Of all the milestones parents and kids meet, surely potty-training is the one most fraught with conflicting emotions. I, like every parent in the world, am very, very ready to be done with diapers. It's been almost six freaking years since I changed my first one, and two kids and God knows how many thousands of dollars surrendered to the poo magnates of Pampers, Huggies, and Honest later, I'm psyched for the day I can throw my last filthy diaper, tied up in a Target bag, somewhere close to the trash can in my garage, which will disgust me when I find it resting on top of my stroller three days later.
However, there's the excitement a parent feels about actually being done with potty-training, and then there's the reality of having to actually do that training. And as someone who's been through the process once before, I'm dealing with the prospect of round two with a mix of denial and dread. I know the truth about what it takes to create a diaper-free child, and it's literally sh*tty.
My husband still tells people that the "potty-training in three days" pamphlet his co-worker passed along to us worked wonders with our first. For him, it totally did . . . because after three days, he went back to work. I, however, spent the next two-plus weeks cleaning the urine and poo my daughter deposited on every piece of upholstered furniture and rug in our house, feeling anxious about whether the diapers I put her in to run errands were confusing her and slowing the process, and then wondering why the F we started this whole training thing when I was eight months pregnant (but that's another story).
If my daughter needed a little coercing to get on the potty train, my son might need some kind of major intervention. He's now four months older than his sister was when she was fully off diapers and has little to no interest in saying goodbye to his beloved swaddlers. We talk to him all the time about how much fun peeing on the potty is, how cool big-boy underwear is, how much better it will feel to not walk around in his own urine and feces all day, but he doesn't care. We've even tried that time-honored tactic of shaming your own child.
We've even tried that time-honored tactic of shaming your own child.
"You know, buddy, only babies wear diapers, and you don't want to be a baby, do you?" I've said to him at least a dozen times. "You want to be a big boy, right?"
"I'm not a baby. I'm not a big boy. I'm Sam," he always replies. What can I say? My kid is not defined by societal labels.
Like any self-respecting mother, I have to wonder if his toilet aversion is somehow my fault. Is it because, when he was born, I switched from plain white Pampers to the much more adorable Honest designs in an effort to make diaper changes more aesthetically pleasing? Are they now too cute? Or could it be that he has sensed my apathy about the training situation up to now and has decided to run with it?
Or is his aversion simply ingrained in his DNA as a boy, the — let's be honest — stereotypically grosser gender? I mean, the kid will regularly tell me he has poop in his pants, then run and hide when I attempt to rectify that situation. Who does that?
Regardless of the reasons behind his dedication to his diapers, a reckoning is soon to come. After all, my son is off-the-growth-charts huge. People regularly guess he's a full year and a half older than he is, and a kid who's outgrowing his 4T pants and still wearing diapers is just plain embarrassing. (Clearly, I am more affected by societal judgments than he is.) So, this month, after we celebrate his third birthday, I'm forcing the issue.
God help us all, especially my rugs.