Piss Poor: A Guide To Potty Training

 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!”

Will steal your poops... and your soul.
Will steal your poops… and your soul.

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.

Barry does pees so I iz too!
Barry does pees so I iz too!

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.

blog funnies 006

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.



83 thoughts on “Piss Poor: A Guide To Potty Training

  1. Crying, crying with laughter!! This is honestly the BEST potty-training post I have ever read!! Off to Tweet it right now! (and no, that is not a potty joke!)

    1. Good. I’d hate to have to smack your mouth 🙂
      Thanks for tweetering. It made me smile… because you’re nice… and because I’m so out of bodily fluids I can’t cry 🙂

  2. The alleged wisdom on all things baby changes with the times. In my day, sonny, the wisdom was that breast feeding was bad for baby and my mother was actively discouraged from doing it. In my mother’s day, which was right after WW II, the wisdom was that babies should be potty trained before 18 months or it was TOO LATE FOREVER!!!!!!1!

    Thankfully, children are resilient. And they forget most everything that happens before age 4.

    1. Hahahaha. A PLOP for good measure. It’s a humbling experience, getting so well acquainted with another human’s poo. On a positive note, I feel like I can officially handle anything!

  3. This is hilarious and if it is any help it took the best part of year to be able to say he was trustworthy in the potty department. He was nearly 4 by the time I felt he had truly mastered it, he just couldn’t be bothered, unlike my daughter who was the exact opposite.


    1. A lot of people encouraged me by saying that it should be a breeze because he’s older, able to clearly understand and articulate more. It’s true. The kid is smart and can talk. But it’s actually more infuriating a situation because he stares at me, with all his brainy words, and just poops himself out of spite. He’s slowly catching on that this is disgusting and the potty is a clean answer to his pee prayers. Until then? BLEACH.

  4. When my kids were this age I decided that potty training was like dying. There is a window of opportunity and if you miss it you have to wait for the next one to come around. LOVE the post.

  5. LOVE LOVE LOVE this. I have potty trained six kids. I only have one child, but people have LITERALLY dropped their children off at my house so I could potty train them. I WISH that I had known you were struggling with this. Maybe I could have helped.

    On the other hand, we wouldn’t have had these two fabulous posts.

    PS: Expect some accidents, but keep those diapers off! 😉

    1. I’ve hidden the diapers so well I can’t find them. Might have to try the same with ice cream, Milk Duds, and cake. I should be bikini ready and starving in NO time 🙂
      Also, you forgot to mention you are an actual saint. I’m a little pissed that I have to potty train one kid… and he’s mine.

  6. Gah! This potty-training business is enough to make a mom CRAZY! But after training three kids, I can vouch for your final conclusion. Go with the flow. I had one boy who caught on within a week or so. Another took his sweet time and almost couldn’t go to pre-school because he still hadn’t gotten the hang of it. Bottom line – none of my kids were still in diapers by the time they went to kindergarten.

    Thomas will get there. He might have some accidents in the process, but he’ll get there. And while you say, “He’s THREE!”, I keep thinking, “He’s ONLY three!”

    1. I didn’t think there was anything to freak out about until that doctor’s visit. She started in with the potty shaming. Then it seemed like everywhere I turned everyone was shocked that he hadn’t been trained a long, long time ago. Three does seem small to me. I mean it’s been round abouts 2 years since he even learned how to walk with his legs, maybe 6 months since he learned to speak clear words!

      1. Well, if it makes you feel better, one of my boys was well beyond 3 years old before he was trained. My nephew was 4. And both are well-adjusted young adults today.

      2. I’m grateful for your voice of reason. I lack reason most days. I’m not sure what got me so stressed and urgent about potty training him. A few people mentioned that he SHOULD be potty-trained and my mind short circuited. The rational part of me knows he’ll be fine, he won’t wear diapers forever. Of course, the rational part of me is pretty puny 🙂

  7. I am holding my gut after reading this, I laughed so hard! Laughter that was both with you and at your son’s triumph. It’s all cyclical. Yes, go with the flow and keep that sense of humor!

    1. Oh, I think seeing him lay there all hog-tied in his underpants and celebrating was the first time I’d laughed in a week. It was the perfectly weird victory dance for a perfectly weird week of “training”.

    1. Oh, please don’t! I’d hate to be THAT horrible piece of the internet leading you astray. If you take anything from this post, please let it be the Febreze. It’s like a consoling hug for a poor, poor nose 🙂

    1. Probably incredibly similar. Except for the fur… and the sassy-mouthed toddler. My dog never told me that she was “Gonna sits here, welax, and pee’s on the couch, Moms”. I think I love her more for that 🙂

  8. If this wasn’t so hilarious I’d be a little upset with you for making me re-live my nightmare! Haha! let me just say that I grew up with sisters. I was raised in a very matriarchal family. What I’m leading up to here is, I taught my son to sit for pee. That’s right. That’s what boys do in Europe and Canada. No mess, and if you’re lucky, the poo will happen close to the same time. Not sure if this is helpful or not… I just thought I’d throw it in as another possibility. (I think you’ve already figured out, when it comes to parenting, there are NO RULES.)

    1. Isn’t it silly? I know there are no brilliant, fix-all tips for parenting… but I keep looking! The boy is popping a squat for now, too. I told my husband he will be in charge of Standing Pee 101. I can’t be expected to demonstrate that mess 🙂

  9. Peed my pants laughing, and I’ve been potty trained for 40 years – poor boy doesn’t know the half of it!
    Although the Internet was invented when I was potty training, it took an hour to visit one site, our connection was via a snail or something. I can only imagine the misinformation that is out there. But of course I will add my two cents: best way to potty train is to put away diapers FOREVER. Just don’t go back. We didn’t leave the house for 3 days, in each case, but then they were trained.
    I’m a bit of a guru on this subject.

    1. We’ve shunned the diapers… except for night time. I don’t know if my soul (or his bladder) can handle midnight pee breaks right now. We’ll get rid of that diaper soon, but for now, that’s our relaxing break after a long day of peeing 🙂

  10. The Internet was designed to make us feel inferior/confuse the hell out of us/convince us that we’re totally doomed unless we follow other people’s directions. I’m glad you learned to be wary of it.

    Now uh, I think I have to go to the bathroom.

  11. Ha! School required us to have our toddler potty trained just about the time she turned three. Between throwing out poo-filled underwear and the urine stains on our new sofa, it was a ridiculously stressful event. Don’t even talk to me about night time potty training. I’m just not ready for that much laundry!

  12. Oh, how I love this post. It brings me back. To the internet, the parenting books, the playground advice and my own youngest little boy who would NOT potty train on my time frame. Go with the flow, indeed!

      1. I’ve been told this will be something I’ll laugh about when we’re past the actual human funk of it all. I don’t know though. The thought of childbirth still makes me cringe years later 🙂

    1. Thanks. I should probably add a disclaimer that I have no business, training, certification, etc. to give advice… on anything. Some poor parent is going to spend three days constructing a Barry The Bowel Movement Bear before she realizes I am an idiot.

    1. Jury’s still out on the Internets. On one hand, I do NOT think that article about the guy spotting Jesus on toast is true, but I kind of want to believe the article about the Sit On Couch & Eat Chips Diet with my whole heart 🙂

  13. I gotta say, potty training is much funnier when it’s happening to someone else 🙂 Sometimes I think people post stupid stuff on the internet just to see if people do it. I hope he gets the hang of it. Meanwhile, I’m going to go buy some stock in Procter and Gamble (Febreeze’s parent company)….

    1. I DO try the stupid stuff from the internet. I am Target Audience, Member #1 for stupid internet tips. You think I would’ve learned after countless failed crafts/diets/workouts/get-rich-in-2-minutes schemes.

  14. I have a ‘baby seat’ for my grandson (4 years old), he is afraid of the big seat and well he should be. The baby seat is just folds down when he needs to go, all part of potty training past.

    This was so good I laughed out loud.

    1. We haven’t even tried the big potty yet. I think I’m more scared than he is. He is a really big boy, though, so he is already almost too big for the plastic “practice” potty we’ve been using!

      1. Mine is literally part of the toilet seat, it just folds down on top of the regular seat. You can buy them most places to replace your current seat, they have them to fit most toilets.

  15. You’ve got your ball
    You’ve got your chain
    Tied to me tight tie me up again
    Who’s got their claws
    In you my friend
    Into your heart I’ll beat again

    Is that what he sounded like?

  16. What more could one ask for in life than to pees awesome? Score!

    Apropos of nothing, I love your new gravatar picture. You look like a glamorous 30s movie star, Tori!

    1. He’s so proud of his pees-ing abilities. I am just relieved, as I was starting to have nightmares of sending a Will Ferrel look-alike to community college in with boxers covered in maxi pads.
      Also, thanks 🙂 That was the one and only time someone did fancy girl makeup for me. I figure I need to use that picture as much as humanly possible to celebrate the occasion!

  17. These are the times when I’m happy that I don’t have kids yet. No mess. No fuss. Clean toilets. Regular sized toilets. Ahh life is good over here.
    But honestly. God bless you and your son. What troopers you are!

    1. God just bless him. The poor kid. I guess my thinking was that if his body just up and figured out how to walk and run then peeing couldn’t be that hard. He’s had to deal with the worn-out frazzled version of mom. The SECOND I calmed the hell down he went to the bathroom like it was no big thing. This is reaffirming that I am, indeed, the problem 🙂

  18. I absolutely love his words at the end. It is a process full of steps both forward and back, at first. Savour the victories when they happen. I think going with theflow is sound advice.

    1. You think I would’ve learned by now, just to chill out. This is almost always the right fix for my problems. He is doing great, especially now that I’m not stressing so much over it.

  19. Lacking kids, I have to relate ths to my one dog, the crazy dingo. Paper-trained but not “go out” trained, at a hotel, 2am, dog starts SCREAMING. Freaking out, we both decide that a walk might calm him down. My wife barely gets out the door with him, I’m still inside fighting to get a shoe on, and dog beelines to the nearest grass and relieves himself. And us, all at once. (He went on to teach our Border Collie about “going out” – we never had to lift a finger.)
    Then again, this was the dog that cleaned out a hotel wing of every bar of soap in every bathroom, so maybe that helped…..

  20. Good Lord! i remember those days. My youngest was the hardest. I remember some crazy-ass song we would sing…”You are a super duper pooper. You can potty with the best. No more diapers to get in your way. We are very impressed!” My husband and I would sing this hoping Jay would take the bait.” Then the kid would poop on the floor, or on the couch , or in a closet. Then I would cry.

  21. Victory!! Congrats, this is just the beginning: before you know it…there will be the first day of Kindergarten and then overnight sleepovers…UGH! Then forgotten homework and girlfriends…I mean “She’s just a friend, mom, stop it” and then the long slow nail-biting crawl to Graduation (where I am now) Just thinking about it makes me need a nap.
    Seriously, your post is one of the FUNNIEST I’ve read in a long time…thanks for that!

    1. I can’t think past 3 1/2 right now. The idea that he might one day date girls and operate a motor vehicle makes me get hives. Terrifying! Luckily, the more I’ve chilled out about the potty training, the better it’s gone!

  22. oooh poop jokes…ye never disappoint. And neither did “Dr. Phil encourages mustaches.” So hilarious. And thanks for the insight into my future. My little man is only a year and a half, but I still see some trials, tribulations and piles of crap in the next year.

    1. Ahhh! Sorry about this whole post. You’re probably anxious about it already. I’ve heard that it’s much, much easier if you don’t wait so long. Then again, I read that from the internet, so???

  23. Love it, girl! You’re a brave one to hold out this long! Once my kid’s poops looked like grown-up dumps, I was ovvvver it. E loves to run around naked, so we just went naked for four days and the peeing was mastered. Pooping took a couple weeks and a LOT of encouragement (read M&Ms, bribes to buy toys, etc. We spared no expense to get him there). Everything was perfect….and then he saw Dad peeeing. Standing up peeeeing.

    My bathroom now smells like a locker room.

    1. We’ve yet to even think about teaching him to stand up and pee. I’m just recovering from teaching him to pee in the toilet at all! The poops? DISGUSTING. I’ve handled a lot of gross business being a mom, but for whatever reason those toilet poos make me want to die a little.

      1. Ummwwell try dealing with the stank poops while battling nausea via baby number two! I’ve been nothing but dry heaves when Mr. comes running to me, in all his glory, “Poopy butt, poopy butt. Mommy wipe my butt!”

  24. HA – hilarious. Right there with you, too. My son is 3 1/2 and on the autism spectrum. We finally got him to pee in the potty. But poop? Nope. He’d rather hold it for five days. Or crap his pants and get it everywhere in an effort to hide his mess. Thanks for the Febreeze tip 😀

  25. Completely hilarious. We are just dipping our toe in the potty training waters with our 26 month old. She loves watching Elmo’s Potty Time, but doesn’t seem to notice when she needs to poop. Or that she has pooped. Luckily, she still fits in the size 4 diapers I had my dad pick up at Sam’s. heh. Thanks for sharing on Hump Day Hook Up. 🙂

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