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Those Potty Training Blues
Exasperating. I cannot think of a single more befitting
word to describe one of the most trying challenges of
early parenthood, bar none. And I’m a veteran. You’d think
I’d have this potty-training thing down. Nope. It’s got ME
Lately, I’ve felt as though the whole ordeal has
been an exercise in futility, something destined to fail
from the very start. And I find little comfort in the
knowledge that thousands of toddlers successfully use the
bathroom each and every day. Basically, it’s because my
own pride and joy-bringers, otherwise known as the twin
trainees, are not among this elite group—not
just yet anyway.
It’s certainly not for a lack of enthusiasm or know-how
on their part. I’ve never met more eager or capable
or Republican. They know WHAT to do, and perfectly well
WHERE to do it. But as is often the case with campaign
promises, follow-through seems to be the problem.
Furthermore, it’s not as though they haven’t been
rewarded for their achievements—limited
as those instances might have been. I’ve encouraged. I’ve
cheered. I’ve coaxed and cajoled to the nth degree. Heck,
I’ve even resorted to bribery—and
it’s getting costly. We even purchased special underwear
for the occasion, in hopes that Dora, Blue and Winnie the
Pooh would spur them on to victory. Disappointingly, they
were mild motivators at best.
What’s more, I think those highly revered “big kid
pants,” advertised nearly every waking moment, cost more
and do less. They’re nothing more than glorified diapers.
Even my toddlers know this. They’re not stupid, just soggy
much of the time.
It seems we’ve tried nearly everything, to no avail.
Together we’ve discussed the many virtues of using the
potty. “It’s not as messy!” “You get to flush!” “You never
have to worry about that unsightly bulge again!” Well,
maybe the first two promises mean something to them—especially
when I make it sound so convincingly fantabulous, like a
fast-talking, overeager door-to-door salesman. My
objective is to deliver a perfectly polished sales pitch
(highlighting key potty benefits) in ten seconds or less—because,
of course, my audience possesses the attention span of a
fruit fly. Trouble is, they’re not buying. In fact, some
days they don’t even answer the door. Definitely two of
the toughest customers I know.
We’ve tried reading about the topic together, too.
Volumes, in fact. They know all about Prudence and her new
potty, they understand and accept the idea that Everybody
Poops and were absolutely thrilled beyond compare to
receive a book that flushes. How ingenious. But despite it
all, we’ve made little headway. Perhaps if Eric Carle’s
Very Hungry Caterpillar character had visited the outhouse
after his colossal binging session, we’d be getting
somewhere by now. It’s a thought anyway.
Maybe the problem is that I expect too much. Or quite
conceivably, I’ve been impatient with the pace of their
progress, painfully slow that it’s been. One thing’s for
certain; I’m tired of the near misses, less-than-specific
aim and no-where-near-the-target doo-doo placements. No
doubt, I’ve single-handedly kept the makers of Clorox
Wipes in business these past few months. Likewise, the
endless treks to the bathroom to try, try again are
wearing me down. By my calculations, nature calls about
every 11.3 minutes in this household, unless fluids have
it’s a mere 29 seconds.
Furthermore, the daily task of collecting soggy
underwear discarded here, there and everywhere has also
been slightly maddening. And the living room potty-chair,
(yes, LIVING ROOM potty-chair) has lost its luster—and
novelty. Not to mention, it clashes horribly with our
I’ve had it up to HERE (about a foot above my head)
with the inadvertent tinklings and sprinklings—on
the carpet, on the furniture and once, even on their
beloved Beanie Babies. Nineteen of them, in fact. I
counted. “Unbelievable,” was all I could manage to mutter
to myself, positively too stunned to curse.
But mostly, it’s the regression that gets me down. Just
when the flame of hope begins to glow brightly with the
promise of a new day, someone pees on it. Figuratively
speaking, of course.
Melinda L. Wentzel
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