And so it has come to this: The Wife and I spent a weekend teaching a human person to piss/crap in the toilet.
I don’t remember being taught how to catch a fly ball. I’ve been able to do it for as long as I can remember, so it’s pretty much second nature. Obviously, someone — my dad — taught me to track the flight of the ball off the bat until it lands in the webbing of the glove (and to use two hands!). Similarly, at some point in my life, someone taught me to piss and crap in the toilet — probably my mom. Both skills have come in handy, but I’m going to have to give the ability to accurately (mostly) use the toilet the edge in everyday utility. Hey, don’t act like you don’t sprinkle from time to time.
Weary of changing diapers on two asses all day, The Wife and I decided it was time to get Bean on the toilet. There are many schools of thought on how to properly get your kid to use the facilities, but we’re impatient so we went with that 3-day method people tend to use.
So, if you’re wondering how to train/trick/convince/beg your child to stop defecating in his or her own pants, or you just want to see how we trained our kid, here’s the answer in 7
simple terribly difficult steps.
Step 1: Prepare Your Brain
This process isn’t easy. Not for you. Not for your kid. Not for your dog who thinks urine on the floor is water to drink. It’s hard and annoying and pretty gross. Pick a weekend where you have nothing to do. And I mean nothing. The weekend is all about the kid, the business and the potty. It’s rough and you’ll get cabin fever, but try to keep in mind that at the end of the weekend you will have a child who can join the upper echelon of the evolutionary chain — a hominid who can poop and pee in a man-made device that carries the waste and its disgusting odor underground and far away from you. Got the calendar marked? Good. There’s no turning back.
Step 2: Ditch the Diapers and Buy Some Underwear
The diapers are gone. Forever. Your kid only wears undies from now until she’s old and has to wear Depends. I let Bean pick the panties she wanted. Naturally, she went with princess panties. I tried to get her to get a few pairs of superhero briefs, but it wasn’t happening. She likes what she likes and I have little-to-no say in the matter. Women. Hurrumph. We do still use Pull-Ups at night time. Transitioning from Pull-Ups to underwear at night is a blog post for another time…when we figure out how to do that.
Step 3: Stock Your Arsenal of Bribe Material
I’ve heard parents talk about using M&Ms or other treats to entice their kid to use the potty. Bean probably would have gone for that, but just in case, we broke out the big guns: Princess stickers. If there are two things our girl can’t resist, it’s stickers and princesses. Put them together and you have a bribe so powerful, she’d do just about anything…including stop soiling herself.
Step 4: Prepare the War Room
It’s my opinion that we made a tactical error in the bathroom. We set up the little kid seat on the actual toilet AND the turtle (or frog?) potty on the floor. This leads to confusion/unnecessary cleanup. When we potty train El Guapo, we’ll go with just the kid seat on the toilet. The point of potty training is to not have to clean up after your kid, right? Right. So why would you intentionally let them crap or pee into a receptacle you’ll have to clean? It just doesn’t make sense. But sometimes the smaller potty is necessary. I know of a kid who wouldn’t potty train unless it was on a TRAIN. His grandfather had to make him a potty that looked like a train to get him to go. What I’m saying is, you gotta do what you gotta do. But you should seriously consider the fact that water helps to dissipate the smell of poop. A plastic tub does not.
Step 5: Get Started and Be Ready for Accidents
Tell your kid what’s about to happen. Then wait. Pump him full of water and juice and milk and whatever else will make him need to go. Then be ready, because he’s going to piss his pants. It happens. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the beginning of it and you can swoop him up and run to the bathroom in time to get a sprinkle in/on/around the potty. Most likely, you’re going to be sweetly saying, “It’s ok! Accidents happen. Now you know how it feels when you need to go,” and other such bullshit. What you’ll be thinking is, Christ, son, even the dog doesn’t piss on the floor and now I have to clean this up before it soaks into the mat under the carpet! Take heart, friend, for he will turn the corner. After you’ve cleaned up a lot of urine from your hardwood floor.
Step 6: Reward, Reward, Reward.
As they say, “It gets better.” Bean earned ONE sticker the first day. We considered it a moderate success. At least she made it to the potty once. The second day she had one accident, but made it to the potty numerous times. The third day all accidents had ceased. The other photos are from the next week after the initial 3-day training period. By the next week, Bean had a sticker book covered with princesses.* We continued with the stickers for at least two weeks. Once going on the toilet was routine, she got bored with the sticker reward. In fact, she told us, “I have enough stickers, thanks.” Also, keep in mind that it might take a little longer to adjust to pooping on the potty. Poop accidents are a lot easier to avoid, though, because you probably recognize the signs of your kid taking a dump — the stiff body, the red face, the tell-tale stench…poop can’t jump out at you like pee can. Just stay on top of it and you’ll be fine.
*Don’t ask why she put her stickers on the cover of the sticker book and not inside it. I have no idea what goes on in that little brain of hers. Again, women. Hurrumph.
Step 7: Bask in Your Awesomeness as a Parent
Congratulations! In three days you have successfully done one of those things every parent does eventually: You got your little excrement factory to take care of business like a proper gentleman or lady. Drawback: You’re probably still going to have to wipe his or her ass for the foreseeable future. It’s a labor of love, isn’t it? Still, be proud of yourself and of your kid. It’s another milestone in life and she’ll feel like a big kid, which is a huge deal in the mind of a toddler.
Before you know it, your kid will be an adult blogging about how she doesn’t even remember a time when she didn’t go on the toilet. And, God willing, baseball will still be around in the future, and your kid will also know how to catch a fly ball.