Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SOUND OFF: Potty Training!

Spoiler Alert: This post is about bodily functions if you haven't figured that out already.  If you can't handle bathroom talk, you probably should just stop here before you get pissed off (Yup, I went there!).

The Baby 411 book helped us survive Billa's infancy (OK, one of the TWO books that helped us – the other was The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp) so when we passed the one year mark, I checked out Toddler 411 from the library.  The one piece of information that really stuck with me from that book was about potty training.  In a nutshell, co-author Dr. Ari Brown thinks that potty training should not take months on end, but no more than one or two days.  She also went on to say that the definition of a potty trained child was a kid who not only understood how to use the potty, but was able to use it MOST of the time.  Her theory behind this was because you would not even think about potty training until the child was ready and really showed the signs of readiness, thereby shortening the amount of time spent on potty training.  If a kid isn't ready, she theorizes, they'll fight you on it and it will be a long drawn out process. 

I have to admit, having watched my friends struggle and fight their kids on potty training, she might be onto something.  I know that a lot of folks start potty training because they're a) tired of diapers b) the kid has passed the age of two c) another baby is on the way d) they want to hit the next milestone or e) all of the above or any combination of those factors.  Hell, there is probably more that I didn't touch on, but you get the idea.  It seems like the majority of reasons are for convenience, IMO. 

I'm not going to lambast other parents and say that they're wrong or right because each family is different and if a potty chart and long drawn out process works for them, then so be it.  I personally, am not in any rush to potty train.  I don't have another baby on the way, and the Target diapers are cheap enough and sturdy enough that I don't have a problem spending $22 a month on "panties" for my daughter (seriously, I heart Target brand diapers.  We stopped paying for Pampers and Huggies months ago when we ended up having the buy the Target brand out of necessity and we've never looked back.  That extra cash in my pocket went towards new clothes since my kid is growing like a weed!).  So Dr. Brown's theory behind potty training is right on par for me.  I'm usually a very high strung person, but on this issue, I am taking the slow route because I can and because it seems right.  If Billa is really ready to potty train, great!  If not, no big deal.

I also really appreciate Dr. Brown's definition of what a potty trained child is.  We all say we won't do it, but every parent I knows is in some sort of subconscious competition with the other parents they know.  Who's kid will walk the soonest, talk the soonest, be potty trained the soonest.  We all want to be the parents of the next Mozart or mathematical whiz, so we all play up how awesome our kids are while harboring a deep seated jealousy for any kid who does something better than our own.  And we all know it's silly, but we do it anyway.  Can you blame us if we feel pride and love for what we've created? 

As a result of all these "Baby Games," our competitive natures have set in place some ridiculous expectations for all parents.  We think we should be getting a full night's sleep by the time Junior is 3 months old (Ha! Once you become a parent, you will NEVER have a full night's sleep again...and if you do...don't tell me about it), that all kids should be walking by one year, and they should be talking in complete sentences with proper grammar by the time they're two.  So being told by a pediatrician who is mom to two kids that potty trained means MOSTLY accident and diaper free makes me feel loads better about my job as a parent.  I've got plenty of ridiculous expectations that I've set for myself; I don't need them from other parents!

Armed with this knowledge, we figured we'd really begin talking about potty training sometime after Sybilla turned two.  Until then, we'd just expose her to the world of the potty.  READ: potty field trips.  Anytime Mama or Daddy goes to the potty, Billa goes too.  We tell her what we're doing, point out the parts of the process, the um, results of that process and make it a learning experience.  She's been doing the same thing at daycare so it's been consistent all around.  Some days she would run around the bathroom, or make noises to hear the echo, but most of the time just generally tune in and out to what we were telling her.  There was in no way any pressure to ever use the potty or any frustration on our end, just simple explanations followed by "Someday you'll use the potty like Mama and Daddy too!"

Lately however, Billa has become increasingly aware of her bodily functions and of the potty process.  For instance, the other day, she was squatting and grunting and I asked her what she was doing.  "Poo poo!" she told me proudly.  Ok then!  Good to know (And boy did she ever).  Another time, she grabbed her crotch region and told Michael, "Wet!  Wet!" in her little Texan accent.  Sure enough, her diaper was full and needed changing.  And she loves to help us flush the tee tee and poo poo away in the potty.  In fact, that's her favorite thing; she'll flush that potty several times just to make sure it's all gone.  Good to know she's efficient!

The biggest eye opener however, was when she tried to be helpful today and tried to WIPE me!  I tell you what, that was certainly an experience.  There I am, merrily doing my thing and my child is ripping off toilet paper and trying to shove it next to my lady bits.  Yeah.  That was a little awkward, if not highly amusing in hindsight.  While I was grateful for her enthusiasm to help, I was quite content to take care of my potty business on my own, thankyouverymuch!

In all, this tells me that Billa is *almost* ready to try potty training on her own.  I know some parents would get waaaay excited about this and just head on out to their local discount megamart and pick up every potty tool in the world, but not us.  Not that the yucky weather today would have stopped me; I just feel that a little bit more time needs to pass before I actually spend some money on a potty seat (if we actually decide to go that route...we may not!). 

While the 'wait and pee' approach might not work for every parent, it's working for us thus far, and seeing the progress that Billa has made in the last two months in regards to it tells me that we've made the right choice for our family.  Everyone tells me "they grow up so fast!" and children do.  I'm content to let her grow and explore on her own.  No need to speed that along.  There may be days when I wish she was three years older so I could understand the words coming out of her mouth, or so that we could do bake or craft together, but we'll get there.  I wouldn't want to miss out on her word explosion or her learning how to use crayons or graduating to a big girl bed just to achieve understanding and save myself some trouble.  I don't want to look back when she's an adult and wish I had spent more time watching her grow.  She'll be past toddlerhood soon enough.  Until then, we're just going to go with the flow [snicker].

Happily flowing,

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