I am the mother of three toddler boys. We have been in the 'season of potty training' for 9 months now and there is no end in sight. I have spent more time covered in poop than I thought I would and more hours being frustrated with my boys than I would have cared to spend. I am tired and need a little rant about this precious and fleeting time in my boys upbringing. This is a letter to my boys and indeed to all toddlers everywhere whose parents are just plain fed up with this whole learning to use the toilet thing...
My Dear Potty Training Toddler,
Let’s get a few things straight. This was not my idea. Changing your diaper was easy, relatively clean, and you and I got into a really good routine. There was minimal damage to furniture and not a whole lot of spreading the mess around, if you know what I mean. BUT NOW, with you learning to use the toilet for yourself, you seem to think I have some hidden and sinister motives for bringing you to the bathroom to deposit your waste in that white water-filled bin.
I think it is important for me to lay out my qualifications to you as someone who knows about using the toilet so that you can begin to build more faith in me and what I say in this matter. Since I am your mother, I would think that deep trust would be implied, but I guess we could go deeper—I will try to hold back the tears. For starters, I have been using the facilities for decades and I haven’t had an accident in quite some time. Also, I have read A LOT on the subject—quite a bit more than you actually, which you may find surprising since you have read the ‘boy uses potty and feels proud of himself’ literature countless times.Here are some of the things I have learned from these books, articles, webinars, and university courses: You might be potty training too late and it also might be too early, but regardless, it should take three days. If I put you in big-boy pants, they will teach you to use the potty. Sticker charts, candy, prizes, song and dance parties, outings, and mystical poop and pee parties in the plumbing are all great motivational tools. Even if you pee all over me and my most prized possession, I must champion your urinary independence because it is imperative that I am not negative in any situation as I could cause major psychological issues down the road.
On another note, my practical research—a.k.a YOU—has resulted in a nebulous time-table, unsalvageable cartoon-themed big-boy pants, both public and private parental breakdowns, and a total void of knowledge of what actually motivates you. As for the psychological issues, I guess, in your case, only time will tell. In my case, I think the evidence is clearly pushing me towards a future relationship with Nurse Ratched (Random literary reference for you, I'm sure you will read it in school one day).
Now, I don’t like to have poop in my underwear, but you might be different. Just communicate with me, dear one. I wish that you would tell me when you have pooped in your pants. I mean, ideally you would tell me BEFORE you do this, but for some reason it is hard for you to know when you have to push out a big one and only after it happens do you have the physical evidence to know that it happened. But even with this evidence, you do not use it to your (and my) advantage. I ask you before I help you pull your pants down if there is anything in there and you nonchalantly say “No.” You can see how this is misleading when poop falls out onto the floor, your clothes, and my feet. I know it may seem like a fun substance to play with, but I really and truly don’t see the appeal.
When I was pregnant with you, I imagined the special messy moments that we would have together. You know, mom stuff, like you tracking mud through the house, spitting up your peas, or splashing in the bathtub (picture a fuzzy glowing montage full of smiles and laughter). What joy, what bliss! No one ever discussed sheer the amount of...sheets I would have to change, or shirts I would have to lose because they are covered in your feces. I guess no one told you either. All the more reason for us to try to face this together.
I am sorry for the times that I have yelled, have put my head in my hands and cried, or have openly expressed my feelings of hate towards the more messy situations in which we have found ourselves. It is nothing against you. I just hate poop. So please throw me a roll, and cooperate when I ask you to pee before we leave the house.
Thank you in advance for working with me on this. I predict that we will have you potty trained in a few years, based on the nebulous advice I get from other parents. They all say that most kids don’t go to kindergarten in diapers, so I am going to adjust my expectations and be prepared to spend a few more years as your toilet buddy.And most importantly, remember that, in spite of all my rantings about...shifting expectations and poo, I love you little one. Whether you use the potty or not. But please...use it, ok?