Adventures in potty training

With Anya, I did everything by the book, including potty training. At the first sign of interest (when she was 18 months), I went out and bought a potty chair. She used it as a step stool, and took the foam seat off and wore it as a hat on many occasions, but I don’t think she ever pottied in it. She was a big girl, you see, and big girls use the toilet.

So I bought her a cushioned toilet seat adapter. Printed out potty charts, gathered rewards (stickers, temporary tattoos, marshmallows), bought training underwear and pull-up diapers, constructed a potty time schedule, and got to work. And eventually she got to the point where she only needed a pull-up at night. When she was nearly 4. So I invested a LOT of time in potty training.

With Kai, I have been more relaxed. Diapers are actually easier for me, especially on outings. No having to abandon the shopping cart for a potty break. No “Mommy, I gotta pee” when we’re 15 miles from the nearest restroom. No having to carry a portable toilet seat adapter (which I still have, from Anya’s younger days) and Lysol wipes in my already-too-heavy purse. Way fewer accidents, leaks, and blowouts. I’ll gladly wipe a poopy tush if it means I don’t have to scrub poop stains out of toddler underwear. (I have been known to throw severely soiled underwear away.) So while Kai has a potty chair — which he picked out, because it has lights and plays music and even has a handle which you can “flush” — and we have talked to him about using it, I haven’t actively potty-trained him. His sister’s tried a time or two, but she has a short attention span, so it was more an exercise in brother-sister bonding than anything.

Well, now all of a sudden he’s decided he’d like to use the potty. He’s recently learned how to undress (and dress, but he prefers nudity), which is likely a related factor. So he strips down, uses the potty chair (I’ve relocated it to the kitchen so I can keep an eye on him while I work), takes the chair apart, empties the basin in the toilet, then reassembles the potty chair. And demands his treat — sometimes Easter candy, sometimes gummy fruits. Occasionally he puts a new diaper back on. Usually he skips that step, because it saves time the next time he needs to go. The other day I counted 5 successful potty uses. Not that he never has accidents, but he’s pretty much got pee-pee down. It took him roughly a week on his own.

Poop…well, that’s another story.

He’s pooped on the carpet and summoned me to clean it up. He’s removed his poopy diaper and run around the living room with a bare, poopy-smeared tush, which meant I had to wash everything washable in the room that was within range of his rear and Chlorox-wipe the rest. He’s pooped in his diaper and dumped it on the carpet. And played in it. He’s also pooped directly on the carpet and played in it. When I say “played in it,” I mean he’s taken the little balls (he’s been a bit constipated…thank goodness) and rolled them down the slides in his play sets. He’s tucked them away inside toys, like some demented Easter egg hunt. He’s also run over a (mushy!) poop with a toy school bus. Around 20 times, from the looks of the bus. He assured the bus, as I was cleaning it, that Mommy would “make it better” — even patted it, like it was crying. So I’ve had to hide the thing until I can buy a new one, because I cannot, in fact, make that mess better.

I no longer wait for him to tell me he’s pooped; by then, the damage has been done. When I get the first whiff of feces, I drop everything and investigate. And usually I’m still too late.

He did, one morning, actually poop in the potty. I know because he brought me the potty basin as I was getting ready. And there was cheering, and treats, and I even snapped a photo to text to his dad. (I somehow stopped myself from posting it to Instagram.) But later that day he was back to pooing on the carpet.

So carpet cleaning has been added to my to-do list.

Still. All too soon, he will poop in the potty each time. Then the toilet. Like his sister before him, he will slide down that greased chute between babyhood and childhood so fast, it’ll make my head spin. And this time I don’t have a newborn to soften the blow. So I’m trying to maintain my patience during this stage. It won’t last. None of them do.

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