“Daddy, I missed the potty, but that’s ok because I didn’t pee in my pants this time.”

On the one hand, that’s a good thing. Then again, the day before, Adam had declared, “Daddy, I peed in my pants and on the carpet at school!” So, I guess we’re making progress, right?

We’ve been changing diapers and Pull-Ups for over seven years now. So the idea of not lugging around a diaper bag and looking for changing tables everywhere is liberating. But the process to get there has been filled with lots of ups and downs and as usual, Adam is completely different in how he approaches things than his big brother. 

By the way, a brief side note on parenting and potty talk: No one explained to me that once you have children, their bowel movements and potty time become regular conversations. The bathroom, and everything surrounding it, often replaces previous romantic conversations, regular laughs and casual flirting between adults. We now focus on comparisons of what the bowel movement for each child actually means, complete with detailed descriptions (definitely less romantic). Oh, and if you think you’re getting any privacy for yourself in the bathroom – good luck with that. Now there’s lots of questions in awkward moments while you have little eyes watching you at a very close range. But enough about being stared at awkwardly, back to the boys….

We were forced to potty train Brandon at home during the pandemic while Sarah was nursing Adam. So it was a different experience because we were all in the house together, and Brandon wasn’t exposed to the peer pressure of his friends using the potty or anything else that might help motivate him. We also didn’t have to deal with other people giving direction or relying on other adults to reinforce what we were trying at home. 

With Adam, we tried to start potty training for months. Many of his friends were already going at school, but Adam wasn’t interested. He knew he had to go, but didn’t want to try. He would watch us in the bathroom, standing there like he would have to go, but ultimately waiting until he had his pullup on because, like I’ve written about in previous columns, our soon to be 4- going on 14-year-old has quite a mind of his own, and very strong opinions. 

We decided to continue moving forward with Adam’s potty training, and after a few days of accidents at school, we called for backup. Big Bro Brandon. And let me tell you, Brandon was a better teacher than any of us at helping Adam figure things out. In fact, Brandon told us “he could handle things and would take it from there.” He proceeded to show Adam what to do, guiding him each step of the way and explaining what to do (except for hand washing, which they both tend to forget). Maybe it’s that Adam was willing to listen to Brandon, when he wasn’t with us, but it was like someone flipped a switch and the light came on after that. In fact, someone even nicknamed Brandon “the potty whisperer.”

Suddenly, we went from Adam fighting us at every turn to visiting nearly every public restroom in South Jersey to check out the urinals, analyze the setup and leave our mark. It’s funny, because as an adult you just walk in the bathroom, do your business and walk out. But for a young child there are lots of questions. Adam started asking about whether the toilet is an automatic flush, where the water goes after you are done, and what the differences are with the types of soap dispensers.

So now that we’re past the initial hurdles, it’s starting to feel liberating. Adam isn’t fully potty trained yet but he’s getting there. He’s very proud of himself, and we are very proud of him. He definitely has done it on his own timeline, with the help of his Big Bro. Our next step will be to see how long we can sit at a table before he declares he needs to use the potty, and how long I can eat a meal without him needing to visit a restroom. Right now, I think we’re at about 7 minutes, but we’re working on it.


Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer


March 2024
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