Ads 468x60px

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Potty Training: It Ain't for the Weak

The other day, I overheard a conversation between two mothers.  They were having an in-depth chat about potty training - sharing tips and comparing horror stories.  Their conversation unleashed a flood of memories in my brain about potty training - the good, the bad, and the super-duper ugly.  You see, they're distant memories because Gavin has been completely potty-trained for more than a year.  And, it's a good thing.  If I were still potty training that child, I'd hurl myself off a cliff.  Seriously.

During our potty-training days, I came to the conclusion that you have to be emotionally prepared to potty train your child.  It is a hard fought battle.  I'm not kidding.  That shit will break you down and make you want your own momma.  It ain't for the weak.  Let me explain.

Image c/o
We started potty training Gavin a few months before his second birthday.  He was interested and curious, and he actually asked to try to pee in the toilet (and he actually did).  So, we figured he was ready.  We bought a potty, some pull-ups, some underwear, and we were on our way.  Things went relatively smooth in the early potty training days.  It was new; it was novel.  We bribed, we rewarded, we applauded, and it was mostly working.  And, I've never been so excited about shit and piss in my life.  Oh, I clapped, I cheered, I jumped up and down, I willingly came to check out his "big" poop in the toilet and exclaimed how awesome it was, I texted pictures to relatives of the treasures in the potty chair, and I also paused to think, "What the hell has happened to my life."

But, it wasn't always easy, nor were we always celebrating.  After a few months, Gavin started putting up a fight about going potty when he woke up in the morning.  He was tired, and he'd rather just piss himself.  In order to get him to actually go sit on the potty, we had to increase the bribes.  (I also maintain that it is impossible to potty train a child without using some sort of bribe.  I don't care what the parenting experts say.  Candy trumps everything.)  So, instead of one M & M after going potty, he could have THREE.  And, after a few rough mornings, we got past that hurdle and resumed our daily peeing in the potty chair routine.  (On a side note, if I had to do it again, I'd forgo the potty chair.  They're just gross.  Pee gets where it's not supposed to, kids can pick up the "bowls," and no matter what you do, they always smell like three-week-old pee.  I'm gagging just thinking about it.)

I would say that, within a few months we really had the peeing thing down.  Now, pooping?  That was a whole different ballgame.  For some reason, Gavin was terrified of pooping on the potty.  I mean, in-tears-screaming-and-crying terrified.  I have no idea why; he just was.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I bribed.  Hell, I even cried.  I remember once, sitting on the bathroom floor, holding him as he sat on the toilet, begging him to just wait five seconds and try to poop.  He had an utter meltdown, and I started crying while visualizing all the ways in which this traumatic toilet experience would haunt him for the rest of his life.  But it didn't.  I know that for sure

His fear of pooping on the toilet also made him get the longest time-out in the history of time-outs.  You see, after a few months, I pretty much abandoned pull-ups and went with underwear.  Why?  Because pull-ups are glorified diapers.  There's no consequence to peeing or pooping in your pull-up because they absorb just as well as diapers.  I don't buy the "feel-wet" thing.  It didn't bother Gavin at all.  Now, when he peed or pooped in his underwear?  That was an issue.   But, pooping in his underwear didn't help him overcome his fear of going on the toilet.  He figured out a way around that.

What he would do is wear his "underwear shorts," a.k.a boxer shorts.  That way, when he pooped, the poo would just plummet to the floor.  I found poop on my floor often.  It was like having a puppy.  If I made him wear regular underwear, he would still poop in them, because it wasn't as bad as sitting on the toilet.  It even got to the point where he would hide or go outside so I didn't know he was pooping and try to make him sit on the potty.  Sneaky bugger.

Well, I caught on to his game, but not soon enough.  One day, he was outside on the deck playing, and I was inside cleaning.  The next thing I know, he comes in and says, "Momma, I pooped."  Annoyed, I looked at him.  I had just asked him to try not ten minutes ago.  "Where did you poop?"  I asked him.  "Outside."  What do you mean, outside?  Well, let me tell you.  He went outside, emptied all the toys and chair cushions out of the deck box, and took a shit in the deck box.  I could feel my blood boiling.  Not only did he refuse to go in the potty AGAIN, but now I have to clean shit out of the deck box.  Holy hell.  So, I put him in a really, really, really long time-out.  At least two hours.  It took me that long to calm down.  And clean out the deck box.

This looks like a great place to drop a load.
Now, you're probably wondering how we finally overcame the fear of pooping on the toilet.  Well, as I said earlier, BRIBES.  And, believe me when I say we took bribes to a whole new level.  I increased the candy.  No good.  I offered to let him pick out a toy from the toy store.  No dice.  So, what did we promise him that FINALLY got him to start giving pooing on the potty a try?  This:

Gavin's reward for pooping on the potty.

And believe me when I say that not having to change another diaper or carry a diaper bag everywhere I go is WELL worth the cost.  More than worth it. 


  1. I've had a really rough day (emphasis on the rough) saying goodbye to my oldest who is moving 3000 miles away to the east coast with her fiance to get married and have babies...but MAN, did you help me! I laughed out loud! I hope you bind these growing experiences with Gavin and give them to his fiance when he is say...30...and walking down the aisle with a wonderful young woman. Does that seem like a long way off? Well, let me tell you, it will be here before you know it. Enjoy that poopy practice! Soon you will be me...wondering where those years and funny (sometimes annoying) times have gone. Love your posts!!!

  2. OMGosh you have me laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee in my pants. Whenever someone asks me for potty training advice, I tell them "just kill yourself." Potty training my daughter was hell on Earth. We had the same problem with poop. That little pain in the ass refused to poop in the potty and I clean many a sheet and clothes. I have two more kids to potty train and I would pay any amount of money to have someone do it for me.
    Thanks for the laugh and knowing that I'm not the only one.

  3. My oldest was so difficult to potty train. She'd just poop in her pants and then go about her day as if nothing happened. We tried every bribe in the book - candy, special toys, star charts - nothing. Finally, one day we were at the library, and she pooped her pants. We had to go home from the library without checking out any books AND I had her go straight to nap after lunch (no tv shows.) That seemed to do the trick. I have one more to potty train, and I'm hoping it will be a little easier this time around.

  4. Oh yeah, it's definitely worth it. I also worried about scarring Avery. Then I figured, do you know any 30 year olds who are too scarred to use the potty? No, I didn't think so. I got all military on that shit eventually, too. Is Gavin potty-trained at night, too?????

  5. @Laura: Yes, he's potty trained at night and has been for almost a year. We had about a month or so worth of accidents at night, but after that we haven't had any. We stopped him from having anything to drink about 1 - 1.5 hours before bedtime and that really seemed to help.

  6. So did he get the reward after 1 time on the potty and he continued to go on it after that? It's a pretty sweet bribe!! We just upped the ante to hot wheels cars for every poop on the potty. It's pretty hit and miss though. When will it ever end!?! Thanks for your hilarious post! I'm visiting and following from the VB hop. --Christine at Why We Love Green,

  7. Oh my begeezes I need to start potty training my little one and I NOT looking forward to it she is 19 months but I want to start getting her familiar with all the fun potty stuff. I am so not ready for this. Wish me luck. I found your blog on the Blogaholic Network. Hope you can come by and visit my site :0)

  8. Thank you for this. Potty training was actually quite easy for us (knock on wood), but it is the teeth brushing that is getting us. Ugh! The pictures haven't worked and we have tried a sticker incentive. Maybe I should try that again! Good luck with the PT!
    Start Potty Training