Life at our house these days involves much talk of bodily functions as Grace is learning to use the potty. We have a book, we have a potty, we have a chart and stickers and reward toys. She is doing really well these days, which is such a relief. She first started showing interest in the potty before we moved, but I didn't put much energy or commitment into the process as we had the house on the market, I was all 1st-trimester misery, we were in the temporary apartment, etc. I was full of excuses, in other words. And I really dragged my feet on getting a little potty, dreading cleaning it with every fiber of my being. (Why does it seem so terrible to me? I use cloth diapers, for goodness sake.) Rob kept insisting that we needed one, however, and I finally relented after we settled in here in Texas. I first went to Target and looked at the potties there, but seriously, people, I could not bring myself to bring one of those abominations into my house. They were all covered in noxious branded characters, or there were gross-seeming padded parts, or they required BATTERIES because they MADE NOISES. WHEN YOUR CHILD PEES.
Anyway, I discovered the much less offensive Baby Björn potty online and I freely admit that Rob was totally right and getting the little potty really helped Grace on the road to panties. In fact, when the potty first arrived, she was so taken with it that I suddenly found myself in the midst of potty training, without really preparing myself for it. I bought panties and we kept a jar of M&Ms in the bathroom and things went quite swimmingly for a few days. Then, however, the novelty wore off as Grace realized, "Wait a minute, you want me to do this all the time?!" She grew disobliging and uncooperative, and the accidents (oh, the accidents!) multiplied. It got overwhelming and I could bear it no longer (and by "it", I mean the pee and poop everywhere). I declared a potty hiatus and put Grace back in the diapers. After my dismay began to fade a bit (about a two week break) I started to again plan, steeling myself and building up my resolve to actually do this thing. I made a chart one night after Grace went to bed and unveiled the new era of potty training to her the next morning. We are about 3 weeks into this second attempt and things are going really well; she is making progress every week, with fewer and fewer accidents and is even starting to tell us when she needs to go. (That chart in the picture is all done now, and our new chart only gets stickers when she asks to go of her own initiative. Well, we are a little indulgent on our definition of "initiative" at this point, but we are getting there. And notice the increase in stickers it takes to fill up a row and thus get a reward as the chart fills up? I amuse myself with such things...)
Potty-training a child has not been one of the more enjoyable things I've done in my life, but at this point, I think we are past the worst of it. And it certainly has been a much faster process than weaning Grace or convincing her to sleep through the night. If she makes as much progress in the next month as she's made in the past month, I think we might be able to officially call her potty-trained (at least during the day) in another number of weeks. Right now, she is wearing panties at home during the day, disposable training pants when we're away from home, and still a cloth diaper at night. For anyone who is curious, buying Seventh Generation training pants online (my favorite disposable diaper brand) is cheaper than any of the training pants at Costco. And they are not printed with mawkish branded characters to boot. I'm doing the training pants for my own convenience at this point; moving to panties when we're out of the house is the next step, for which I need to gird my loins (ha!) and gather the mental energy for. The accidents are very few and far between (multiple days apart) at home and she is almost always dry in the training pants out; she just hasn't quite gotten consistent about identifying when she needs to go. Thus, the training pants to avoid (or postpone, I guess) the moment when I am dealing with a urine-soaked toddler at the grocery store. I know the process would go faster if I gave up the training pants and just went straight to all-panties-all-the-time, but I'm still in training myself, I guess. She's making progress and soon we'll get there.
I went to Target (which, yes, I visit a lot) to stock up on small toys to use as rewards when the stickers fill up to the ends of the rows. I don't troll the toy aisles very frequently because I usually have Grace with me and nobody voluntarily chooses the particular trial that is taking a toddler through such an arcade of juvenile delight. Anyway, I collected an assortment of crayons, little notebooks, those sticky jello-like things you can stick on windows, matchbox cars, watercolor paints, etc. And of course, I was horrified by some of the toys. In one of the "boy" aisles (WHY are there boy and girl aisles?!), I saw these wrestling figures which were brand-named "Untamed Aggression" or something like that and I felt an overwhelming relief that I am not currently responsible for the care and raising of a boy. Not that there aren't truly appalling options for girls as well. "Here, Grace, have a skanky trollop to play with." The world at large does a pretty tremendous job of distorting and debasing what it means to be masculine or feminine, I guess.
Working on the potty training has made me wonder when scatological humor kicks in. Grace's attitude toward bodily functions is so matter-of-fact and solemn, mixed of course with elation at achieving milestones. I distinctly remember babysitting 4-year-olds who thought anything to do with the toilet was HILARIOUS, though, so I guess sometime in the next year and a half the scatological humor will kick in. She is such an innocent for the time being; the depth of her ingenuousness is revealed when I want to laugh at what she says about poop-- me, a 30-year-old woman with a taste for Jane Austen and expensive cheeses. I guess it's not funny until one realizes that it is taboo, and of course I don't really want to teach her not to talk about going to the potty until she first masters telling me when she needs to go.
- Step #1: Learn how to use the toilet.
- Step #2: Learn about it being socially unacceptable to talk about in public and thus UPROARIOUSLY FUNNY.