It doesn’t matter how patient you are, or how well you deal with big changes. Getting pissed on day after day starts to wear on a person. I’m not speaking figuratively here. I’ve literally been peed on more times than I care to count over the past few weeks. Mercifully, I think we are finally out of the woods with potty training our son.
Hendrik is now three years old. Whether it’s a new classroom at his preschool or even a new food he’s never tried before, it usually takes some time for him to get comfortable with a new situation or routine. Most people can relate to that on some level.
What’s interesting is that me and Allison’s parenting approach to change has been more “cold turkey” than “ease into it”. For instance, when his baby sister was ready (meaning, when we were ready for her) to move from the bassinet in our bedroom into the crib in the nursery, it meant that H was getting promoted to the “big boy bed” in the other room. Knowing my son pretty well, I worried that he’d have a hard time adjusting to a new room and an unfamiliar bed.
But on the big night, we brought him upstairs to his new room, tried out a new little bedroom routine, kissed him on the forehead, and walked out. No tears, no hassle. He absolutely rocked it.
There are plenty other examples of that same sort of thing happening, so I think on some level I must have taken potty training for granted. Like, I knew it’d take some work and we’d all be miserable for a few days, but deep down I just knew he’d pick it up in a heartbeat. I mean, that’s what had happened before, right?
Guess what. Potty training is hard. Way harder than I imagined. And why? Well, because he’s three and his aim is arbitrary at best. And why else? Well, because I don’t like getting peed on. Imagine that.
To his credit, Hendrik has had an incredible attitude throughout potty training. He actually sort of likes the routine of sitting on the potty to do his business, grabbing toilet paper (whether he needs it or not), flushing, and washing his hands. He’s downright cheerful about it. As his father, I gotta be honest…it sorta makes me proud. He’s going to spend a significant portion of his life in a bathroom, so I’m thrilled he already has an appreciation for it. Hell, I’m writing this in the bathroom right now.
(You’ll never know if that’s true or not.)
Almost all of my friends have kids older than mine, so they’ve all been through this before. A lot of the conversations I’ve had lately inevitably end up at potty training. My stories are always met with a certain look of understanding. It’s a distinct look. Head slightly cocked to one side, an almost imperceptible smirk buried in their cheeks, a gaze in their eyes that is both amused and relieved it’s not them, and an intimate nod that says, “brother, I’ve been through this three times already and know exactly what you’re going through. Sucks to be you!” Indeed, friend. It does.
However, I’m finding that one of the most important things to remember when potty training your child is that you must stay positive. You simply have to praise your child for every positive step they take while completely ignoring the accidents. You must remain positive when it’s 2:30AM and you’re in the bathroom standing in a puddle that you are pretending is water, but you know it’s not (I mean, it’s definitely water. If it was urine, I’d have to wash my feet, and you know, it’s 2:30AM. I mean, what are the odds it’s urine? Okay, fine, probably 5:1, but you know what, I’m feeling lucky). Avoiding negativity throughout the potty training process will hopefully ensure my son doesn’t grow up with a complex about using a toilet, and it’ll likely keep my blood pressure at a healthy level.
Like I said at the top, I’m pretty sure we’re through the worst of it. I mean, I still got peed on yesterday, but at least I wasn’t in my work clothes yet. Plus, in retrospect, it was kind of fun to celebrate the small things again.
H: “Daddy!! I go pee pee in potty! I did it!”
Me: “Yeah you did! I’m so proud of you. Who wants an animal cracker?!?”
I wasn’t really sure where to put this next part, because it doesn’t necessarily fit anywhere else, but it’s also too funny to cut out of this post. So here goes. There’s nothing quite like watching your kid poop in his underwear, then having to hold his tiny body over the toilet while turning his underwear inside out to drop the contents into said toilet, then cheering gleefully that he pooped in the potty in an effort to create a connection in his brain that pooping in the potty is a really good thing.
He got two animal crackers and four or five Goldfish for that one. Daddy is a little more generous with the positive reinforcement (read: crackers). That generosity backfired, though. Hendrik now only wants Daddy when he poos. Momma’s off the hook.
It’s just one of those things that you play over again in your mind as you’re laying in bed at night. All you can do is laugh at the ceiling, understand this is just what life with kids is like, and try to get enough sleep to deal with the crap again tomorrow. ♦