Shortly after a baby turns one and smashes his celebratory cupcake, people around him begin using the phrase ‘potty training’. ‘When do you think you’ll begin potty training?’ ‘When should we start potty training?’ ‘Have you started potty training, yet?’ ‘How’s potty training going?’ Etc.
And the older the child gets, the more this phrase works its way into everyday conversation, like a fast-approaching deadline without an actual date attached to it. Come to think of it, that might be helpful….if babies arrived with Cabbage Patch like pieces of paper that included little dates by which each should have their toilet training completed.
Because unless you’re a highly motivated individual, deeply burdened for the future of our landfills, or eager to save $25 a month, you can almost always find some reason to defer the training experience. ‘I’m pregnant’ (used that one for the Gort), ‘we’re about to go on a big roadtrip and I can’t fathom squeezing a potty in the car or, conversely, stopping every two minutes to accommodate a precariously trained toddler-bladder’ (used that one for the Hen). The excuses might be more mundane, too, ‘it’s Tuesday,’ ‘it’s too hot’, ‘maybe next month’.
But eventually motivation will come. Perhaps in the form of your sister’s innocuous questions: ‘so, have you tried potty training the Hen again?’ Or in the form of a preschool application that specifies in bold print ‘must be toilet-trained, no pull-ups or diapers allowed.’
Or maybe your child will leap from the bathtub announcing ‘I have to pee’ and sit on the toilet and pee, thus forcing you to concede that the time has come.
Which is why I found myself one morning, two weeks ago, not-so-secretly replacing the Hen’s Huggies #5 with a pair of Thomas underpants. This caused the professor a fair bit of anxiety as he despises potty training even more than I do. At the first sign of soiled underoos, he releases a very annoyed sigh and mutters something about how we should just do this ‘later’
Like, maybe when the Hen is 4?
My better half actually called me at work one time during the Gort’s training days, asking: ‘is it okay if I throw away a pair of underwear? I just….can’t….’
On the third day of the Hen’s diaper-less regime, we went to a friend’s house for a playdate.
I made sure he peed before we left the house. And, forty five minutes after arriving at our friend’s house, I went to check on him again. His pants were completely wet. Really? On the fifth day of the no-diaper regime, we went to another friend’s house for lunch. I had taken the Hen to her bathroom when we arrived, and he’d peed, very cooperatively.
But, in the middle of lunch, he mysteriously left the table. Ostensibly to go ‘read’ in the living room. It dawned on me – too late – that I needed to check on him. Sure enough, he’d dropped ‘the deuce’ as my very eloquent husband calls it.
I thought about calling Jason and asking him if I could throw away a pair of underwear.
Last week we stopped at a friend’s house for coffee. Nearly two hours later, it occurred to me that I hadn’t checked on my blondie. At precisely the same moment that I went to check on him, he walked downstairs towards me. With wet pants and socks. We departed a few minutes later,with the Hen wearing a shirt, underpants, and snowboots.
Along with occasional bouts of public humiliation, potty training also brings with it a marked increase in ill-clothed children exhibiting strange behavior (aka boy-children running around the house without underpants.) The Hen has gotten remarkably adept at taking off his Thomas underoos, but he is rather un-adept at putting them back on. Tonight he stood bare-bummed in the kitchen, for more time than is socially acceptable, whilst trying to squeeze both legs through one of the holes in his underpants.
‘It’s not right,’ he concluded.
When he’s not trying to decipher the intricacies of big boy underwear, our three year old can be found pelting his baby brother in the face with said underpants, or shoving them onto his little head, like a hat. Something the two oldest boys find absolutely hi-larious.
If you want insight into the male psyche, observe the behavior of a three year old newly potty trained boy. Watch him as he proudly invites his older brother to come and gaze upon his spectacular ‘deuce’. Study him as he races to the potty, repeatedly, to expel the human equivalent of a mouse dropping…..
…just so he can play another ‘Batman’ game on the computer.