Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Potty Training Out Loud

My wife and I have three boys. Boy Number Three just turned three years old and is the last one in diapers. We started potty training him last week. I don’t know if you have ever potty trained anyone or anything, but let me tell you, it can get exciting for a whole bunch of different reasons.

For starters, my wife and I are excited at the prospect of being done with diapers for good. We’ve been knee-deep in them for six and a half years now, and we can finally see the light at the end of the dark and stinky tunnel. It’s such a wonderful thought that we almost dare not speak it, for fear of jinxing it.

No more expensive diapers! No more expensive wipes. No more disgusting diapers! No more used wipes. No more storing used diapers and their nefarious contents in my garage. No more storing eight-foot-square Costco-sized cases of diapers in my garage. No more packages of diapers and wipes falling out at me from every closet in the house.

No more questioning Boy Number Three about the current situation in his pants. No more needing to check the validity of said boy's answer. (He has never been very reliable.) Never again will we need to bend down and go sniffing around his butt like an ill-mannered hound dog. No more stomach-over-the-forearm, pull-up-the-back-of-the-shorts visual poop checks. We are mere days away from becoming a civilized family that fully utilizes their indoor plumbing. It’s all very exciting!

Then there is the other kind of excitement. Part of the deal with potty training involves gambling. This is when you put the child in “big boy underwear” and let them roam freely around the house, while you chew your nails and inquire with them every 10-12 seconds if they need to go sit on the potty. About every half-hour or so, your nerves are so frayed that you just go set them on the potty as a preemptive measure.

At our house, if you pee on the potty, you get five M&Ms. For our kids who don’t get candy on a regular basis, that tends to be a big deal. If you poop on the potty, you get a whole bunch of M&Ms. The amount varies depending on how excited the parent is that they just dodged a bullet. I give him the whole bag.

Most of the time, however, you end up cleaning up a mess instead of handing out congratulatory candy-coated chocolate. With Boy Number Three, this has been quite an ordeal. Not due to the messes so much as the raw emotion involved. You see, Number Three is either not very smart, or a super-genius. I haven’t decided which yet. He either can’t seem to get his terminology right, or he is so brilliant that at age three, he has already mastered reverse psychology and corporate level negotiating techniques. Allow me to explain.

He keeps mixing up the terms “poop” and “pee.” He will be in big boy underwear upstairs and yell down in a sad voice that he is poopy. You run upstairs in a panic, expecting the worst, only to find that he has peed, but not pooped.

Because you were mentally prepared for the worst, after you realize the real situation at hand, you are actually happy to only be cleaning up pee. You are so happy not to be scrubbing something far worse out of the upholstery that you almost thank him for peeing in his pants and on the couch. Go figure.

Like I said, he may be the smartest kid on the planet, or he may just be really bad with terminology. I’m leaning toward the latter, because I can’t really see any upside to peeing all over yourself and missing out on free candy, and a genius would have probably figured that out by now, three years old or not.

Anyway, we’re in the midst of it all, and we’re excited that we’re so close to being diaperless. My wife is so excited about the prospect of a carefree life without poopy pants that she temporarily lost her mind the other day, and inadvertently gave me the opportunity to discover just how excited I really am about living a diaper-free life.

I was at the office and my cell phone rang. It was my wife, who in an excited voice announced that Number Three had just pooped on the potty, and then immediately put Number Three on the phone. She didn't ask me where I was or if I could talk, she just put him on the phone. Then, my three-year-old tells me he just pooped on the potty, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME IN HIS WHOLE LIFE.

I am standing in the middle of my office. My co-workers are all around, and my son is breathlessly awaiting my response. I need to make a very quick decision. On the one hand, I obviously need to be very excited and congratulatory. This is a huge deal and needs to be treated that way. We need to joyously convey the message to him that we are very happy and he has done a great thing.

On the other hand, I am at the office, and would like to maintain a certain level of decorum. I am standing next to the boss’s office. There are people on the phone with customers. On the whole, I would like to keep things with my colleagues on a professional level, and joyous congratulations about pooping aren’t exactly professional.

I learned something about myself that day. I realized, almost instantly, that my distain for dirty diapers greatly outweighs my desire to remain professional.

"GREAT JOB POOPING ON THE POTTY, BUDDY!" I yelled into the phone.

Work is a little weird now, but I don’t care. I really want to be done with diapers!

See you soon,

Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. This was a GREAT read for me Marc!! Especially since I walked in on one of his little accidents the other day and your wife graciously was telling everyone to please walk around the pee on the floor. You're so close you can taste it! So happy for you!! (-:

  2. I'm not sure I like the "so close we can taste it" reference with potty training, but I know what you meant! Our new policy is, "Please don't step in the pee puddles before we have a chance to clean them up." It's like having a hairless puppy!

  3. We have a bit of an edge here, the great outdoors awaits, and no one cares that everything comes off by the dog house and he runs all the way around the house to a tree near the woodshed where "men" should go to use the "facilities". I did finally convince him that he could keep his shirt on as it would not get wet ;)

  4. I'll bet the logistics of that are very different from November thru March!

  5. We still have a potty chair in the livingroom--somehow doing your duty without missing out on the action seems to be very inspiring in the early stages. Although he has recently started specifying baffroom if he's wanting me to join his own little potty party and quit working on whatever I'm trying to accomplish!

  6. That's a big one over here. "Mommy, come sit with me while I'm on the potty. Let's read a book."
    Thankfully the other two grew out of that!