It’s Not All Mary Poppins

The Great Potty Adventure

Rory is 30 months old.
Grace is 30 months old.
Jazz is 28 months old.

You would think that somewhere in that group would be a child showing the slightest inclination to toilet training, wouldn’t you? For a good piece of the past week, Grace’s little butt has been anything from bright fiery red through … well, worse. You really don’t want me to describe what that poor mite has suffered.

“It hurts a little bit,” she says as I dab cautiously amongst the raw spots, trying to clean without causing undue agony. (A certain amount is clearly unavoidable, but we’ll avoid the undue stuff, shall we?) “It hurts a little bit,” she says, wincing.

“A little.” Grace is not one for understatement. A small set-back causes an enormous flood that can go on for quite a while. But when her backside is raw and I go tromping through it with a scrubby cloth… it hurts a “little bit”. The stoicism makes me try even harder to go gentle.

I am, of course, talking up the whole “When you’re not wearing diapers, this won’t happen any more!!!” I’m talking to all three of them when I say these things, because Rory and Jazz invariably gather round when I’m changing Grace these days. It would be nice to believe it’s empathy — they’ve both been there at one point or another, but their interest is more ghoulish than kind. Like gawkers at a particularly grisly car accident.

“When you use the potty, your poo can’t hurt your bum!”

So far, no takers.

These kids need a nudge. And a nudge is what they’re going to get. This week, I’m going All Out With The Potty. It’s my week of trial.

And I anticipate it will be a TRIAL.

Because, really, given their ages, I may as well just do it. All three. At the same time.

(I may be insane.)

However, given my preference for late and short, at least it won’t last long. What I do, see, is arm myself with Smarties. (Smarties, for my American readers, are not pastel discs of mildly tangy sugar. Those are Rockets. Smarties are loooovely chocolate-filled, candy coated slightly flattened beads. Yes, like M&M’s… only much, much better.)

Armed with a large bag of Smarties and not one, but two potties, I will enter the potty-training fray. (I don’t own three, and can’t see that it should really be necessary. Right? Right? That mental picture I have of two seated children watching the third poop on my livingroom floor… that’s just borrowing trouble, right?)

I will show them the potties.
I will show them the Smarties.
I will explain the system. Which is, for the first day or so: “Every time you sit on the potty, you get a Smartie!!!”

They like this system. 🙂

And so, every twenty minutes, they sit on the potty. And they get a Smartie. And then they get a drink. (An ounce or two is plenty; they will, after all, be drinking EVERY TWENTY MINUTES.) If they don’t want to drink that much water, they can have juice!!! And at Mary’s house? Juice just doesn’t happen. You’re thirsty, you drink water. You get milk with your lunch. You want orange or apple juice? You eat an orange or an apple. End of story. But for potty training, they get juice!

Smarties and juice? At Mary’s house?!!? It’s all VERY exciting.

The idea being that, after a day or two of EXTREME DRINKING and every-twenty-minute sitting, they will, inevitably, unavoidably, irresistibly, have PEED IN THE POTTY. A day or two later, when they are 1) sitting without resistance (not that I’m anticipating any with this group, but you never know) and 2) we have managed to catch a few pees, the system changes. “Now you will get one Smartie for a pee, and two for a poo!!!” (No, they’re no longer getting them for just sitting. I don’t point that out, trusting the child’s attention will be diverted by the possibility of TWO AT ONCE!!! It always is, mwah-ha.)

Because now that the connection has been made, I’m after intentional peeing. We almost always get to this point the first week. If, at the end of the first week, they still don’t have THE FAINTEST CLUE what this is all about, I just don’t persist. We drop it and try again in another month or six weeks.

I’m watching for awareness, control, intent. When I see that, I’ll let them go longer between sittings, up to 45 minutes or an hour, and when they can manage that, the system becomes less systematic and more organic. When they know what they need to do, and can stay clean and dry for an hour or more at a stretch, I let them take the reins. They can decide when they need to go. I tell them this, of course. “When you feel a pee or a poo coming, you go to the potty. I won’t be telling you any more.”

Most kids are fine with this, and those kids, we call them trained. If you start late, that can happen on day two, but more often it’s somewhere between two and three weeks. (This is for daytime clean and dry. Night-time can lag, sometimes by a few days, sometimes by a couple of months or more. Depends on the child. And that, happily, is NOT MY PROBLEM.) 🙂

I’ve potty-trained dozens of children. I know what I’m doing. I’ve seen it go like the wind, I’ve seen it start and stop before finally getting it, I’ve seen it drag on and on…

But I’ve never tried training THREE AT ONCE.

Ye gods.

As my grandmother would’ve said, “In for a penny, in for a pound!” (Meaning, in this instance, “if you’re going to go, go big!”)

I may be insane.
I will almost certainly be insane a week from now.
But a week. I’m giving it my all for a week, and then we’ll measure progress and see where we go from there.

Wish me luck.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | potty tales | , , | 13 Comments