A new level of bribery: potty training

March 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 5 Comments
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This is how the potty spends most of its days. Discarded, upturned, unwanted.

Potty training was always destined to be tough, with a fiercly independent 2.5 year old who knows what he likes and likes what he knows.

We’ve only been at it a week or so, but I have blaring ‘parenting fail’ sirens wailing in my head every time I try to prod the situation forward into a more positive and less soggy place.

I flicked through a copy of the Gina Ford potty training in one week book at a friends house yesterday, and while there’s some really sound advice in there, I feel absurdly determined to master this my way.  So far though I am failing as miserably as I did at the high jump at school.  At 5ft 1 and five stone wet through you can appreciate why.

I’ve tried star charts, cookies, an extra book at bedtime, new toys, late nights, no teeth brushing.  You name it, I’ve sunk that low.

A week ago we ventured out to messy play at our local children’s centre.  I went prepared with three pairs of robot pants, three pairs of dinosaur pants, nappy bags to store soiled clothes in, snacks to placate, and a big cheery smile.

I had anticipated at least some finger painting, or maybe an adventure around the sandbox with the digger before the first ‘episode’*.  But no, I had barely dragged, tugged and coaxed him into the room and was already working up an itchy, rashy sweat under my inappropriately chosen pom-pom scarf, when the ‘episode’ began.

Back flat against the door, hands splayed out at his sides, an increasingly large wet patch appearing on pair of trousers #1, and a look of sheer desperation spreading across his face, I prepared my best ‘mummy loves you and will make it all better’ voice.

Crouching down with my puppy dog eyed expression I said ‘well done baby you did a wee-wee, shall we go and make it all better?’.  ‘Yes please mummy’ was the reply in the saddest, most desolate orphan type voice.

We ventured into the impossibly small and inconveniently angled cubicle.  The mind-mangling screaching began the second I tried to pull down the sodden trousers.  The events that followed made me question my decision to begin the potty training phase completely.  What on god’s good earth was I thinking?!

A Dunlop Greenflash trainer down the pan and soggy scarf bobbles later, I swept my carefully curled hair from my sticky face and we surfaced once more.

47 minutes after arriving we ventured out into a mass of children and equally flustered parents and decided to dive into the pool of food-colouring red spaghetti to see if the plastic polar bears would like to make their new home in amongst the sticky strands.

As I saw each parent dealing with snotty noses that didn’t want to be wiped, bumped heads and the resulting tears and fist fights over favourite trains, I realised that it’s just all part of the process.

When other parents say sympathetically ‘aah he’s not himself today is he?’ you know they mean‘cripes he’s a total monster isn’t he?!’ but who gives a damn, it’ll be their precious bundle that’s exhibiting behaviour worthy of an Asbo, or a Crime Prevention Injunction as they’re now known.

Next time I won’t wear a scarf that’s long enough to dip in to the toilet water, and tomorrow at the Huggies lunch I will beg for sensible potty training tips.

But more than anything if he aint ready, I’ll let him be.  He’s clever, he’s funny, he’s beautiful and if he wants to wait, then we’ll wait.

*All undertakings of the potty training variety, whether positive or negative shall now be referred to as ‘episodes’.



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  1. Oh good lord. Not sure I’m going to be able to take this when it comes, and I’m supposed to be mellow! Sure the two of you will get there somehow, everyone does. We already are attempting this at home and Lara is at the point where she actively blanks out any mention of the potty and I already get that overwhelming feeling of, ‘why am I bothering with this when it’s all so much effort’. Pass on ALL the tips you get please!

  2. Cat don’t do it too soon!! Boys are just different in every aspect of training and learning to most girls…..they just want to do things when they are ready and when they are they’ll do it and its a doddle with very few accidents (they normally happen when mouth is open catching flies and they are on another planet concentrating or tuned into something and quite frankly can’t be bothered to make the trip to the toilet!). I tried Henry too early, he was 2.5 and it was so stressfull for both of us in respects of sweating (me) crying ( me and him) and washing (me, lots of). I only did it because I thought I should and felt the pressure ‘because everyone else was doing it’ but the big difference being THEY HAVE GIRLS!!!! I left it and took some advice from a friend with 2 boys and she said he’ll let me know when he wants to do and will seem keen when you mention it, and he was!! No wet clothes, no wet carpet and no stressed sweaty mummy. It was only a few months after I first tried but biy what a difference it makes when they actually want to do something. Not sure how you’re getting on now but if its still difficult….sack it off my lovely!!! x x x
    p.s read the blog about your wedding dress, the masteress of ceremonies and boobs bit did make me laugh! x

    • You are so right! Our first attempt has been a disaster and he’s clearly not ready.
      We’ve put him back in nappies and now he’s asked to go on the toilet a couple of times which is progress. Although he’s also asked to go on the compost heap and at the park too….!
      Thanks for stopping by my love; always laugh to myself about those pre first dance adjustments and the horror in your voice as I tried without dignity to hoist everything up!!!!!

      • Girls are definitely easier to train. My little niece used to hide behind the sofa when she was going to the toilet in her nappy (at only 19 months) – she was so self aware! Little boys can take a little longer. I believe that there is no point putting yourself through the stress of potty training unless the toddler is ready – and when they are ready they will let you know through their own self awareness of what is happening. x

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