Potty Training Adventures

I have never been so proud of bowel movements.

We began potty training our son, Elvis, a few weeks ago. We eased him into the process with the convenient yet pointless Pull-Ups and their sneaky tricks to entice you into buying boxes and boxes of them under the guise of “potty training” when really, they are just absorbent underwear, diapers without velcro tabs. Annoying.

So after messing around with the Pull-Ups for a while, we decided to go all out. It was time to buy the underwear. Naturally, we made a big deal out of the “big boy” undies and their manly navy blue with baseballs and basketballs all over them, snagging a box of Disney Pixar Cars underwear for after he goes in the potty — “Now you get to wear the REALLY COOL underwear!!!!” And thus, the pants-wetting began.

It was slow going at first – lots of walking around in wet pants as if nothing at all happened down there between his legs. We escorted him off to the bathroom every 30 minutes, kept him in his underwear and a t-shirt all day (no sense wearing pants during this process, people), and did our best to stay patient and calm… after all, this is a big deal, this potty business.

Some people have begun potty training their kids as soon as they can sit up, and I have to admit I’m amazed and envious. How?! The child can’t even feed himself but we’re pooping in the potty? Amazing. Absolutely amazing. We have not been so motivated – infancy was a time reserved for bewilderment and frustration (“Why is he/she crying now?!”), and adding in random and unpredictable trips to the bathroom to prop my head-bobbing child on a potty seat just wasn’t going to happen. I am certain I would have let them tumble into the toilet. I know these things about myself.

Our goal has been to potty train the kids before two hits – that momentous occasion when children decide that everything their parents have ever wanted them to do was the most ridiculous idea they’ve ever heard, a phase that lasts approximately until the children have children. Elvis will be two in August, and we have many a vacation and road trip and wedding to attend in the next few months, so it was now or never.

There have been many marshmallows promised in exchange for pee. Bribery is not a tactic of which I am proud, but sometimes you have no choice – half a marshmallow for pee, a whole marshmallow for poop. The kid will have diabetes by the time he is three. The first time our son finally peed on the potty, it took him ten minutes of sitting there, resisting sitting there, and then being somewhat pinned to the potty seat by mean old Mom, but once E succumbed, crying, to having to pee on the seat, there was much rejoicing. I think I screamed. Hooray, Elvis! Great job little man! Elvis peed on the potty! Weeee! Lots of this sort of thing.

The first go-around is the hardest – breaking down the fear and confusion, dissolving the idea that pee and poop in the pants is the way we’ve always done it, what’s wrong with it, what’s the big deal – these are the barriers that must be overcome. Much like any bad habit or sin, the first phase is denial – there’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing. And then we move into grief – mourning the fact that I have to give up the ability to go whenever I want, however I want… even though it stinks, literally. Later, there’s repentance – okay, okay, I get it, it would be better for you and me if I did things your way. And finally, reward – we begin to see the benefits and advantages of doing things God’s way… or the big boy way, in Elvis’s case.

And it appears as if we have arrived. Tonight, Elvis pooped in the potty for the first time, ever. A momentous occasion – one wildly celebrated by everyone in the house. Marshmallows for everyone!

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

One thought on “Potty Training Adventures

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: