It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Two down, three to go

Nigel arrived today, peeled off his own diaper, sat on the potty, and peed. The boy is potty-trained.

It was just about that straight-forward, too.

However, so as not to discourage all the rest of you who’ve never been through this before, let me clarify.

This is not the first time we’ve explored the notion of potty. We’ve played with the idea from time to time for a while now.

I do not push potty-training. See, I am quite, quite confident that all but children with genuine disabilities of some sort will be trained by kindergarten. Will almost certainly be trained sometime during the year that they’re three, in fact, and often before.

I will not, I refuse, to spend hours and days and weeks in intense endeavor, trailing the child, hauling a potty everywhere, overflowing with reminders and pleading, anxious and hovering. It is simply not worth the effort. Whether I put us through that or not, the child will eventually use the toilet. In fact, it’s arguable that a contrary two-year-old will take longer to train when they see how very, very invested that grown-up is in it all.

I know some pundits discourage back-sliding. Once you take off the diapers, they declare, the diapers Stay.Off!!

Pfft. Talk about pressure. What if you’ve misjudged? What if the child is genuinely not ready? I allow for the possibility of back-tracking. We make it very clear from the get-go that we’re just “trying”. We’re “seeing how it goes”. (I do not also say, “If you don’t want to, you can wear diapers.” That’s making the option too explicit, and, contrary little cusses that they are, they’ll go for it more than half the time… No, I’m just lightly casual. Oh, the potty. Just trying this out for now, la, la, la…)

In fact, sometimes, because the child is just too slapdash and laissez-faire about it all, or is taking too long, or is having too many accidents, I decide we won’t continue. I am just not that patient. I will do this even as they tot is declaring their readiness for the task. (Which is fine. They want to “defy” me by piddling in the potty? There are many ways to deal with a toddler. Devious works. Then I can be all happily astonished: “Well, how about that? I guess you are ready after all! Silly me! Good for you!” And they can be all proud and self-congratulatory: “Ha. Stupid woman! Showed you!”)

Nigel has been too hit-and-miss. He was mostly willing, when he thought of it, but he frequently didn’t. Keeping him clean and dry required far too much input of energy from me. That hovering thing. Which I don’t do.

One day two weeks ago, however, Nigel needed Malli for some Important Game, and she was — gone! I explain that she’s upstairs using the toilet, because (oh, casual, lalala…) Malli is a Big Girl.

Nigel bites, totally and completely.

“I am Big, too!” His eyes are wide and sincere. Ha! Excellent!!

I sigh and shake my head with sad regret. “No, Nigel, I’m afraid you’re not. You’re getting big, yes you are, but see, you still pee in your diaper. You won’t be Big like Malli until you pee in the potty. Malli is Big, because she never wears diapers any more.” And I am just so filled with regret that this should be so, but, oh, so sadly, it is.

His wee face falls. Oh, yes! I have so got him!

My voices rises, buoyant with hope and encouragement.

“But you are getting big, Nigel! Soon, you will not pee in your diaper any more! Soon, you will pee in the potty!!!” Oh, the joy! Oh, the exultation! Soon, soon, soon! Yes, yes, yes!

And Nigel nods. “Yes! I will use the potty and be Big!”


That was Friday. Last Monday he arrives. “Okay, Nigel, today you get to be Big like Malli. Today you are going to use the potty!!”

He’s a little taken aback, but, with great confidence I peel off his diaper. Twenty minutes later, we put him on the potty. Nothing. Twenty minutes after that, again. Nothing.

Twenty minutes after that — Houston, we have liquid! Lots of it.

And then I lose the thread, and forget. Which I am prone to do, in my state of constant distraction.

“Mary! Mary, I peed!’

And that is a Good Thing, girls and boys, because when you stop attending, they get to take control. All last week, Nigel stayed clean and dry every morning from arrival till naptime, when we put a diaper on him.

And thus we come to today, after a weekend in diapers at home.

He comes into the house, greets me, hugs his friends, peels off his diaper and pees in the potty.

He’s nailed it. The boy is trained.

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Nigel, peer pressure, potty tales | 14 Comments