It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Potty Adventures, Day One

Materials: three toddlers, one potty, a timer, a big-ass bag o’Smarties, and a jug of apple juice.

Method: Sit bare-bottomed toddlers on potty, reward with Smarties, then refill toddlers with watered-down apple juice. Repeat every 20 minutes.


At the end of day one, my evaluation would be that:

— Grace is most likely to be trained — fully trained, able to get herself to the potty on her own without any adult intervention or encouragement — within a week or two.
— Rory appears not to have one single clue about what we’re after
— Jazz arrived so seriously sleep-deprived after two weeks’ holiday that she mostly slept, so I have no assessment of her to offer


It’s early days.

Grace is a very passive little mite. She might continue to need reminders for … months, frankly, though I’d certainly rather not. But it’s well within her character.

Rory might yet get it. That Big Dramatic Pee he had while seated at the dining table yesterday, pee rolling across his chair, soaking his thighs and splashing to the floor might be the event that puts it together for him.

“Oh, THAT’s what it means when I feel this…”

I’m hoping. I might be woefully naive, but that’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see if the penny drops today.

And Jazz. Well, she slept FOUR AND A HALF HOURS yesterday, so perhaps she will be more awake and able to participate today. (Two and a half in the morning, two in the afternoon. This from a child who hasn’t napped in the morning for over a year. When I said “seriously sleep-deprived”, I wasn’t exaggerating. But she looked a whole lot less paler and trembly when she went home than when she arrived, so that’s good.)

Rory and Grace were very interested in the potty. And they were VERY interested in the Smarties. Rory was a little uncertain about the bare-bottom-edness, but made the adjustment without fuss, and then appeared to forget about it… except for his happy discovery that going pants-free makes it REALLY CONVENIENT to play with his bits.


“Rory. You’re not going bottom-less so you can play with yourself all day. Let that thing go.” (Wholly predictable, of course. Boys and their toys. What can you do?)

They had three hours in the morning between arrival and lunch. Three hours (180 minutes)/20 minutes = 9 potty opportunities. (Equals nine Smarties!!! Times (mostly) two children = 18. Plus the one I took each time, bringing it up to 27. Hey, I need fortification, too!)

Good thing I bought the big bag…

At the end of all that, Rory had peed in the potty precisely … not one time. Though when I asked, “So, did you pee?” He would cheerfully say, “Yes!” And then we would all peer into the EMPTY potty.

“Um, no, sweetie, you didn’t. There’s no pee in there.”


Rory’s capacity is prodigious, and his ability to hold it admirable. He sat on that potty three times an hour all morning, and it was not until we sat at the table for lunch that the floodgates opened. It was the noise that alerted me. The Niagara Falls of pee rolling off his chair and onto the floor.


As I swing him by his armpits from the dining chair to the potty, I chirp out cheerfully, “Pee goes in the POTTY, Rory. When you need to pee, you run sit on the potty!!” And he sits, and of course nothing happens, because it’s all splashed over the chair and the floor. (Yes, still. You didn’t think I stopped to clean it up before putting him on the potty? Ha. The point is the POTTY. The pee will be there in two more minutes. Unless, of course, Daisy gets at it first. In which case, NOT MY PROBLEM. Ha!)

And Grace?

“Did you do a pee, Grace?”
“No. I dih-yunt.”

And she knew this WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING!!! Rory could look into the EMPTY potty, and be sure — SURE! — that he had indeed peed. So, one point for Grace.

Two or three times later.

“I did a pee!”
And she did! And not just a whisper, a drizzle, a driplet of liquid, but a real, decent, full-bladdered pee. Which means she can hold it. Yay!

Grace produced two good-sized pees yesterday morning. No accidents. No false claims of production. Grace, it would seem, knows what it feels like to have a full bladder, knows how to hold it till she gets that far, knows to release it into the potty, and knows when she has or hasn’t done so.


But Rory is not out of the game yet. He’s still interested, he’s still game to try. So game that, unlike Grace, he will sit on the potty without being told. Which I guess means that he sat MORE than 18 times… and still didn’t manage a single pee in the confines of the pot. Initiative, 1; Efficacy, 0. You win some, you lose some.

I first discovered his initiative on my way downstairs from having tipped Grace’s pee into the toilet. Tipped the pee, rinsed the pot, trip lightly down the stairs, round the corner into the livingroom, and there is Rory, SITTING ON THE POT-FREE POTTY.

We have all experience the Universe’s wry sense of humour. What are the odds that THIS would be the time Rory managed to actually PEE IN THE POTTY? Pretty great, I figured. If it’s going to happen, NOW would be the time. Just so the universe can snigger at me.

“AGH! Rory! Off the potty!”

Sober second thought suggested that I shouldn’t have reacted with quite so much fervor. Way to go, Mary. Make the boy REALLY TENSE when he sits on that thing… if he’ll sit at all. Bah.

“It’s okay, Rory, you were just trying to pee! I’m sorry I shouted. I was just surprised. It’s good to pee! Only we need to make sure this bowl is in there, so the pee doesn’t spill on the floor. See?”

I smile winningly. Please don’t be traumatized. Please, please, please…

He stands, somberly staring. Rory has a very practiced sombre stare. He stands, watches me slide the pot into the chair

please, please, please

watches me slide the pot into the chair, and sits back down again.

I think I heard some angels sing. Or at least hum a little.

“I can have a Smartie now, Mary?”

Ah. Smarties. No matter what trauma the day may bring, Smarties make it all better.

Pass that bag, would you?

October 4, 2011 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, potty tales, Rory | , , , | 5 Comments

I was wrong

Ha! Not very often you see me say that. At least, not about toddlers. You might even want to write it on your calendars. In other areas of my life, I’m much more self-deprecating… but you guys don’t see those bits. Here on the blog, I am a bastion of self-confidence. (Bet you just want to smack me some days, huh?)

But when it came to Noah and the potty, I was wrong. I was dubious that he was ready to train. His parents were ready, no doubt, cute little over-achievers that they are.

(They ARE! The cutest damned pair you’d ever want to see. She’s slim as a willow twig and has these enormous gray eyes, and a confident yet soft-spoken demeanor. He matches her body type in a masculine way, and he’s got the greatest grin, which generally accompanies the most engagiing laugh. And together? They’re adorable. I love this couple to bits. Every time I see them I fight the urge to squeeze their cheeks and coo “You’re just so cuuuute!” Much as I do to their son, except with him I don’t fight it. Seems I am now of an age now where I’m beginning to get maternal about the parents, at least the younger ones…)

But anyway. They said Noah was ready. I was dubious. He may have been ready physically, but I didn’t think he was there mentally at all. I’d seen no signs of that whatsoever. No talking about his functions, nor even any particular awareness of it happening, no complaining when he was wet or soiled — though if you asked him if he had a poo in the diaper, he generally knew — no response when I brought out the potty. Oddly enough, there’d been a glimmer of readiness some months prior, but since then, nothing. Nothing. So me, I thought the impetus was entirely theirs. This was mom and dad’s idea, mom and dad’s energy was driving this thing.

And when that’s the case? It can go bad in a big way. Power struggles that go on for months. Constant accidents. Children who hide in closets to have their poo. Crying, screaming, tantrums, stomping of feet and tearing of hair. Sometimes the child does that, too.

But not with Noah.

Now, I still may have been right that the energy for this project originated with mom and dad, not Noah, but they lucked out. Not only is Noah a smart little guy, but he’s also gentle and cooperative. He was a bit bemused at first, but he never got contrary, never dug in his wee heels. And he TOTALLY bought into the whole Smarties schtick!

So, no Big Bad Ugly.

He just… learned to use the potty. In two weeks. (Which is how long it takes, if they’re ready. Maybe three.)

He still needs a diaper for sleeping, but during the day he’s clean and dry, with very few accidents (two in a month) — and no more Smarties, even.

So, there you have it. Once in a while, Mary calls it wrong.

But not very damned often.


November 30, 2009 Posted by | Noah, parents, potty tales | , , | 6 Comments

All pooped out

smartiesLittle Noah is totally potty trained, and the thing that tipped the scales for us was not the infamous pee-bottle, but Smarties.

Yup. Good old chocolate-y motivator in a candy-coated package. Noah was told he would get one for a pee, and two for a poo. Suddenly, using the potty was very, very interesting!!

After a week of success, Noah was told that he would only get Smarties for poops. No more Smarties for pees.

He took it well, really. Because really, this would cut his Smartie intake by about 90%. A toddler with the will to pee can drink a LOT of water, and make many, many, many pees in day. But poo? Well, there’s only so much a body can poo.

Or so you’d think.

“I haffa poo, Mary!”
“Away you go to the potty, then.”

And yes, there in the bowl is a decent little arc.

“Good man!”
“I get Smarties now?”
“Yes, you do.”
“Not when a pee?”
“No, no Smarties for a pee. Just for poo.”
“Tank you.”

“Mary, I got to poo!”
“You do? You already did one this morning, but if you have to go, away you go.”

There is substantially more wait time and effort for this one, but, after a minute or so, there in the potty lies another reeking rainbow. Smaller than the last one of only an hour before, but definitely a poo. Wonder what he had for dinner last night?

“Mary, I got to poo!”
“Again? Are you sure?”
“Uh-huh. I got to poo.”
“All right, little man. Do your best.”

He sits. And he waits. And he sits. His face is an intensity of concentration, stern and fixed. He waits some more…

“Mary! I did a poo!”
THIS I have to see.

And there, in the bowl… a smidge, a dot, an iota of shit.

He has managed to squeeze out, by sheerest force of toddler will, the requisite excrement.

Smarties are one helluva motivator, I tell you.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Noah, potty tales | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

kinda fun

Out of all the nanny blogs on all the servers in all the internet, they picked mine. (And two others.) I think that’s kind of cool… even though I’m not a nanny.

And a free package of Smarties to the first person to leave a comment correctly identifying the star who famously uttered the quote I was butchering paraphrasing in that first sentence.


August 13, 2009 Posted by | food | , | 6 Comments