Jerry Mahoney learns to potty train his twins the hard way. Oh, wait, there is no easy way.
Originally published on Jerry Mahoney’s blog Mommy Man.
If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago for a clean, dry place to sit at my house, I probably would’ve recommended one of my kids’ potty chairs. Those were pretty much the only places that hadn’t been peed and pooped on.
Mercifully, since I last wrote about my struggle to domesticate my 3-year-olds, Drew and I have made a bit of progress. And yes, the credit goes to us, the grownups, because we’re the only ones here who seem the least bit disturbed that, thanks to what we generously term “accidents”, our entire house has basically become one giant toilet. My current plan is, when this is all over, we blow the place up and start over — you know, kind of like in that Little House on the Prairie TV movie, the one where they blow the town up and start over.
We really didn’t have a choice but to end our cease-fire with the kids and kick the training back into high gear. It turns out their preschool teacher wasn’t joking about wanting her students to be underpant-ready. We’re not even allowed to send them to school in diapers. The teacher will clean up accidents and put the kids in clean clothes — as long as they happen in underpants. If your kid’s in diapers, he’s on his own.
When I heard this, it sounded to me like someone else was offering to train the kids for us. Awesome. When Drew heard it, he thought we’d failed as parents.
The first day I picked the kids up, the teacher told me that they hadn’t had any accidents. They both obediently sat on the tiny toilets when the teacher asked them to. Bennett even peed. It was hard not to feel like we were being snookered. Why wouldn’t they do that for us?
Like a lot of people have suggested, seeing the other kids use the bathroom really inspired them. No one ever talks about the bright side of peer pressure. When the subject comes up, it’s always about jumping off bridges. Well, from now on, peer pressure, we cool.
School was helping, sure, but the kids are only there for three hours at a time, three days a week. The rest of their lives, I’m the one cleaning up after them. Whatever the teacher and the other kids were doing to my children, it was my job to keep it up when they were with me.
I wasn’t going to settle for a quick-fix solution, and I sure as hell wasn’t going back to that insane 3-day method from the internet. Instead, I decided to do something even crazier: trust my instincts.
There would be no more running through the house to get a kid in mid-pee to the bathroom. I was tired of cleaning up messes that stretched down the entire hallway. Instead, if someone had an accident, I would instruct them to stay totally still, so their mess would collect in one giant, easy-to-clean puddle.
Is it a bit awkward for them to stand still in their own urine while Daddy then runs and gets them a pair of clean underpants? You know what? That’s not my problem.
I was also done with that “Don’t pressure them, they’ll go when they’re ready” nonsense. If you haven’t peed in two hours, I’m sitting your butt on the potty until you’ve got something to flush down the toilet. If you’re dancing around trying to hold your bladder, I’m not waiting for it to explode while you insist over and over that you don’t have to go. I know a ticking time bomb when I see one. Onto the potty with you!
I also decided that I was tired of staying home all the time. Sure, I’m still nervous my kids will have accidents in public, but why should I be punished when I know perfectly well how to use a bathroom like any higher primate should? And why should my kid be locked up for an accident that hasn’t yet occurred? What is this? Minority Report?
Screw it. When we want to go out, we go out. I don’t sit them on potties in restaurants like that nutjob we’ve all read about. Instead, I try to take them to places where it’s OK to let a few pints of urine drip down your leg, should it come to that. Public parks, for example, and… um, well, maybe just public parks.
I even bought some portable potties for my minivan — a blue one and a pink one, of course. We folded down the third row of car seats and basically turned the trunk space into an outhouse. It was a welcome safety net, although one that encouraged the kids to pee in my car. Great, another behavior I can look forward to correcting someday.
We’re on week three of World War Pee, and while there hasn’t been an official surrender yet, the opposition forces are definitely weakening. They rarely complain about going to the bathroom anymore. Sometimes they’ll refuse to go, but that’s usually because they don’t actually have to go. When they do have full bladders, they’ll sit down and get it over with, and then I’ll knock the roof off our house with my over-the-top pride squeals.
Sadly, though, even a victory in World War Pee will only mean an end to conflict #1. There’s still #2 to deal with.
That’s right. Even as they get more comfortable with peeing, they still refuse to do #2 in the potty. They’ll just hold it in for hours, until they finally explode in their underpants and all over the floor.
For now, we let them put on a diaper just on those occasions. It’s better than cleaning up that kind of mess or letting my kids’ colons swell up like overstuffed sausages.
We’re going to wait until the peeing thing is under control before tackling the next phase. Then, an even bigger battle looms:
World War Poo.