Potty Training Impatience

Are you a relaxed parent? I am. I’d like to say I’m this way because I’m so awesome, but no. I’m this way because I have a child with a stubborn streak like a grumpy attorney. Push him too hard and he digs in…he knows I’m trying to manipulate him and no freaking way, is that happening on his watch.

I’m not saying I let him go off and play in traffic and binge on candy all day. I just mean that when I try to push the timeline on milestones, it doesn’t go well for anyone involved.

Now, I hesitate to use the word stubborn, because I think potty training is something that is age and maturity dependent. Guidance helps, but if they aren’t ready, then sometimes they simply aren’t ready. “Stubborn” indicates some level of intent.

For some kids, they aren’t being stubborn, they’re just learning on their own timeline.

And for some kids, it means they’ve realized that the ability to take a leak literally anywhere, at anytime, is not something that should be easily given up. I can’t blame them.

But back to my tiny, grumpy attorney: If you have a kid like this, you know what I mean. Some might call them “spirited” or “strong-willed” or “a good reason to day drink”.

Potty training has been a real test of this forced-relaxation parenting style of mine. I’m fortunate that Little Dude is not in daycare, so we didn’t have some hard and fast deadline to meet for potty training. Pretty sure we wouldn’t have made it. Bless you parents who are able to/have to meet such deadlines. I salute you.

That said, he’s at the older end of the potty training timeline. And while I try not to compare my child to other children, I’m totally comparing my child to other children. A lot of them are in underwear. But I’ve also noticed that a lot of the kids in underwear are having potty accidents on the regular, which leads me to believe that there are a lot more older-ish toddlers who are still working on potty training.

Note to smug potty training parents: if your kid is wearing underwear but is having accidents daily, they aren’t potty trained. Sorry to piss in your cornflakes.

I’ve spoken to some older parents who also had stubborn potty trainers and they’ve assured me that one day using the toilet just “clicked” for their kids and none of their 40-year-olds are still using pull-ups or diapers. So, there’s that.

I really, really want to get to this child fully potty trained but I’m trying not to force the issue. This isn’t the topic I want to fight with my kid about. I’m saving that angst for things like a shitty girlfriend or choosing a useless college major. So, after many phases of potty training including:
– guiding to the potty every hour
– potty seats everywhere
– no pants or pull-ups in the house

We’re at: BRIBERY.

Pee in the potty consistently, small human, and the key to the kingdom will be yours. Or, pretty much every Paw Patrol toy in Wal-mart will be yours. Because the cost savings of no longer buying pull-ups and nighttime diapers will more than cover the toys.

Do I think parenting by bribery is a good thing? No, definitely not.

Am I proud of this decision? Just a little bit.

We’ll see how it goes. He starts high school in about 11 years, so we’ll definitely have this potty thing on lock by then.

You can always find the mothers…

I recently had the joy of dealing with a nuclear-level toddler melt down in the middle of a fairly nice restaurant. And by nice restaurant I mean they had cloth napkins and a hipster bartender.

In defense of the Little Dude, we sort of set him up for the perfect storm. We had been on a long car ride home after nearly two weeks away. We were all hungry and all tired and it was dinner time. While Little Dude hung in there as long as he could, he just couldn’t take much more.

After eating a lot of fast food, we decided to stop in a restaurant with printed menus and an actual wait staff. That, too, was probably too much to expect, but we had high (and naive) hopes. We ordered our food and then I took Little Dude to the bathroom for a diaper change. Then it happened – there was an automatic soap dispenser, and he couldn’t get enough of it. Such wizardry!

There was only one bathroom and we couldn’t be in there all day, so I pulled him away from the bathroom as he started to scream. I saw our waitress (who mentioned she was a mother of five herself) go into high-speed food delivery mode, employing two bus boys to get our plates to us. But it was too late. Little Dude was tired, hungry, and wanted liquid soap dispensed via the magic motion-detecting soap dispenser. I felt my lips purse to the point that I thought I was going to suck my lips and cheeks clear off my face. As he arched his back and screamed, I felt my face flush red and I looked across the dining room to see four or five heads pop up – some with looks of understanding, some worried, some wondering if I was about to beat my child because I clearly looked like I was about to go insane. They were the mothers. And I could tell they all got it. They all had been there. (The hipster bartender scowled at us, by the way.)

I made my way to the door with him, hissing at The Sarge, “We’re going outside, I’m not going to let this happen in here”.

We went out the front door in a screaming, shushing flurry, and I put Little Dude on a bench. His tantrum immediately ended. He saw a mailbox and went to play hide and seek behind it. To the casual onlooker, I held a conversation with a giant blue mailbox for about 15 minutes.

Finally, I asked, “Are you hungry? Because I’m hungry. But we have to sit and be good in the restaurant, okay?” And he nodded, and we went back inside. He gobbled at his spaghetti and declared he was done, so The Sarge took him back outside. The waitress re-appeared, touched my shoulder and asked, “Are you okay?” It was the kindest thing anyone could have done for me in that moment. One mom just checking in on another in the most gentle way possible. I said yes, asked for the bill, and left a big tip.

I learned a valuable lesson in how not to set us all up for failure and unavoidable hunger-related tantrums. I’m also glad that in a moment of what felt like a parenting fail I experienced a moment of kindness from a stranger. Note to self: Return the favor…again and again.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash