Potty Training

My three year old is several months past the generous deadline my husband and I imposed for potty training. Generous when one considers his brother and sister were finished several months before their third birthdays and the milestone required very little effort on our part. My daughter, barely two and a half, stood at the top of the stairs in our house and announced that she wanted to wear underwear. DONE!  Our middle son, just a few months older than his big sister was, used all his mighty strength to pull a step stool over to the toilet, placed the training seat on top, climbed up, and then called for my husband to inspect the evidence. FINISHED! Two for two before three! We were feeling pretty good, and could never imagine that the little guy would be any different. WRONG! Birthday number three came and went and Jesse clinged to his diapers for dear life.

The words of my former pediatrician keep ringing through my mind, “they train themselves.,” Well, Jesse has no interest in training himself, he seems perfectly content with a super absorbent paper product gripping his groin 24-7.  We are well over budget on diapers at this point, too; my daughter is going to have to forego those private violin lessons she wants until her baby brother decides he’s tired of those monthly Costco runs for giant sized boxes of pampers. Who new paper could be so expensive? I am not beneath charity. The last day of pre-school as we were emptying the children’s cubbies, one mother laughed as she saw the bag of diapers she had stored in the cubby last September. “I guess I won’t need these anymore.”

“I’ll take them!” I said eagerly, trying to calculate how much money I would save.

My shrinking bank account aside, I am simply eager for this stage of parenting to end.  Well meaning friends and amateur shrinks have offered strategies to address his pee and poop reluctance.

“Bribe him,” a friend suggested. “What’s his poison? A cookie? A piece of chocolate? A lollipop?” This friend clearly hasn’t noticed his svelte figure. My toddler does not crave sugary treats, which leaves Mom and Dad with no currency to shape his behavior. This of course leaves me feeling sorry for myself, that I have the only kid in the world that doesn’t light up when the car breezes past Ben and Jerry’s. Perhaps I should bribe him with broccoli?

“Threaten him.” This from my nine year old daughter. Now, this may not be sound parenting, but the truth is she is the only person who has had any success in getting him to go. Once, when left in charge of him while Dad was working in his home office, she noticed him trying to push. She was in the midst of changing his clothes for a night and told him she wouldn’t dress him until he went on the potty. So he did. And despite lots of fan fare and a parade in his honor down the driveway and back he has never repeated this feat.

“Peer Pressure,” his teacher said. “They all start to go when the kids in their class go.” Well, if this is true, Jesse can skip DARE in fifth grade, cause ain’t nobody going to pressure my boy. He coined the phrase, “Just Say No.” I noticed when I was in his class the other day, there was a constant traffic in and out of the bathroom, but Jesse seemed unmoved. Never the less, when Jesse developed a man crush on a little boy in his class, I thought I would try this tactic. After all, that’s how I get him to school in the morning. “Will Jacob be there?” he asks. A yes sends him running to the car. But when I applied this to potty training, “Do you want to go potty, like Jacob?” he simply looked at me and said, “No.” Apparently his devotion only goes so far.

Another friend had the idea that if he owned it, he might be more willing. She suggested going to pick out underwear that had a picture of his favorite character to encourage him to at least try them. Great idea, but not when your favorite character is Dora and Strawberry Shortcake, which for obvious reasons are not manufactured in briefs for boys. And should he choose to march around in girls’ panties as an adult, that’s his business, but I won’t be party to this behavior.

The only other character he worships with as much fervor is his older brother, and believe me, I have been searching the internet for a company that will custom make underwear with an iron on picture of his brother across his butt. No luck so far, but maybe once he is trained, I can earn back all the money I spent on diapers with a custom design toddler underwear business for reluctant potty goers.

The other day, while shopping in the GAP, I had a brief moment of hope when Jesse yelled “Look Mom, I am peeing!” and he proceeded to pull down his pants and make a sound that vaguely resembled urine hitting porcelain. Of course horrified shoppers and salespeople stared me down waiting for me to react, but Jesse’s diaper never came down, as I knew it wouldn’t. However, it did give me a glimmer of a hope that perhaps this play acting was the first step toward a brand new toilet ‘tude.

We have been back to the GAP several times since that hopeful moment and each time he has faithfully pulled down his pants to expose his diaper and pretend to urinate. I am actually considering renovating his room to look like the children’s section of the GAP. Alternatively, I could get him a job there, from which he would certainly be fired, but hopefully not before he learned to love underwear.

What will it take, I do not know. Well meaning acquaintances often share their horror stories about recalcitrant trainers who hit age four or even five before shedding their diapers. It helps to know it could always be worse, but I am rapidly approaching worse. In the meantime, I am off to stalk mothers everywhere emptying their child’s cubby and looking to dump unneeded diapers on a desperate bystander!

Published in: on June 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

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