Guest post by Chris Cate, author/creator of www.TheParentNormal.com, a parenting humor website about close encounters of the baby and toddler kind. You can follow Chris Cate or The ParentNormal on Twitter @ChrisCate and @TheParentNormal.
The first time my toddler looked up at me and asked to be taken to the “potty” (without first being bribed) was an emotional moment. It meant my daughter was growing up. I remember it fondly. The moment was nearly as emotional as it was an hour later when my toddler looked up at me and said, “I pooped my pants.” It meant my daughter was growing down. I remember it, reluctantly.
For months, my wife and I trained our daughter to go tee-tee (a “word” forced into my vocabulary) on the potty seat. Yet, our first victory lasted less time than it takes to install a car seat. But as I checked the living room furniture for brown toddler fingerprints, I had an epiphany. While we had been potty training our daughter for months, she had been potty training training us since the day she was born.
Every day of her life, our daughter used diapers like disposable port-o-pots. She had no desire to change as long as we were doing all of the changing for her. She also realized that trips to the potty had other benefits such as immediate attention, praise and treats from mommy and daddy, and having a prime excuse for staying up late into the night. And to her, “There ain’t no potty like a late night potty because a late night potty don’t stop.” While my wife and I sat on the edge of the bathtub at 2 a.m. waiting to hear something splash the water, our daughter heard exactly what she requested, stories with characters of her choosing. She trained us well.
Eventually, my wife and I began catching on to the scheme. But our daughter refused to abandon her life’s work. She resorted to having fewer accidents and more intentionals, which were temporarily successful for her and distressful for us. She kept us aware of the consequences of not taking her to the potty. But the takeaway for us and for other parents reading this is that there is an end to the chaos. The flaw in our daughter’s plan (and probably your toddler’s plan too) was that it required her to learn how to control her digestive system, even if it meant going potty in the corner of the living room – which she quickly learned is a poor alternative to going in the potty. So it got messy in the end, but the important thing is that it did end, and it will for you too.