I trusted you, Internets.
So when you told me to do nothing, to wait for my boy to use the toilet of his own volition, I believed you with every fiber of my bladder. Truth be told, your laid back approach thrilled me. With heaps of tedious tips anxiously applied, training hours in Sleeping, Eating, and If You Climb That Dresser One More Time So Help Me God dutifully logged, this advice felt like the gentle promise of a peaceful nap. So I sat on the couch. I waited.
Years inched by as the boy inched taller. Taller and taller until strangers pondered just why it was that this small man still sported Pampers. We’re waiting, I would explain to them. He’s three, I’d also add, though most glimpsed his bulky frame with serious doubt. I know you to be true, Internets, so I waited faithfully.
“I read we should just let him go when he wants,” I told his doctor not too long ago. “On the internet, yeah?,” she smirked. I waited for her to add the condescending “Oh, honey” but she just giggled into her white coat. It is an awful lot of waiting, I started to think. He is three. He is one ounce shy of busting out of diapers, I fret. I felt ashamed for doubting your character, Internets, so I logged on to check in, remind myself of your most honest heart. But you changed, and in place of those free-weeing, easygoing articles of going easily I found complicated and conflicting blog posts, urgent reports yelling in bold Garamond “WHY ISN’T HE POTTY TRAINED? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? USE CHEERIOS! YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS BEING A PARENT! WEE WEE WENDY DOLL! DO YOU EVEN REMEMBER TO FEED THE KID? FRENCH POTTY PUZZLE FOR KIDS WHO NEED TO PE-PE BILINGUAL-Y! HE’LL NEVER GET INTO COLLEGE! POTTY DANCE!”
I searched high and low, every dusty nook and cranny for affirmations that I should go back to sitting and waiting. Along the way I stumbled upon an enticing promise of a flat belly, drank cabbage soup for three days, watched my pooch deflate, and then gained three pounds when I sniffed near an Arby’s. Enough is enough, Internets. These fast-fix tales are false. You whispered sweet nothings in my lazy ear for far too long. I threw down a plastic tarp, strapped on my rubber gloves, and set out to do the dirtywork. I mean bathroom business.
Day #1 Cold Turkey
Diapers out. Boy panties on. Emotions and human feces ran wild.
Just kidding. That was me. The boy’s feelings were stone-cold and shockingly consistent.
The internet once told me that cold turkey diaper trashing was the best approach. What kid wants to sit in his own poo, right?
Mine. Mine is the answer. He channelled Bush and poop bombed everything in sight. Some surfaces he dropped messy missiles on with relentless repitition to ensure maximum fatality. By the end of this first day both mother and son were soaked in tears and urine. I found myself weeping over the twenty-third, hot-water load of turd stained everything. I found the boy head-hung and weeping over an empty diaper bag.
Day #2 Barry, The Bowel Movement Bear
Another web source warns that such a harsh method of toilet training will scar your child and presumably result in his felonious future. Dr.Phil encourages mustaches. He also advises parents to purchase a realistic doll which wets itself after drinking. The play-time process of witnessing plastic genitalia leak post-sip should show a child how to drop it low all the way to the bowl. I believe in investing in my son’s future. So I fetched a ripped-seam stuffed thing and slapped some stunner shades on him.
After several minutes of explaining the urinary tracts of bears as they correlate to the innards of humans, I felt sure the toddler got it. He spent many hours bottle feeding Barry, guiding the limp beast to the bathroom and showering praise in return for showering toilet. “Pottying is fun, right?,” I gleefully asked my son. “YES!,” he exclaimed, jumping about… until two nuggets fell from his pants. “Oh. I has to go poop now, Mom?,” and with that I learned that Dr. Phil is a brilliant fool. My kid did indeed love the role-playing, acting as helper to a holding-it bear. Great call. He loved it so much he couldn’t pause to take a poo.
Day #3 There’s A Donut Hole In My Bucket, Dear Liza.
When shit hits the fan I hit the fridge. I’ve read on the Internets that emotional eating is destructive, but this week I’m hanging on by a Twizzler. We’ve established that Internets is a contradictory creep because she also told me that giving the kid a high-five for whizzing wonderfully wouldn’t cut it. The kid needed toilet treats.
I’m fairly certain I misunderstood this concept because the boy grabbed Barry, locked the bathroom, and came out covered in chocolate of the candy and crap persuasion. To be fair, this advice is not altogether awful. The boy loves treats, but will, it turns out, eat them from the empty insides of a toilet. A diagram would’ve helped. Just saying.
Day #4 This is the part where Tom Hanks grows a beard & loses his mind.
I started the morning whining to a friend as Thomas sat inside starting his day with a healthy dump in the doorway. “You just gotta chill out. Just go with the flow. Ha. Get it? Flow? That was a joke,” She is giggling and I am remembering all at once that she is the same, thin thing who vouched for the kidney-blasting cabbage soup. So I don’t know then- if it’s her piss poor timing or her pee jokes or the fact that she pointed out that she’d made a pee pun- that made me want to smack her mouth. I looked over to find Thomas attempting to mop up a yellow lake with a cocktail napkin and told her I had to go. “NOT TO THE BATHROOM,” I added before she had a chance to laugh at a pun.
And there we were, exhausted and defeated. And there I found the treat of being tired. I packed up the candy, took down the celebratory streamers, and sat just where I’d started. That empty, losing place is a nice spot. I felt the weight of a thousand dirty diapers lift, enjoyed that warm, floating looseness of detaching from care and constant concern. I decided, Internets, that your helpful tips were not so helpful. I decided, Internets, that I was just pooped enough to go with the flow. Let the boy wee at will, poop as he pleases. I cuddled with Barry on the couch, my soul at peace and putting the endless stream of tips and toilet tricks to rest.
Some minutes later I heard a thud followed by muffled, maniacle laughter. “Yeah, Bay-Beh!,” it sounds like it could be my son, or Dave Matthews. I made my way to the bathroom, this place of carnage and frustration, where dreams go to get flushed.
Ankles bound in twisted underpants.
A trip. A thud.
A bare ass shining towards the sky.
Liquid gold in the nearby pot.
Edges of a smile planted on the floor.
And raising one triumphant fist, the boy boasted victoriously with his lips still on the ground:
“I Pees Awesome, Mom. I Pees SO Awesome.”
So today my son has been potty trained a hundred times over. And on Day #5, despite all sense, he just might not be. What I’ve learned in the potty training process is to go with the flow, never pass up a good sale on Febreze, and don’t trust your wee one’s wellness to crappy columns on the Internet. Not even this one.