu arrived and Brittain was still walking around in the nude.Â By this time it had been a little over an hour since she last urinated.Â I had continued to give her liquids and she now had another full Coke along with a few ounces of juice.Â Her stomach was twice the size of her entire body.Â I thought that all three of our bladders were going to burst FOR her.Â Just for fun, we continued to keep the conversation about the potty.Â We would say, â€œI think Iâ€™ll go use the potty because I will feel SO much better.â€Â Unfortunately, it didnâ€™t phase Brittain a bit.Â After about 2 1/2 hours none of us could stand it.Â We anticipated that the way this was going to end was that she would: (1) explode; (2) fill the entire house with an inch of urine; (3) tee-tee in a diaper if one of us would eventually put one on her.Â I broke down and broke out the Mickey Mouse #4 diaper.Â Relief.Â I do believe we ALL felt it.Â She was herself again.Â
Yes, so SHE was herself again, but I was not.Â I looked (and smelled) my house which resembled a war zone.Â I looked (and smelled) myself.Â I was wearing the same pair of yoga pants I had worn to work yesterday and also slept in.Â The tank top I had on had been clean when I put it on this morning, but now reeked of urine as I had dried pee on the entire left side of it.Â My eyes looked as if I had been on a 3-week drinking binge, and my hair was a nice combination of oily and tangled all at the same time.Â Would someone mind watching over my child while I go to the bedroom and cry for about 4 hours?Â I had the same feeling come over me as I did 16 months ago when I had to stop nursing Brittain because I wasnâ€™t producing enough milk.Â Iâ€™ve failed my dear child again.
Of course my aunt and my mother had to leave (as if they have their own lives or something), and there I was with Brittain by myself again.Â Iâ€™m tired, Iâ€™m weak, Iâ€™m weary.Â She walks up to me, raises her arms and says, â€œHold you?â€ (which is, by the way, the way she has always meant, â€œHold meâ€).Â Okay.Â She still loves me.Â She doesnâ€™t think her mommy failed her.
I hold her for a long time and we watch Laurie Berkner videos (a favorite Noggin artist of hers) on You Tube on my laptop.Â I am tired.Â She is tired (but also slightly wired from the massive amount of caffeine and chocolate).Â But she sat there still in my arms as if to let me know that it was all going to be okay.Â
Â Dan got home from work at about 6:30, and I was finally able to take a shower.Â I came out of there still feelingÂ worn down, but at least I had clean clothes on.Â Brittain approached me again asking me to hold her, so I did.Â IÂ warmed her nightly cup of milk and headed back to the bedroomÂ whereÂ she could drink it andÂ wind down.Â She finished her milk (and since she was still a bit wired) she continued to play with me on the bed.Â She was so funny as she climbed on me toÂ bounce and then pointed out my nose, ears and eyes and paid special attention to my stomach (which she loves to call a â€œpillowâ€).Â IÂ watched her and realized that she was going to be just fine.
So, the potty training didnâ€™t go as planned.Â So what?Â We spent the day together and we survived it.Â And I know that sheâ€™ll wake up in the morning just as she does every other morning, and we will continue life as we know it.Â I have to look around andÂ wonder, out of all the people I know, who still wears a diaper and isnâ€™t potty-trained?Â OhÂ yeahâ€¦NOBODY!Â Okay.Â Iâ€™ve calmed down now.Â Sheâ€™s okay.Â And, Iâ€™m going to be okayâ€¦especially now that Iâ€™ve finished this glassÂ ofÂ wine.Â Â
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