I’ve told my toddler I’ll buy her whatever kind of underwear she wants when she uses the toilet. I’ve put her on the potty and promised her a vigorous rendition of The Potty Dance, even if she ekes out just a few drops.
Despite my efforts, she has yet to demonstrate any real interest in potty training. (FYI, resisting diaper changes doesn’t count as interest in potty training). And that is fine with me. Here’s why:
My older child, who is now five, started using the toilet at two years old. Over the past three years, I have given hours of my life to the discussion of her bathroom needs.
Do you have to go to? Are you sure you don’t have to go? It’s a long drive. Please try before we go. Can you hold it till we get home? Do you want me to come in the restroom with you or wait outside?
The amount of time and energy I’ve spent on this line of conversation is astounding. I am more than okay with limiting this type of conversation to one family member at a time.
Sometimes I think my older child waits until my grocery cart is completely full to announce she must go to the bathroom. Right. Now. While I realize my toddler might be the type to actually use the potty before we leave the house without being asked, she very well might not be. I’m not a betting kind of woman when it comes to grocery shopping with my kids.
Between lamenting my lack of a commercial driver’s license when maneuvering the car cart, and hating the sound of my own voice saying “No” (no marshmallows, no sugar cereal – no, not even the one with Dora on the box, no getting out of the moving cart), I lack the reserves to manage two children’s urgent bathroom needs.
Gone are the days when I dashed out with my phone, my keys, a Chapstick, and my wallet shoved in my coat pocket. In my current bag, you’ll find all that, plus Tic Tacs (a handy, if sugary, bribe), baggies of sliced apples if I’m on my game, a sack of beef jerky or applesauce pouches if not, a change of clothes for each kid, a pine cone or a handful of rocks someone asked me to “hold for a minute,” plus an Epipen, and a bottle of Benedryl (thank you, food allergies). With this load, what difference do a couple of diapers and some wipes make?
My toddler has food allergies. Looking at her poop lets me see how she reacts to an accidental exposure to an allergen (we try our best, but life happens) or to see how she’s doing when – per our allergist’s recommendation – we purposely introduce a new food to her diet.
Were she potty trained, sure, she might call me into the bathroom to observe her stool before she flushes. Then again, she might not. I’m no expert, but I know my kid. She’s two-and-a-half, she’s scared of monsters, and she loves her stuffed rainbow unicorn. I’m not comfortable entrusting specimen preservation to her just yet.
I try to masquerade as being laid back and efficient…but I am neither of these things. I am, in fact, uptight (I want my house clean!) and lazy (I don’t want to actually clean it!). These qualities don’t lend themselves to diving headfirst into the labor-intensive, messy endeavor of potty training.
Instead of listening to a podcast and making dinner while pretending I can’t hear my kids fighting and decimating the playroom, potty training would require constant vigilance, close attention to both the clock and the child. I would never get anything done.
Meanwhile, because my toddler refuses to use the potty (I have made a few half-hearted attempts), I would need to add cleaning human excrement off my floors to my to-do list. And don’t get me started on the atrocities of managing a poopy underpants situation.
I don’t remember what it’s like to be two years old. But I’m guessing it’s pretty disempowering, even if you’re lucky enough to score caregivers who meet all of your basic needs (and some of your desires, including your demands to wear a tutu and tights in the dead of winter).
You’re at eye level with a typical adult’s mid-thigh. You can be scooped up and carried to an undisclosed location with zero notice and without your permission. You’re at the mercy of grown-ups 99 percent of the time. I don’t see the point of adding toilet use to the long list of things you can’t control.
Make no mistake; this is not just for my daughter’s benefit. It’s for my sanity, too. (See: “I’m lazy,” above.) If I wait until my daughter is ready, potty training will be less work.
My toddler is my second and most likely my last child, which makes her my baby forever. I realize it will be just couple of blinks before I’m putting her on the school bus with her big sister. Diaper changes give me a chance to kiss the velvet skin of her little potbelly, to squeeze her scrumptious thighs, to marvel at her unlined, chubby feet. And there’s nothing quite like the sound of her high pitched giggle when I tickle the back of her knee.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a parent, and I’m confident I’ll make more. I am also confident that the more I try to push my toddler into something, the harder she’ll resist. So instead of spinning my wheels and forcing the potty training, I will wait until she’s ready.
And if she’s still in diapers by the time she starts earning an allowance, her father and I will expect her to pay for them herself.
It takes a village!