By: Meika Rouda
Almost a year ago, when our son turned 3, we flirted with the idea of potty training him. We bought him fantastic new underwear with cars and spiderman on them. He delighted when he tried them on and then insisted he wear a diaper underneath. We bought him his own potty, a small blue one that fit just right, then we upgraded to a more advanced “cars” themed one where the “flushing” sounded like a car revving and the seat was padded. He loved to sit on it, play with it, even have his stuffed animals sit on it, but never did he take his pants down and try to use it the way it was intended. It became another toy around the house. So we upped the ante and put M&M’s next to the toilet, I bought little gifts and wrapped them up and stacked them on the back of the toilet, our bathroom was over crowded with gifts, sweets, and an array of small potties to lure our son into the destined milestone of going diaper-free. We had incentives galore. This is what we are supposed to do, right?
A month ago, after our son still showed little interested in the toilet, we decided to go commando and spend the weekend at home with no diapers. We told our son days in advance that the “diaper fairy” was coming to take his diapers away. This technique worked great with his pacifier so we were feeling confident. This was going to work! On Friday morning I left a big present for him at the foot of his bed from the diaper fairy and stashed his diapers in a closet. He woke up and was so excited to see the present. He was ready. It was on.
He went diaper-free all day and I kept asking him, “Do you have to use the potty?” “No,” he would say. I would insist he sit on the potty “just to see if anything comes out” but he cried and protested. He didn’t have to go, he didn’t want to sit on the potty, none of them. Several hours went by, still nothing. He was clearly holding his bladder which is made of steel apparently because as the day came to a close, still nothing. I was worried. What was going on? Is he that freaked out by the toilet? I asked him if he wanted to pee outside in the bushes. Still no. I put him on his little potty and he cried. Finally I put him on the big potty. He cried harder. We watched the movie ” Once upon a potty” and sang the song “I’m going to a potty party” but still nothing. I fed him m&m’s and gave him presents, just for sitting on the toilet. Still no action.
It was bath time and he still hadn’t peed or pooped all day. This was bad. While in the bath he looked at me with shock in his eyes. “Are you going pee?” I asked, hopefully. He nodded. I picked him up out of the tub and put him on the toilet. He looked a little afraid but he didn’t cry, even though he was soaking wet. We looked in the toilet and he was peeing. Victory! He laughed and was so pleased with himself. I gave him a high five and as many m&m’s as he wanted. He got back in the bath and I was cheering and telling him how great he was. Then it was bedtime and he needed a diaper. So I put one on him and as soon as I pulled his pajama bottoms up, he had peed. So I put another diaper on him. “Mama, I have pee pee” he said 5 minutes later. So I put another new diaper on him. Then as I am about to tuck him into bed and read books, he poops. Now that the diaper was back, his systems were all “go”.
The next morning we tried again diaper-free and the same thing: he claimed he didn’t have to use the potty and didn’t want to sit on the toilet. I reminded him how he had gone in the toilet the day before but he still refused. It was like it had never happened. As the hours went by I got worried again and then, lo and behold, after bath when the diaper went on, there was free flow. The next day was Sunday and we had the same routine again. He cried on the toilet and just held his body functions until he got a diaper. At the end of the day I asked him if he wanted to use diapers all the time again instead of underwear. He said yes. So we accepted defeat and went back to diapers.
I admit to being really frustrated. I just wanted it to kick in like everyone says it will “one day they just get on the potty and that is that”. Well, not my son –at least, not so far. He has always been the kid that has taken a little longer to do things. He didn’t get his first tooth until he was 14 months old. So we have to be patient and understanding but I never know how much we should encourage or force things and when to back off and just let him decide. As much as I want it to happen, it isn’t really up to me; all I can do is encourage him, talk about it, and keep singing the song “I’m going to a potty party”.
Hopefully someday the party will arrive.