Well here I go again. You’d think after five kids I’d be getting better at things, but honestly, I’m getting worse. All four of my older children were potty trained by the time they were two years old. Two years old! I know, wonderful right? But then along comes this 5th one, my little Jayden Ju Ju Bean. I started training him around 18 months. I used the same old stuff, you know, the stuff that works.
“Let’s watch ‘Once Upon A Potty,’ Jayden,” I’d say. All the others watched it and loved it. Even the poor girls watched it, even though it was a video of Joshua, who is a boy of course, and so, has what we call, not a penis, but a ‘peter’…. and obviously the girls don’t have one. (But their parents are too cheap to go out and buy the female version of the video just for them.) Jayden loves watching Joshua and watches it all the time. And loves showing me all his special body parts along with Joshua. I have dreams of him bending over and showing me the little hole where poo-poo comes out. And yes, Jayden’s poo-poo does come out there… but not in the potty like Joshua knows how to do… but all over the floor.
Soon Jayden was two. And I’m forcing my older boys to take him to the bathroom with them so he can see how big boys do it. “See Cade, Jayden? See Stone? They are big boys. They pee-pee in the potty. See Cade, Jayden? He can hit the floating cereal with his pee-pee.” And we all applaud for my sons and suddenly, as they look back at all of us all looking at them, they begin to feel their first cases of performance anxiety.
And soon, Jayden is two and a half…. And I’m one of those horrible parents whose child is still NOT FREAKING POTTY TRAINED! The ones whom I’ve always looked down on in the past!!!! I’ve tried forcing him to stay on the potty while being read a book, a potty book, that makes a flushing sound when you push a button; several other books… a movie. It was torture for all of us. We’d all take turns with him… reading to him… playing games with him. Guarding him!!!! But the little sneak would just hold his potty. And he could hold it forever because he is smart and knows exactly what he’s doing and is playing maniacal, psychotic, mind games with us. My husband would always give in first. “He’s not going to do it,” he’d say. “He just doesn’t have to go…” But then as soon as we’d put a diaper back on him… every time…Wham-Whiz, he’d go. And run away laughing as we chased him.
He’s 3 now. Well in all honesty… 3 1/2. And still not quite potty trained. My friend told me, who’s perfect and who’s child was potty trained before 2… ( I know I used to be you, you smug advice giver…) she told me what worked for her was the nude technique where the child is completely naked and you stay in one room all day, preferably in a room with tile or linoleum, and you watch them like a hawk and wahla… they are potty trained.
Well I’ve tried that…. and I can’t handle it. I can’t stay in a room all day. I have five kids…. I have errands to do… bills to pay…. laundry and cleaning and supper to cook… and I have to leave to go to the bathroom!!!! And it was confusing my nice litter trained cats to see this little human excrement all over the floor. He would come running up all excited, “Look mommy, I poo-poo’d.” And then he’d point to the bits and pieces on the floor, “There’s one there… and there… and there!” he’d say, jumping up and down like he’d done something wonderful. So…our reaction was to feed him lots of cheese so at least his piles would be firm.
I’ve tried the electric wee-alerts. You know the ones. I used them on my older children for bed-wetting. I came up with the amazing idea to attach it to the inside of his underwear and sure enough, soon I’d hear “It’s a Small World After All,” and I’d chase that little rascal around the house. 3 1/2 year olds are much faster than 45 year olds, and I’d usually slip on something wet and fall. On another time, we were on the way somewhere in the car and suddenly I heard the alarm blaring out our least favorite song and I slowly turned the rear-view mirror so I could glare into his eyes, both of us thinking, ‘I know, you know, what just happened.’ And without a sound, he slowly lowered his head in dejection.
I’ve about given up. I’m too old. He’s too old, too set in his ways. The other day he came running up to me, with the mini-toilet seat around his face, “Look mommy, I’m an astronaut.” Surely someone who can say astronaut can go pee-pee in the potty, I thought as I told him to get his little astronaut back to the bathroom.
Maybe they’ll teach potty training in school. Maybe in college. I’ve offered a reward to my daughters for their services. I’ve offered them 20 dollars to get the deed done. I have a picture of him sitting on his potty chair like a king on his throne, Lexi is reading a book, a movie’s on. One of his feet is in a bowl of warm water and Payton is pouring water back and forth from one cup to another to make a tinkling sound.
We have had some progress. He does go pee-pee in the potty now when we are at home. And he finally did go poo-poo in the potty after much, much effort. I had decided to give up all other motherly duties and watch him like a hawk and whenever I saw him so much as grimace… we’d be rushing to the potty. That little monster just held it. He would not go poo. He’d pull off his underwear and bring me a diaper. He’d hide under the table, the desk, the ping-pong table, in the closet. But I was there, I had taken back control. I’d make the ‘my eyes on you’ sign every time he’d find me watching him. “This is yo’ mammas house now, boye.” But he kept holding it. One day, two days, three days. Every morning I was shocked he hadn’t poo’ed in his diaper during the night. I thought we might have to call the doctor. Maybe we psychologically damaged the poor child. Finally, on the fourth day, I noticed that he’d become very serious. I grabbed him and we ran. After four freaking days I wasn’t going to let this opportunity literally slip by. I sat him on the toilet, held his hand and stroked his arm in gentle encouragement while he sweated and grunted and I felt as if I was assisting a loved one in the birth of a new baby. And let me say, when he finally did the deed I was probably just as proud. It was the biggest, longest poopy I had ever seen. Imagine the theme of Rocky playing now and every movement in slow motion. We screamed and clapped and hugged. I called the other kids and we took pictures of it and texted them to daddy who was away on a trip. After we said our goodbyes to the pee-pee and poo-poo and flushed it away, we called Gramma and then we all went to Chuck E. Cheese for the long-awaited celebration. Finally, success. Sweet success.
But, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We still have our ups and downs but are slowly making progress, eating less cheese. I remember lying in bed one night recently, my sweet husband who always seems to be gone during the potty training times, reminisced, “I just don’t remember it being this difficult with the others…” You don’t remember it being this difficult, I think. I wonder why you don’t remember…? And that instantly brought back the memories of my last potty training experience…. Little Lexi. One night, the whole family was in the living room; playing games, watching TV, relaxing. And I was trudging through the house picking up clothes, toys, candy wrappers. I had just come from the bathroom after changing the 5th toilet paper roll for the day and as I looked at them I sighed, frustrated and lamented how no one ever helped me with anything. My husband immediately took offense but then I announced how I had just changed what was probably the fifth toilet paper roll for the day and couldn’t anyone do something just as simple as that? And then we got into the argument how he does change toilet papers rolls and I’m all ‘Oh, no you don’t.’
But then the next time I happened to enter the kids bathroom I noticed on the tub were three empty toilet paper rolls sitting there, side by side, numbered 1-2-3. Oh no he didn’t? The nerve of that man.
That night at dinner there was the inevitable call from the master bath of little Lexi… waiting to be wiped. “Moooooommy, I’m doooonnne.” I went to the bathroom, made her touch her toes, and grabbed my marker. When I was through writing, I sat her back on the potty and told her that now she could call for her daddy to wipe her. And then I left and returned to dinner. As soon as I sat down, there was the little voice again, “Daaaaaddy, I’m dooooonnne.” I smiled quietly to myself as I envisioned my husband walking into the bathroom, having her bend and touch her toes, and then him noticing the writing on each little white cheek, ‘Dad 8, Mom 14,603.’
This is yo’ mamma’s house, boye!