A Tale of Potty Training Hubris
Thou shalt not judge the parents of a child who has difficulty being potty trained.
Where have I gone wrong? Just when I thought things were getting easy, I have to retrieve another change of underwear and shorts from the dresser drawer for my youngest son. My kid is 4 years old. This should not be happening.
With our first son, we knew he was ready for potty training by 18 months. He found it fascinating to visit the bathrooms in random places such as Kohl’s, Babies ‘R Us and restaurants around the Lehigh Valley.
As soon as we were situated at a table he announced to everyone, “I haffa go potty,” and off he went with dad for the next bathroom tour. He didn’t always ‘go,’ but the idea of him wanting to go got us excited.
My 2005 New Year’s resolution with my first son was to never buy another disposable diaper (at least not for this kid). We stayed in the house for a week straight and gave him nothing but water. (I’m kidding.) But we did make sure to give him a LOT to drink so his need to ‘go’ was more frequent than normal.
The timer went off every 15 minutes, and I took him to the bathroom to sit for a while. He was overjoyed with the rewards for his success--an M&M, mini-marshmallow, raisin, or more than one treat. Within a day, the conditioning began. By the end of ‘Week 1’ he was telling me when it was time to go. Easy peasy. I never had to buy a diaper again.
I thought to myself, “What is with these moms who aren’t capable of potty training their kid? That took nothing but a little commitment and a few sweet treats.”
Then came our second son.
When he turned 2, I thought, “Time to pull out the M&Ms!” I went through the same routine I had with my first son. But the training techniques were not working as well. Maybe he wasn't quite ready.
Two years later, he is 80 percent potty-trained, but still has the occasional minor accident. This pattern of thinking, “Yes! He’s trained!” to “What the heck is going on with him?” has me frustrated. Even more, I’m embarrassed...not of his accidents, but of my attitude.
My criticism of others who had 4- and 5-year-olds who had potty training complications puts me to shame. Now I realize how different each child is and how commitment only takes you so far.
Never judge a parent by their potty training skills. It’s one of life’s greatest challenges. I got lucky once. Now I’m being taught a lesson of my own.