It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Potty Time, or, Good thing I have hardwood…

Timmy is being potty-trained. Nigel is not. Timmy turned two about three months ago. Nigel will be three next month.

Timmy? Timmy is interested! Timmy is motivated! Timmy does the potty dance whenever he pees successfully!!! Now, it is not my habit to train children this young. They have to show interest, and, frankly, most of the time the “interest” their parents assure me the child is showing is the parent’s interest, not the tot’s. But Timmy? Timmy is INTO this. Totally.

Nigel? Potty-training just makes him nervous. He cries to have pants on, then forgets he’s not in a diaper and soaks them. Then he cries when you take the wet pants off. He doesn’t do the potty dance, because he never gets it in the potty. He does dance when he pees, though — except when it’s in his pants– he dances when he pees on the tiles in the front hall, he cheers when he pees on the hardwood in the living room, he declares “I PEED!” in tones rich with pride when he floods the vinyl floor in the kitchen.

In short, the boy is a walking flood zone. Which is why Nigel is back in diapers until the New Year, and Timmy is still doing the potty dance.

Timmy, however, does not drink enough. Not nearly enough. I always knew the boy was a bit of a cactus, having to be coaxed to drink at every snack and meal break, but I thought he would be making up for it at home, where he’s still breast-feeding.

Nuh-uh. Now that I’m seeing that pee? Even first thing in the morning, when you’d expect him to arrive tanked up and ready to pour, the pee is dark yellow and strong-smelling. Nothing like Nigel’s healthfully barely-yellow product.

So, once an hour he sits up at the table and has a couple of ounces, and over the day his pee gets lighter and paler. (Mental note: I need to talk to his mother about this.)

But the peeing? Now that he’s getting all that fluid, he’s peeing a lot more. And he takes HIMSELF to the potty. And then he pees. And hollers and cheers and screeches his pride.

“I PEED, Mary, I PEED!!!”

Now, his success rate is only about 50%. Distract the boy in the slightest, with a game, a craft, a snack, any kind of a happening at all, and he forgets. Pee squirts, puddles grow, the other children holler. “Timmy peein’, Mary! Timmy peed onna floor!” And Mary’s house? Is one happening place. So the ratio of potty vs floor piddling? Not so great.

But when he is sitting on the potty? Oh, the Festivities! I clap and cheer. “Yay, Timmy! You PEED.” And we have a little celebratory love-in, me and Timmy. And the love-in grows as the other children, drawn by the joyful noises, gather round. “You knew it was coming, and you went right to the potty! What a smart boy!” And all the little children dance and sing. And there is Great Rejoicing. And Timmy puffs his wee chest and proudly declares,

“I Peed innuh POTTY, Mary!”

And the dancing and singing stops, the rejoicing ceases, a pall drops over the festivities. Because this, my friends, Is A Lie. A falsehood. We would like it to be true, but, sadly, it is not.

Not once in these two days of happy potty times has the boy gotten the pee INTO the potty. He feels it coming, he races for the potty, he sits down, and … he squirts that stuff in a glistening arc ten cm up and thirty out. Well, I assume this trajectory based on the liquid evidence on the hardwood floor. I have yet to actually see it happen.

Why do I not accompany him, you might reasonably ask? Timing. It’s all in the timing. I take the boy, he sits, nothing happens. Performance anxiety? Could be! We’re very relaxed about it all, of course, but it still could be the freezing effect of having someone watching. I understand it happens to the adult version, too. As I would be with the adult version, I am kind, relaxed and reassuring. “That’s okay, Timmy. You can play some more. It will come later.”

And it does. It comes when Mary is up to her armpits in a craft, or preparing lunch, or sweeping under the dining table, or reading to the tots. It comes when Mary is busy, occupied, her attention distracted, until such time as she hears those fateful words,

“I PEED, Mary!!!”

I have tried trailing the boy. Keeping a deceptively casual eye on his comings and goings. Perking up when he heads to the living room, where the potty sits in a cosy nook between music cabinet and wall. I don’t know how he’s managed to avoid my experienced eagle eye for two solid days, but he has. Lightning-fast, that boy. Could be because he’s so slim? Stand the boy sideways, he disappears… But I do watch him, coming and going. I listen for the thud-thud-thud of his constantly pounding feet. And I hear…

“I PEED, Mary!”

With a 50% potty-sitting success rate and a 0% aim, I’m not sure if I’ll continue past this week. I’ll give it to the end of the week to try to train the boy to aim the apparatus south, but if we haven’t managed it by then, I’m quitting till after the Christmas break. He’s enthused and willing, but, invaluable as it is, I need a little more than Good Attitude.

And besides, I’m running out of paper towels.

December 4, 2007 - Posted by | Nigel, potty tales, Timmy


  1. My 2.5-year-old son is potty-training this week. For the third time. Maybe this time it will stick. We also have the aim problem here. Very frustrating for me, and also for Little Man, who finds it tantrum-worthy that he makes it to the potty on time and then STILL has to change his pants because he’s managed to spray all over his pants while sitting on the potty. Sometimes his pants are sitting in a pile a few cm away from the potty and he still gets them wet.

    The solution, if you can manage it, is to get Timmy very interested in watching the pee hit the bottom of the potty. As he contorts his body to see inside the potty, he will naturally orient his equipment to be pointing straight down. Perhaps you can throw a Cheerio into the pot and encourage him to aim for the target, while seated of course!

    Comment by Dragon | December 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. hahahaha! That’s hysterical. I swear, my Monkey “pushes” her pee so hard, she’s going out the side sometimes.

    To Dragon: what, he doesn’t take off all his clothes? I’m lucky if I can get Monkey to keep her shirt on!


    Comment by albamaria30 | December 4, 2007 | Reply

  3. Oh, Timmy. His parents might need to add payment in paper towels!

    We’re finally having a small amount of success with potty training. For a while, we’d say Q was potty trained five days per week (while our nanny was here). Now he’s just intermittently willing to use the potty.

    Comment by Lady M | December 5, 2007 | Reply

  4. Well, we’ve mastered the doodle down rule (our toilet apparatus at home has a little ridge, which I call the “pee guard”, and at daycare, the toddler informed me that one of the ladies told him to hold his doodle down *lol*). We’ve had 2 successful, unsolicited runs to the toilet for a number 2. But at Mr. Hankey: 5, I’m too traumatised to try without pull-ups again.

    Comment by Kat | December 5, 2007 | Reply

  5. Dragon: When I take him, he leans forward. In fact, I should get a picture: he leans forward so far the top of his head practically hits the floor as he peers in. It’s pretty funny. It would seem, however, that this Good Habit is not being practiced on his VERY PRODUCTIVE stealth runs to the potty. Darn it!

    While they’re just learning, I have them wearing nothing between ankle and bellybutton. It’s just simpler. Sometimes, as Nigel demonstrates, having anything on their skin confuses the issue: they react as if in a diaper — let fly whenever! Plus they get the feedback of seeing the pee, even if it doesn’t happen on the potty (sigh), which can help them connect precursor physical feeling and the emergence of pee.

    rpm: We go naked for the first week or two, until I think they have the cause-and-effect figured out. Then we add the complicating fact of clothing. I get the parents to send several pairs of sweatpants: easy up, easy down!

    LadyM: Now there’s a thought. I’m facing day three of the Piddle Olympics, and I confess I’m feeling a small amount of dreariness about it all. Here’s hoping his success rate rises!

    Kat: Well, you have carpet; I have hardwood. I don’t like pull-ups: they feel too much like diapers, and my experience is they slow down the training process. But I know lots of people like them, so whatever works!

    Comment by MaryP | December 5, 2007 | Reply

  6. Clarification to rpm: “We go naked”. That, of course, was the Royal We. I keep my clothes in place while the potty training proceeds. Just in case anyone was wondering.

    Comment by MaryP | December 5, 2007 | Reply

  7. Ha. Pumpkinpie has heard her teachers telling the boys to push it down into the potty when they pee, so for some tie, she was pushing on her own lower abdomen, telling me she was pushing her penis down. Frequent clarification still took a couple of months to overcome that, since she heard the teachers a few times a day at school. Still, she has a couple of times managed to spray forward herself…

    Comment by kittenpie | December 5, 2007 | Reply

  8. Kittenpie: She hasn’t noticed the boys’ equipment is a little different? I’m astonished. I give her another 15 minutes before she spots the difference: it’s a fascination of the age!

    (And, as I learned from Carrien only a month or so ago, girls spray forward because they’re leaning too far back. I’d never seen it happen before!)

    Comment by MaryP | December 5, 2007 | Reply

  9. Was that the Royal Wee or the Royal Wee?

    We mostly have pee down (at 3yr, 2mo, it’s about darned time), but poop. Oh, to get even a single poop on the potty would be simply heaven. Like Kat, we returned to pullups, which pretty much stay dry all the time. Maya wasn’t getting it that the poop in the underwear was gross, and all it was doing was pissing ME off. Not good for parent/child relationship.

    Her current M/O is that she sneaks off, poops in the pullup, then runs to the potty saying, “I need to poop in the potty!” We’re having issues explaining to her that the TIMING matters, and that the poop needs to go to the potty without any layovers in her pants. Any suggestions?

    Comment by Allison | December 5, 2007 | Reply

  10. Mary – well, that was what I was wondering. She knows about the parts, but it seems she was confused about it in the potty context or something. It was kind of odd and funny that thought she bathes with either of us, that shoudl still come up.

    Comment by kittenpie | December 5, 2007 | Reply

  11. I had exactly the same issue with a little boy at nursery – he was 2 and a half. Oh, bless him he knew when he needed to go – “MISS CLAIRE? IT COMIN’!” which was my queue to call, “OK remember to point it down!”

    It’s lucky we had such a good room layout, and he was so vocal about needing to go that I could remind him. “Doodle Down” is so catchy though they’re going to add that to the dance in no time, Mary 😀

    Comment by Claire | December 10, 2007 | Reply

  12. Buy a potty with a higher lip – many potties have a lower side, which is fine for girls to use, and a higher one for boys (of course, girls can use it this way round too). I used this sort for my two boys and I don’t remember one misfire.

    Comment by Z | December 11, 2007 | Reply

  13. I work in a childcare center, and perhaps this only works for me because we have mini child-size toilets, but I’ve actually just taught the boys to stand when they pee. It works a lot better, and they watch it going in. I had a child who just couldn’t catch on to what I meant when I said to push it down, and I couldn’t very well show him, so standing up was a much easier option for us. He was reminded every time for a short while, and now he’s got it down and clothes don’t need to be changed for every potty break.

    Comment by Tiffanie | March 22, 2008 | Reply

  14. Lurking and working my way through the archives, and enjoying very much the fact that the advertizement for this post is for Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.

    Seriously?? I’m laughing. I don’t see the ads, and I don’t know that every reader sees the same ad. I’ve often wondered what’s being posted. Heh.

    Comment by Jackie | March 21, 2014 | Reply

  15. Every time I went back including when the comment refreshed the page it was gone. Just a fluke, maybe, but it sure was a funny one! 🙂

    Comment by Jackie | March 24, 2014 | Reply

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