Hmmm…this title might be a bit misleading. Potty training and the clown show we are currently performing are loosely associated, at best. Since the ideal outcome of both is a child who uses the toilet instead of their pants to relieve themselves, however, it’ll suffice to call our efforts potty training. It’s not that our efforts aren’t genuine or that we are apathetic or lazy in this endeavor, it’s just that attempting to train our independent,
stubborn strong-willed daughter to do…well…anything is generally met with an admirable but frustrating resistance. Plus, when I hear the word “training,” I can’t help but picture a rolled up newspaper and a nose pushed near a pile of poo. It may be effective for our furry friends, but it doesn’t seem very nice or appropriate to do this to a 23 month old girl. Although we might just throw her outside the next time she has an accident (KIDDING! It’s way too cold).
We’ve witnessed the
horrors feats of potty training in those around us and it wasn’t until several months ago that I came to the realization we might actually have to embark on this enviable journey at some point. During my pregnancy with Hazel, I apparently entered my email for something somewhere in the vast spam-o-sphere of internetland because I have since received countless monthly email updates with baby tips, advice, milestones, “what to expect,” and other garbage. I ignore most of these because we already know EXACTLY what we’re doing at all times and are basically pregnancy and parenting experts who don’t have time for these measly pointers. Besides, other than the glaringly obvious and concerning milestones, a lot of them are variable and subjective and at different points make you feel like the best parent in the world (“My kid rolled over a whole month early – they’re superhuman!”) or like you’re mucking up their development (“My two year old is supposed to be using utensils regularly, but prefers to shove applesauce in her face by the fistful. I have failed her for life”).
Every so often, though, I will open and peruse these unwelcome inbox-fillers, and I’ll never forget the 18-month update. I skimmed through with a growing ego as I silently checked off my amazing toddler’s accomplished milestones with ease. But then came the unexpected: ‘Your baby may show interest in or have already have started potty training.’ What the…? REALLY? 18 months? I was shocked, to say the least. This couldn’t be accurate. Any potty-trained 18 month olds were probably Doogie Howser-type genetic freaks or their parents must have withheld affection and meals until their darlings had consistently dry, white-glove tested bottoms. I likened these tots’ existence to that of the elusive Bigfoot or the Chupacabra. Debatable.
At the least, however, it sparked the thought of having Hazel out of diapers before college. We knew with her demeanor it would have to be on her cue, at her doing and with her interest, but we knew it could happen….eventually.
Fastforward to a few weeks ago (because I’m rambling…again…and not in a cool Allman Brothers way). Hazel developed a heinous diaper rash overnight and despite everything we tried, it didn’t seem to want to heal. The best treatment? Nudity. Much to her glee, we have been letting her hang out sans pants as much as possible and allowing good ol’ air and nature treat her nasty ailment. Though letting a normally diapered tot run amuck is about as relaxing as a game of Russian Roulette, we thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce Hazel to the porcelain throne.
Our flawless routine encompasses sitting her on the potty at various times a day, urging her to tell us when she has to potty and then singing/dancing/applauding/cheering/hugging and acting-a-fool anytime she obliges or has a successful void. Our reactions probably resemble that of a lottery winner or an audience member during one of Oprah’s ‘Favorite Things’ giveaway, but really – who needs a new car when you could have a 2 year old that no longer poops their pants?
Last week I had a minor disaster – to which the title alludes – that I’ll consider a memorable hiccup in the marathon (definitely not a sprint, people) of potty training. I was letting her air out per our current prescription/plan. I sat her on the toilet for a trial run. She proceeded to sing and laugh and grunt with enough enthusiasm and vigor to make a World’s Strongest Man competitor jealous. Not surprisingly, it was all an elaborate and humorous act that failed to produce our desired results, but it was an attempt nonetheless. I let her down and invited her to come downstairs to play while I folded laundry. While in the laundry room I peeked out at her – seemingly every several seconds – to ensure she was playing safely and happily and not trying to feed Curry, our pug, any more of her toys. All was well and status quo when on the last glance something seemed…off. She was still singing, happy and as far as I could tell without a sharp object in hand or having swallowed any corrosive materials. Her stance and movements, however, seemed…awkward and uncomfortable. I closed the dryer and hustled out to witness….the prairie dog. She was prairie doggin’ it and at this point half-limping in a failed attempt to hold in the very mess we had been trying so desperately to prevent. I tripped/lunged in her direction screeching, “Nooooo……waiiiiiittt…..grossss!!” In one swift swoop I swung her over my shoulder, sprinted to the bathroom – not even 10 feet away – and plunked her down on the toilet. It was too late. Tragedy had struck. Her leg and foot, and now my shoulder and hair had fallen victim to her apparent incontinence. Failure. Seeing the panic in my eyes and showing obvious remorse, I downplayed my disgust for my new shirt accessory and tried to downplay my initial reaction. “Its okay, it was an accident. We’ll get there next time. Just tell mommy, okay?”
While doing damage control and cleaning up the carnage of her lower half and my upper, I examined the evidence and – CSI style – concluded there had to be more to the mess. The shape, the consistency led me to believe there was more to the scene. Setting her back down I rushed out to the downstairs living area where she had been playing. I scanned the carpet, walked slowly over every tile, analyzing every bit of grout. I even caught myself lifting up furniture – as if she had the time or strength or desire to leave a dookie under the loveseat? I searched high and low and, to no avail, found no messes.
Sighing with relief and thanking the stars I wouldn’t have to bust out the carpet cleaner, I suddenly locked eyes with our beloved pug on the opposite side of the room. He paused, seemed to give a silent nod of acknowledgement and…..licked his lips.
If you learn anything from this story and you choose to go with our nudity method, just be prepared to take (crap) matters into your own hands. Our efforts have been about 10% fruitful, and at the current rate we project Hazel might reach 100% by 4th grade. And that’s okay. We are patient, not pushing her, and genuinely thrilled with and celebrating even the littlest of successes so far.
You may, however, want to monitor any pets in the vicinity while undertaking this gamble.
[FYI: Don’t get grossed out. She wasn’t dropping a deuce or anything in this photo….she was serenading me, kicking her heels and asking when she could flush.]