Thursday, August 30, 2012

I haven't wanted to mention anything until now, primarily to ward off any jinxes that may incur...but, after three weeks straight of solid success, I'm going to say it (here I go...) MY TODDLER IS POTTY TRAINED!!!!!  It's true, it's true!  Can you hear the angels singing?  Can you see the pigs flying?  Have you heard that dogs do, indeed, have lips?

Yes, against all doubts and challenges, my Matilda has conquered the potty.  Lid down, chin up, we've GOT it!!!!  I just can't believe it.  Sure, she's still in Pull-Ups for nap and night time, but besides that she is fully committed to cartoon-decorated-cute-as-a-button-underoozies all the way!!!  HOORAY!

I know what you're thinking, so I'll cut right to the chase:  How did you do it????  I wish I had a 3 step, easy answer plan for you.  But, to be honest, I'm still kinda shrugging my shoulders in amazement at the whole thing.

passing on her newly found knowledge
Matilda (who will be 3 in November) has been working on this for a full 10 months.  I mean, she first showed signs of interest in the potty last autumn, and so, without hesitation, I jumped on board and started introducing her to the idea.  I didn't want to squelch any inkling of curiosity she might have, and I thought "Hey, maybe I have the miracle child who will master this by 2, so who am I to stop progress?"

We just kept it positive.  Frankly, I had no particular plan and didn't know what else to do.  I had an idea in my head that we would just hunker down indoors for a couple weeks and keep running to the potty and through a series of bribes and treats she would catch on and get it.  But, then, there's this little thing called WILL...and, so, it was two steps forward and eighty steps back anytime I "got serious" about it.

She started wearing Pull-Ups instead of diapers around the same time, getting the idea between the difference of standing up to put it on and off instead of laying down to "be changed".  Since she has a baby sister, the difference between the two became crystal clear to her, and so the concept that "diapers are for babies only" stuck early on (even though it didn't keep her from requesting to be a baby and wear a diaper, I refused to back pedal if we didn't have to).

Keeping things positive, I never punished her or disciplined her for accidents or not being interested in going to the potty.  I tried to take her to the bathroom as often as I could when we were at home, and just kept asking and explaining things.  We had a couple cute books about little girls wearing panties instead of diapers and how they used the potty (turns out there is a WIDE range of children's literature surrounding this subject - everything from the silly basics to the graphically gnarly, so I just picked something cute yet educational to pique her interest enough and not make me want to blush or cringe too much).

When she wanted to go, we went.  When she didn't want to go, I didn't push it, but rather just explained again (and again and again) about feelings in her tummy and how using the potty felt so much better than having accidents or going in her pants.

Lots of people will say to not use Pull-Ups.  I've heard it all.  I understand that if they get used to relying on it, then they won't be forced to change.  Sure.  But, after a few days of washing out 10 pairs of undies or Clorox-wiping my floor for the 100th time...I'm thankful for the option.  We would just keep alternating between Pull-Ups and real undies, letting her pick out which "princess design" or "Minnie Mouse pattern" she wanted to wear that time.  I just kept encouraging her towards the panties, but it wasn't really worth an all-out-battle to me until she wanted to keep wearing them herself.

This went on for months.  I thought we were just at a stand still.  I would offer the occasional sticker reward or Hershey's Kiss treat for going on the potty (especially #2!) and get excited and dance and be silly and praise her as if she'd just won the Gold Medal in the Potty Olympics...but, then, an hour later she'd be over it and refuse to go.

Until a few weeks ago.  I can't tell you what happened.  She just got it.  For the first time EVER, she told me "Poo poo, mommy" before she had gone, and ran in the bathroom.  I followed her, helped her with her little seat-on-the-potty, and TADA!  She did it!  I praised her profusely, and let her pick out undies.  Then, the rest of the day, I just kept asking her and when she would need to go, she actually would nod and run to the potty and do it!


Something in her just finally switched on, and she started recognizing her body's signals.  After months and months of explaining to her and conditioning her with "What-to-do's" it finally just all clicked.  Now, we've even been out to others' houses and taken short trips to the store, and she remains in control (of her bladder, anyway).

Only ONE in diapers now????  What will I do with all this extra head space???  Not only is it a bit of a sanity-saver, but it's a money-saver too!  Pull-Ups (while my friend for being a nice transitional alternative) are even more expensive than diapers.  I'm so glad to be done with them.


I've heard stories of one-year-olds being potty trained.  I've heard stories of five-year-olds still wearing diapers.  Honestly, I was just trying to listen to my kid, be reasonable, and not let the standards of others rule our lives.  If your kid has it mastered at 18 months, awesome, good for you!  But, if you are still struggling and your kid is over 3 and you're worried that day will never get here - take heart!  This is not a sign that your kid "learns slowly" or is "too strong-willed" or that anything is physically wrong (of course, ask your Pediatrician, NOT a blog-writer, if you suspect differently) but, just that your kid is working on their own time, at their own pace, and success is right around the corner (maybe you're just at a long red light, so it's harder to see from where you are).
tricks of the trade

Potty training is just one hurdle in the oh-so-many hurdles to come in raising our kiddos.  It's truly a grand analogy for childrearing in general:  It's messy, it's aggravating, it's repetitive beyond comprehension, it's exhausting and sometimes you just want to resign yourself to having them rely on you forever.  But, they won't.  And really, we don't want them to.

We want them to succeed, of course.  And now, Matilda has taken on new challenges of her own all by herself.  She gets out the stool to turn on the light.  She strips her bum bare and monkeys her way onto the toilet without even using the training seat and somehow balances herself by her own strength.  She cleans herself up, flushes, and then runs out with her undies in hand proudly announcing as loudly as she can to the world what she has just accomplished...I PEEPEE ON DA PAW-TEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!  And I couldn't be more proud.  (I mean, if she could learn to say it a little more quietly in public, that'd be nice, I guess, but who am I to rain on her parade?)

I have to admit, too, it feels pretty awesome to have passed on knowledge that she will take with her the rest of her life.  This is a big milestone for a toddler, and even though I have to give 100% credit to God for allowing me the grace to withstand such a daunting task, I feel pride when I look at that smile on her face when she has conquered the challenge before her.

You don't need Pull-Ups or training seats or even princess undies to get through potty training.  But, a whole lot of prayer, patience, and a little perspective goes a long way.  Parenting seems to be made up of tiny little slivers of seasons that can so seamlessly run together we have a hard time seeing past them.  But, they are just seasons.  They come and go, and before we know it, we are on to a new challenge, learning a new lesson, healing from another wound, or climbing an even bigger mountain.

I don't know what season you're in.  Maybe you're long past potty training, or maybe you've just started changing diapers.  But, whatever it is, it won't last forever.  And, as much as I am proud and excited that Matilda has grown out of diaper-duty, a little piece of me is sad to see that phase over - the fact that she needs me a grain less today than she did the day before.  It's never easy to let go, if even just a little.

We have to do our best to be thankful for where we are, no matter the season - the good, the bad, and the disgustingly stinky.  We can't always know what we are learning or how soon we are supposed to learn it or even why we have to be the ones to learn it in the first place...(this is the "life is messy" part of it all) but we can know that our Eternal God is in charge of all things temporary.  We can rely on His patience when we have none.  We can tap into His love when we're fresh out.  We can call on His name when we don't know what else to scream.

And the awesome part is, He always cares...every sliver of every season in every life.

Thanks God, for getting me through this ridiculous season of potty training.  It might not sound fancy or grand or pleasant, but it was an ongoing, daily, taxing ordeal in my own little world.  Sure, in the long run, it was a short phase that barely effected anyone else.  But, I'm so grateful I have a God who will listen to me whine and desire even the littlest of successes in such an enormously needy world.


Maybe Matilda wasn't the only one who walked away from this having learned something new after all.

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