Potty Untraining

By: Amy Forstadt

Hey, you know how Brandy is doing these potty training special updates because Sophia is almost three and Brandy thinks it’s high time to get her out of diapers? Well Benjie is three-and-a-half and not toilet trained yet. And you know how Brandy has a potty-training system in place, and a routine, and even though it’s slow going, she’s making progress? I’m not doing any of that and now I have a problem.

It was going pretty well for a while. My approach to potty training was super-casual (as is my approach to most things parental). I didn’t push Benjie to do it before he was ready, I didn’t make him sit on the potty at certain times of day. He did it himself, gradually and at his own pace. I started to put underwear on him when we were home and he mostly stayed dry. We even had one beautiful day when he wore underwear out of the house and used a public bathroom not once, not twice, but three times. “This is easy,” I thought. “I don’t see why people make such a big deal out of potty training. It’s no biggie.”

Feeling confident (okay, cocky), I got this genius idea to make a chart. All my friends were doing it. You keep it in the bathroom! To track the poop and pee! The kid can see you checking it off and at the end there’s a big prize. (A big prize for the kid, that is. The parents’ big prize is that they no longer have to get intimate with someone else’s poop several times a day.) I thought the chart would be the perfect way to finish up Benjie’s potty training and get him something he really wanted: a big boy bed. (Yes, at 3.5 he’s still in a crib.) It would work out so well, this perfect confluence of many big boy things happening at the same time. Parent of the year: me.

So I made a chart, ten pees, ten poops, and a big boy bed would be his. The ten pees we did in about two days. Four poops crossed off, no problem. Then Thanksgiving happened. I don’t know if it was the traveling, my inherent laziness (i.e. yes you are going to wear a pull-up on the plane. I’m not going to deal with that, thank you very much), or the fact that Benjie had to face (so to speak) a bunch of unfamiliar toilets, but the potty training has not only stopped, it’s slammed into reverse.

I can’t remember the last time Benjie sat on the potty. He insists on wearing pull-ups all the time. The six empty squares on the poop chart are gathering dust and spider webs. I asked Benjie why he didn’t poop in the potty anymore and he said, “I don’t always know when the poop’s coming out. And I like to look out the window. And sometimes when I look out the window, the poop comes out.” Can’t argue with that logic.

In the meantime, I’m not sure what to do. Pushing isn’t my style, but maybe it’s time to incorporate sitting on the potty into our routine. Or I could go hardcore and do that potty-training-in-a-weekend boot camp. Then again, maybe I should just leave him alone and let him get back to it when he’s ready, which will be hopefully sometime before his high school graduation.

Plus, now I’ve got the problem of the big boy bed. Can I still get it for him, even as the incomplete chart taunts me from the bathroom wall? I’m afraid if I do that I’ll be teaching him that he doesn’t really have to be accountable for anything, and that mommy really has no rules or boundaries and sure she’ll buy you some cigarettes! Or I could just tell him that I changed my mind and he can get the big boy bed now and go to the potty whenever he feels ready to do it again…anytime before 2017. Besides, if he waits long enough I’m sure there will be a new wave of toilets. Maybe one that can potty train him itself. Or maybe one that plays soothing waterfall and, um, plopping noises. Hell, maybe he’ll be able to go via iPad. However it happens, I look forward to it. I just hope it’s before I’m in adult diapers of my own.

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