Potty Training, Round Two
More experienced and better prepared, potty training our second child should have been a breeze, right?
It certainly wasn’t though…
We started just as we did with our first; we bought a small, toddler-sized potty. We got one from IKEA. In my experience, they are the best. They are very well priced and look kind of comfortable (I’ve never tested it, I swear). They also wash easily and come in a very pleasing green colour.
After choosing the right potty for our trainee, it was all uphill.
I recall trying something different this time: ‘acquainting’ our young Polar Bear with the potty before diving right into the affair. We would put Polar Bear on the potty every once in a while, abandoning it for weeks at a time. We also kept it in the rooms we were currently playing in. We think these two differences helped him familiarize himself with his new potty‑shaped friend but, and probably more importantly, it also prevented my husband and I from losing our minds. Keeping a toddler on a potty is tough enough, even with all the mental gadgets we can entertain them with. But our strong-willed and boisterous Polar Bear was too much of a match for us anyway, and sadly, he knew it.
In this beginning stage, we would also ‘announce’ whenever one of us had to use the washroom. I’m not sure if this helped him but I thought it would clue him in to the fact that potty-training wasn’t so different from what everyone else was doing – and that going in a potty was a ‘normal event’.
He was a curious and insightful youngster and he picked up most things quickly. For instance, he knew to hold his pee and run like the dickens when the time called for it. He also loved to flush the potty (what kid doesn’t?) and would spend lengthy amounts of time “washing his hands” if I let him.
The next step, though, was focusing on his number twos. While Polar Bear was a natural at determining his bodily functions and needs, he greatly disliked going number two on the potty. He, like many of us I’m sure, preferred the piece and quiet of a nice smelling library or the comfort of antique furniture. He would disappear for a short length of time and when called, would not respond. It wasn’t long before my husband and I determined his usual haunts; under the walnut table, behind the mahogany piano, inside the oak cabinet, under Grandpa’s cedar desk. He also had to do his business whenever we entered a lumber store. He had a type and it wasn’t hard for me to picture him reading a newspaper at his leisure while knowingly disobeying us.
Well, we had our hands full. And it only became more entertaining.
On an outing one day at the mall, just the two of us, Polar Bear told me very quietly that it was time. Normally, my young and stubborn lad would hold in his number two until we got home, refusing to go in a public washroom, as piece and quiet were his element. Exhilarated and shocked, I practically flew with him on my back to the nearest washroom. We catapulted inside and I placed him on the potty, breathless with anticipation. He stared at me with big, doe-shaped eyes, shaking his head, essentially embarrassed at my antics. But he complied and sat obediently.
And we waited.
And waited. We were alone in the public washroom, something I was remarkably thankful for. This could be it! I recall verbally encouraging him, “Yes, you can do it,” “Push, push, push,” “You’ve got this, you’re such a big boy.” But alas, he eventually declared he didn’t have to go and referenced how he peed, and that that should be good enough.
Crestfallen, I pulled up his trousers and made him wait while I used the washroom. As I sat down to go, a couple of girls entered the washroom and occupied some stalls next to ours. They were chatting away through the cubicles, comparing their purchases and prices.
Polar Bear was playing with a toy car he held in his hand for a moment. Then, noticing that I was on the potty, came right over to me. He looked at me with such concern in his eyes, placing his hand on one of my shoulders.
“Push, Mommy, Push!” he started screeching out loud. “Go, poop! You can do it!”
The girls in the cubicles next to us erupted into hysterical laughter as my face became the colour of a ripe strawberry. My jaw dropped and admittedly I began to shake with laughter too as I tried to shush my son, who persistently continued to encourage me to poop in the potty.
So shocked and embarrassed was I, that I kept my son in our cubicle until the girls had left the washroom, leaving it only when I was certain they would be long gone, likely telling anyone who would listen along the way.
Well, children are nonetheless the most entertaining portion of my life, leaving me shaking my head and smiling with disbelief. Polar Bear did eventually potty train successfully. It only took observant parents who watched his every move to halt his ‘disappearing acts.’
Shockingly, Polar Bear also started moving his potty to his favourite places to obtain the piece and quiet he sought. A clever boy to boot.
With reflection, every child is indeed different. And we’ve all learned a thing or two!