This S*** Is For The Birds

You guys, potty training. It’s killing me (still). All I want to do is wait for the magical day (and I’ll know it is such by the sunbeams twinkling with glitter and breakfast appearing lickety-split on my plate when I put it on the table) when she decides she wants to use the potty. I mean, she’s not going to want to sit around in a soggy pull-up forever. Sooner or later, peer pressure or a basic desire for cleanliness will kick in and she’ll say, yup, totally time for the potty.

I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “Oh, just wait. Once they start pooping like real people you’ll want to tie them to the potty til they get it.” or some other well-meaning, less-torturey variation. And yeah, I get it. It’s a shitty job (har) but it’s a blip on my life radar. I’ve hung out in a morgue*. A little poo doesn’t really rate. And honestly, it’s more important to me that she work on what she’s working on right now, whatever that is. That approach has worked well so far – though not without anxiety on our part – and she’s a happy, healthy, smart kid who can (most of the time) articulate her feelings and interact with the rest of humanity in a way that reflects our family ideals of civility and respect. Yes, I’m totally talking about a three-year-old. See? How can you force potty training on that?

While we were at the dentist on Tuesday, the hygienist (who was wearing Bambi scrubs) greeted RR (who was playing with one of the abacus type toys with round, multicolored beads). I asked RR if she knew what was on the hygienist’s shirt and she looked at me blankly.

“Bambi?” the hygienist prompted.
“Deer?” I nudged, knowing full well that Bambi is, and ever will be, cervus non grata in our home**.
“I’m playing with planets.” RR deadpanned.

You guys, I didn’t know she knew what a planet was.

It’s killing me. Last weekend, after much panty-wearing, panty-changing, peeing willy-nilly, and potty-nagging, she rocketed down the hall, flung herself on her little potty and flooded it, my hands, and the floor. I was holding the potty insert at the time, having just been cleaning the single solitary drop of pee she’d deigned to put into it minutes earlier. We rewarded her and she hasn’t done it since (or even been willing to consider it).

I’d like to think that she’d get it if I could just watch her cross and uncross her legs all day but I know from experience that staying home has nothing to do with her desire to use the potty. Last Saturday was a fluke, I’m afraid. During the week, we ship her off to school where she sits on the potty at regular times (always at diaper change so, really, what’s the point of that?) but never pees. On weekends we put her in panties when we’re at home but, let’s face it, the child still takes 3-4 hour naps. She’s not AWAKE enough to be in panties much of the time.

And here’s the kicker and it’s a big one. She’s supposed to be potty-trained before she moves to her new school in mid-August. I am so worried that she won’t be that I’m having strings of bad dreams that involve the school kicking us out, her peeing all over the parking lot sobbing, getting scolded for deceiving them, and finding ourselves suddenly and completely without childcare at the start of our busiest work season. I have no idea what to do. I’m torn between taking time off for a heartless potty bootcamp and crossing my fingers and hoping for the best over the next four weeks.

I suppose I’m not really looking for suggestions but if you have any besides the following – or if you’re looking for some yourself! – here’s what hasn’t worked:

Sticker rewards
Toy rewards
Candy rewards
Peer pressure (mama gets an M&M for peeing)
Leaving every door open
Potty books
Potty apps
Potty videos
Sitting at regular times
Panties regardless of trainedness
Constant changes of panties
Naked time
Keeping a potty in the room with her
Having her sit when we sit
Telling her it’s the last diaper and showing the empty bin
Letting her decide when she’s ready

And frankly, we’re back to that. Looking at that list, we appear to be inconsistent potty fanatics but this is a list collected over a period of time and we’re not dumping (heh) it all on her at once. It feels terrible to force this on her when I just don’t think she’s ready. I don’t know what I’m going to do if she can’t go to school. Seriously. I don’t know.

*To be clear, I wasn’t sipping lemonade and eating nachos. It was more hanging out in the sense of hanging out to dry, hanging on a limb, hanging by a thread and so forth.

**I’m down with Disney, but not with that damn deer. Fire! Death! Destruction! Abandonment! No.

27 Responses

  1. I used to work at a camp for 3-5 year olds, and one of the requirements was that kids were potty trained. A kid who wasn’t showed up, and we grudgingly changed him for a week… then he suddenly realized that he was the ONLY kid not using the potty, and got on it pretty quickly. Peer pressure works! Even among three year olds! Maybe the new school will do the trick?

    • Along the peer pressure lines, I have to say that yes, I have seen many a child inspired by peers to use the toilet when all else failed (I’ve been a toddler and preschool teacher for ten years and I’ve seen many many children go through the “toilet learning” stage). To bump the idea up a notch, does RR have any slightly older pals she could hang out with this summer? Sometimes seeing a cool older kid do something makes it even more appealing.

      • That’s a brilliant idea – makes me wish I had an older sib for her. Most of her friends are at the same point though they are rapidly beginning to outpace her. By the end of the summer she may well have more in the way of peer pressure!

    • Very true – her current peers might not get it but the new ones probably will!

  2. For both of my kids I found a time where we could consistently be at home for about 3 days. Then I took off all pants. Naked on the bottom. Then I set a timer to go off every 30 minutes. I did a little dance every time the timer went off to make it seem like fun. They had to sit on the potty everytime the timer went off but no big deal if they didn’t do anything. They got pull-ups for naps and bedtime but as soon as they were up, it was off to the potty and then naked time (hence the having to stay home for 3 days). I made it fun…like it was a big project between Mommy and the kid for those days. There will be pee on the floor, for sure, but for me, those three days and then we were mostly done. Hope that helps!

  3. I am a preschool teacher with a class filled with three year olds and it sounds like you have tried amazingly to get her trained. Sometimes it’s just not time yet. In my classroom regardless of trained or not everyone wears panties. We just do a lot of changing. When they are having a hard time grasping the idea we make a potty timer. We get an egg timer from the dollar store and let them decorate it while talking about the potty. Then we set the timer together and whenever it goes off, Every 15 minutes at first, we visit the bathroom. We read a book while on the potty and then get off, wash out hands, and set the timer again. It’s a long process. We have them take the timer home with them to us at home and we use it at school or consistancy. We ind that keeping them in panties all day also keeps consistent. Going back and forth, even at nap time sends mixed messages. We just have to change te sheets all the time. I hope some of this helps.

  4. Back when I taught 3 year olds I had an almost 4 year old little boy who wasn’t yet potty trained. I wasn’t into pushing but his parents were at their wits end and tried bribing with money. A dollar each time he went to the bathroom on the potty, which to a 4 year old might as well be a random piece of paper, not great motivation (however he tried to demand it from me at school which, no). One Monday he came to school in underwear and proceeded to have accidents all.week.long. The next Monday he came back and never had another accident. No great advice here…just proof that other parents do it worse. : )

    I second the 3-day lock down with no bottoms. I’ve heard it works wonders…though we haven’t entered that territory yet. We should probably get rid of all our carpet before we do.

    • Money?! I’m pretty sure the only kind of money that would motivate my 3 yr old would be the sort with blueberries smeared all over it. Ok. That was gross. But you get the picture!

  5. The Bean is showing a sudden uptick in potty interest, so I suppose we will start this madness soon. I would almost rather gouge my eyes out.

  6. Have you tried different types of potties? We use the built-in flip-down kind (NextStep from Home Depot) but when Clem went on potty strike this spring she would ONLY use the on-the-floor kind. She still freaks out when we show her the portable one that you can carry around in a purse–this is what started the strike, thanks to a lovely trip to her grandmother’s house. A step stool (heh, stool) has been key to the on-the-big-toilet kind. And also making a fake potty for her favorite dolls to use.

    Good luck. Sounds like urine good company, at least.

    • Definitely worth a try! She doesn’t like the height of the big potty seat and doesn’t care for the little one. It might be time to try a new model!

  7. I’m not yet at the potty training stage and this post is freaking me out a little. I sure hope you get RR to use the potty more consistently, I look forward to reading the post of ‘magic day’ full of glitter!

  8. […] This S*** Is For The Birds ( […]

  9. I don’t have any advice to give, having not been through the potty training stage yet, but I wanted to offer my sympathies to all involved because that

    Hang in there mamas!

  10. How hardcore is the school about this policy? Have you talked to them about it? If they’re dealing with three year olds, I would bet money that RR is not the first un-housebroken (as my parents are wont to call it) child they’ve dealt with. Talking to them about the issue might at least relieve some of your anxiety.

    That’s the best I’ve got as far as advice goes. Critter has a little potty, which he would sit on at first, but is totally uninterested in at this point. He watches us use the toilet and asks us why we’re doing that. When we tell him it’s because we’re big and we don’t want to wear diapers, he looks at us like we’ve sudden starting speaking in tongues. He will announce while getting undressed that he’s going to pee in the bath, and hold it until he gets there, but if you try putting him on the potty or toilet, he screams bloody murder. We got him *Sesame Street* underwear (and the kid loves him some Sessy Street), and he said he didn’t want them. So, while I’m pretty confident that he *could* be potty-trained, I’m also pretty sure he doesn’t want to be at this point. Since PB in her years of nannying has seen potty pressure go badly a few too many times (especially with boys, for some reason), we really want to avoid that. He’ll get there eventually, right? Not when he’s 16, I keep telling myself.

    • Not even sesame street underwear?! That is a determined child. Alas, elmo isn’t working over here either. I’m really worried about the pressure part so we decided to let things take their course for another couple of weeks. not when she’s sixteen…not when she’s sixteen…

  11. I have no advice. I tried very unsuccessfully to potty train my girl for the better part of a year between her second & third birthdays. A month before she turned three, my dear husband decided enough, took a week off work and made it happen in that week. I have no idea what trick he used that worked, only that it worked. I’d be more than happy to lend him out though.

    • Clearly he has some mojo the rest of us don’t have. If you see a slow car driving past your block, that’s probably us looking for him.

      • I do know that to get her to stop wearing pull-ups at night a few months later, he told her that if she could keep them dry every night for a week, he promised her he’d take her to a movie she had been dying to see. It worked. He may have used a similar method for potty training, but there were M&M’s involved too.

  12. I tried EVERYTHING with my son and he wouldn’t potty train either until right after he turned 3 and all of the sudden just did it on his own. He had no accidents after that (but still wore a pull-up to bed until he was about 5) & we were pleasantly surprised. Here’s hoping the same happens with RR! 🙂

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