Training days in a small world

Note: This column appears in the 12/8 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/9 issue of the Peoria Times

We are currently in full throttle potty-training mode.

Not for ourselves—let me clarify—for our daughter.

I have to admit that this is one instance where foster parenting truly afforded me valuable experience. The first occasion of me, by myself, having to enter the bathroom with our first foster daughter, who we also potty-trained, was one of the most frightful occasions of my life. I didn’t know what to do, what to say, where to stand—should I crouch?—and most importantly, how to enact the wiping process. Somehow, someway, by only the grace of God, I got through it. By the time that little girl returned home, after months of being able to notice the subtle behaviors that required an all-out rush to the bathroom by which I carried her like a football as she insisted she didn’t have to go, I’ll be darned if she wasn’t potty-trained. I’ll be darned.

It wasn’t easy though, and as we approached that special time for our own daughter I became anxious. Our daughter, you see, is like her mother in many ways, but one trait they share in droves is stubbornness. She will fight us to the end on the smallest thing, so I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to this Battle Royale. Because the thing is, kids are frustrating and utterly confounding in many ways, but never more so than when it comes to their incessant opting to go to the bathroom in their clothes rather than in an actual bathroom.

We still have a long way to go, but the early results are shockingly positive. A rewards system and positive reinforcement have seemingly worked well. Our experience, too, has paid off, although I still haven’t settled on the correct father-daughter terminology, so my reminder to “Wipe … down there,” feels like it needs work.

My wife, however, recently decided to take this thing to the next level. She is frequently getting new ideas from the families she works with, and last week she came home with something more than an idea. It’s a small device that you place in a young child’s pull-up that plays a song—in this case, “It’s a Small World After All”—when the pull-up gets wet. When you hear the song playing, you rush to the bathroom.

I don’t really understand this thing on a multitude of levels. For starters, I don’t see how “It’s a Small World” really connects to the urine theme at hand. Second, when you hear the song, isn’t it too late? Third, being rewarded for urinating in your pants with a joy-filled song seems like it would obviously backfire. Fourth, what happens when something surpassing urine is involved? Does it kill the battery? Fifth, who is washing this thing?

At least one of my concerns manifested itself the very first time we tried it, when our daughter happily exclaimed as we rushed in vain to the potty, “I play a song, Daddy!”

I thought we were doing fine, so I am against the introduction of this device. But it doesn’t matter. My wife, like her daughter, will fight to the end for the smallest thing. In this case, the smallest, urine-soaked thing that plays music.


Joe S. said…
We're just now beginning the potty training process with our son (just turned two), too. Every now and then he'll say his butt is "itchy itchy" and needs to "poopoo." Not sure if he knows what "itchy" means, but it works. We've only gotten him to pee three times, but he is EXTREMELY proud of himself afterwards. Still, I can tell it'll be a long process.

We got him a Cars toilet. It has a lever that makes car sounds when you push on it (to simulate a flusher, I guess?) and he likes it enough that he tends to forget he's on the toilet. Seems a bit counterproductive to me - since shouldn't he be aware that's on the potty and thus, it's time to, you know, potty? - but whatever.
mkenny59 said…
Ha, ours does the itchy butt thing, too (so do I, come to think of it). And man, Joe -- you got him a Cars toilet?! That is Father of the Year type stuff right there. Did you have it installed by a plumber and everything, or is it just attached to the regular toilet? These are too many questions that I never planned on asking. Still though, I would probably worry as well that he might start associating actual vehicles as the appropriate place to let loose, but cross that bridge when you get there, I guess. Thanks for the comment and feedback! Hope all is well by you ...