I’ve had this post started and sitting in my drafts for a long, long time. Since September 8th, be exact. The day I quit potty training. Let me tell you a little about it.
For months, Evalyn has been showing signs that she’s “ready”. Everything from interest in the potty (like, major interest … almost obsession. She plays potty with her dolls, is so intrigued when other kids are going and always wants to pretend to potty), to asking to go potty, to praising me for going potty, to telling me when she is going to/has gone pee or poop. Tons of people told me that I should start training her, that they were certain she was ready and that once she got the hang of it she would catch on it no time at all. And I thought they were right. I thought all of these things as well. So, I bought us some big girl undies, we talked about the undies, we talked about going potty all the time, I showed her how I go on the potty and so on and so on…
After our labour day getaway to Nana and Papa’s cottage, I decided it was time to hit potty training square between the eyes. We had a long string of days with no commitments and so I vowed to become a hermit and stay at home, put away the diapers, bust out the big girl undies and take her to the potty every 15 minutes and blah blah blah blah.
Well, let me tell you – it was a disaster. A major, major disaster.
Don’t get me wrong … I don’t have my head in the clouds. I don’t expect potty training to be a complete breeze. But, friends, I do expect it to be easier than those few days were. It was horrific.
The first day, she went through twenty one pairs of underwear. No, we don’t own 21 pairs. I did a load of emergency laundry part way through the day. She was dribbling non stop all day long. Somehow, don’t even ask me how, we managed to have a #2 success that very first day right after lunch (let me also say, she had peed and pooped on the potty numerous times before this – but never anything consistent or predictable), but her reaction was less than wonderful. She freaked and did not respond well to the praise or the reward. And that success was the last one we had – despite sticking with the training for two more days. Over the next few days, there were far less accidents. She seemed to have figured out the concept of holding it and peeing all at once, rather than little dribbles here and there all day. She would stay dry for 2-4 hours between pees. The only problem? She never, ever, ever peed on the potty. She would sit on it for 20 minutes at a time, do nothing, walk out into the living room and pee on the floor and then say, “I has to go potty and get a treat now”.
After a while, I was starting to get frustrated. So frustrated. Enough so that I got angry, yelled at her for peeing, once again, all over my dining room chair and put her down for a nap with barely a song and hug because I was so frustrated and fuming. The look on her face told me she was confused as to why I was mad. And as soon as I left her room, I recognized that my reaction and frustration was wrong, oh so wrong, and entirely unfair to her. I was ashamed of myself for acting that way and getting her in trouble for something she couldn’t understand or control. I am not proud to admit these things – but this is real life, and I’m telling it like it is.
So right then and there I decided to call it quits. We were done. No more potty training for now.
When I made the decision to call it quits for now, I was hard on myself. So hard on myself. I thought it was a major parenting fail. But then the more I thought about it and after a few conversations with some wise moms who I highly respect, I realized that my decision to wait a while longer was more of a parenting success than anything.
It is a success because I was able to find the balance between being persistent and not giving up and recognizing that my child is not ready. It’s a ‘success because it means I am setting aside any pressure I have felt from others to get her trained and trusting my instincts as a mother to know that despite her verbal articulation of all things potty related, she just isn’t quite there yet. It’s a success because it means I’m taking into account the entire picture and doing what is fair for both of my children. It isn’t fair to pressure Eva before she’s ready and it wasn’t fair to Gwen to be constantly ignored over those few days while I raced back and forth with Eva to no avail. I even unlatched her and left her screaming a few times as I rushed to get Eva on the potty. It is a success because I’m letting her take the lead and follow her cues rather than forcing something that’s just not there yet.
So, sure … it would be nice to have one kid out of diapers but for now, that’s just not happening. We’ll get to it again … eventually. And when we do, when she’s ready, really, really ready… I know she’ll rock it. Besides, as one of the wisest women I know said to me during our first ordeal, “Don’t stress. It will happen. Seldom do we see a high school student who is not potty trained”.
So, see ya later Potty Training. We’ll see ya when we see ya.