Pottytraining Parables: Part 1

Our oldest, Emma, has been showing signs for a while that she would prefer not to carry around the (literal) baggage that comes with wearing a diaper. This began with discovering her in the playroom at around 18 months, diaper on the floor, moving a ball of poop back and forth between hands, which, upon my entrance she identified as “to-dough!” (play dough). After a handful of incidents like this she learned that poop is stinky and yucky and would simply pull her diaper to the ground and take off running without touching it. These days she will actually come to me, diaper still in tact, and tell me she has “stinky poo poo” so I can change her. Considering the afore mentioned alternatives, we call that a win.

Most of what I have read about potty-training suggests a 3-day boot camp where the child is either naked or wearing underwear so that each time they have an accident you can direct them (haul them kicking and screaming) to the potty to finish or say “Oops! You had an accident!” and remind them that pee and poop go in the potty.

We have been talking to Emma about the potty for a while, taking her with us when one of us goes, etc. and somewhere, deep in the recesses of my soul, I prayed the whole thing would just sort of fall into place and we wouldn’t have to do conventional potty training.

See, I’m kind of a non-conformist when it comes to these kinds of things. Read: lazy. I didn’t read any parenting books before Emma was born. I didn’t force a schedule on her or do any sleep training until she was well into toddlerhood and I was starting to look like this:








And being that my child is (obviously) different and bright and special, I naturally assumed that using the potty would be an intuitive next step for her. That she would go to sleep one night pretending to be a puppy and wake up the next morning and say “Good morning, mommy dearest. Pour me a cup of coffee while I run to the loo. Light on the cream.”

Well, since that hasn’t happened (yet) and I began pulling double diaper duty when our son was born almost a year ago (excuse me while I mourn how quickly time passes), I decided to take a stab at boot camp this summer while I was off work and had the time.

Since Emma loves being naked, we decided to go that route. We kissed daddy goodbye as he left for work, I poured myself a big cup of coffee, and settled onto the floor so I could watch her like a hawk all morning as she played naked in our bedroom. I set her little potty in the middle of the room, filled my pockets with gummy bears for rewards, and flipped on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Yawn. Easy breezy.

Problem #1:
There was a shiny, new object in the room, which, by default, was deemed TOY.


It was going well.

I guess our very levelheaded decision to remove the bedazzled pink princess potty from our Amazon cart one week earlier “because she’ll just think it’s a toy” was all for naught.

Nevertheless, she eventually lost interest and went on playing with other things.


The first accident. Nope, that’s not pee.

IMG_7925 (1)

And that would be Gus’s chubby little hand, not Emma’s, that dumped Mommy’s coffee all over the floor.

The tough thing about potty training readiness is that as long as they are wearing diapers, you have no idea how long they can, or usually do, “hold” it. Apparently, beneath those Mickey Mouse underpants Emma had become a “holding it” CHAMP. Finally, a couple hours in, she looked down and squatted slightly in front of the t.v. “This is it!” I thought. “Don’t get scared now.” (Name that movie)

I grabbed her, enthusiastically talking about how we “tinkle in the potty” and sat her on hers. When she tried to get right back up I did everything I could to distract her, just to keep her there long enough so she would eventually go (including, but not limited to, singing, dancing, and phsycial restraint).

She wasn’t having it.

When she stood up, there was a tiny, lone drop of pee in the bottom.

Or it was my sweat.

Or my tears.

Nevertheless I chased her, waving gummy bears at her like a crazy person.

Problem #2:
She doesn’t quite get the “reward” concept yet.

Nor does she like candy, or anything else that would generally be considered a treat for a toddler. Gummy candy is the one exception but apparently, that day, she just wasn’t in the mood.


She played with the two gummy bears for about 12 seconds before dropping them on the floor and running away.

Problem #3:
Emma rarely never stays in one room for more than mmm…5 minutes?

The first few hours of the day this was no big deal, because even though she was running from room to room, she was at least staying downstairs. The majority of our floors are tile or wood, so accidents wouldn’t have been a problem to clean up, and I was close enough to the kitchen and laundry room that I could still be semi-productive. Or at least move piles of clothes and dishes around and pretend.

The problem came when after helping her to several mouthfuls of watermelon to allow for more “teachable moments,” she darted up the stairs. Given that Gus was newly mobile, and couldn’t be left alone to venture up the not-yet-gated stairs, grabbing him (and probably my microwaved-for-the-12th-time cup of coffee) took just a couple beats too long, and, she peed. In the corner of the playroom, creating a nice moat in the foyer of Elsa’s castle.

The oopsie talk and subsequent clean-up didn’t seem to register with her. Like, not at all.

When Daddy came home for lunch we took a break and I put a diaper on her while she ate, which I know you aren’t supposed to do, but whatevs. I really didn’t need the life experience of cleaning pee-soaked chicken nugget remnants out of her high chair. She napped (also in a diaper), and then it was time for round two.

By now the whole thing had become a game. The second she saw me pick up the potty she took off running and screaming. Once again I stayed near her, moving the potty from room to room so it would be close by but it was beginning to register with me that my efforts were in vain. Two accidents later, one on the wood floor downstairs, and one in Jared’s office chair (sorry sweetheart- this is the first he’s hearing of this), I was done for the day and threw a pull-up on her, not entirely sure where to go from there.

At lunch Jared and I had discussed the possibility of holding off a little longer. Nothing about our morning made me feel like she was ready, and the fact that we had a 12 hour drive coming up in a few weeks made us both question if now was the best time (something that had definitley occurred to me, but the pressure of feeling like she “should” be potty trained by now won out over sound logic).

In the end, though we continued talking to her about the potty and giving her opportunities to “try,” we decided to wait until she initiated more interest.

Moral of the Story: Don’t let friends, family, Facebook, Pull-Ups commercials, or your own guilty conscience tell you when it’s time to potty-train. Let your child do that.

*This was a couple of months ago, and we have had some small victories since then. Stay tuned for Part 2!

2 thoughts on “Pottytraining Parables: Part 1

  1. Oh I feel your pain! We did this song & dance of attempting and halting for nearly a year. Finally when our oldest was almost 3 we did the 3-day approach and it worked! It’s not perfect since but at least he’s wearing undies during the day, until we move to naps & nights. I like to think of it as benchmark potty training 🙂 best of luck to you!!


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