Tuesday, January 23, 2007

And so it begins

When we bought a toddler-sized plastic potty a few months ago, Liza initially showed some interest, then a few days later ignored it completely. According to the latest potty training (aka toilet learning, aka elimination communication) literature, this is normal, and is the reason why you get the potty a few weeks or months before you plan to start the actual training process. So we let the potty sit there in the bathroom, collecting cat hair, and occasionally being stepped in when Liza was trying to get to the cat on the windowsill behind it.

Then it got cold, and Liza started to talk a lot more, and her diapers started to leak at least once a day. So we moved the potty into her room, started discussing the whole pooping process, and switched her to disposable pull-up diapers. Liza was in favor of this arrangement, as it meant she got to sit within arm's reach of her entire library of books, and she got my full attention, and she didn't have to go on the dreaded "Changing Table of Death, Disfigurement, and Banshee-like Wailing" nearly as often.

Still, Liza was only moderately interested in the whole process, until two things hit at the same time - a really wicked case of diaper rash (the sort where she screamed and cried and prayed for death, every time she peed) and the purchase of the Official Potty Books. Nothing like searing pain whenever you pee in your diaper to motivate you to pee in the potty instead - I can highly recommend it as a training tool.

The books are really what put us over the edge, though, into full-on toilet training. We went to Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago and bought two books - The Potty Book for Girls, and Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Tot. The first one is pretty much what you would expect - little girl gets a potty, has a few accidents, is successful, gets to pick out big girl panties. It's in rhyme, and has cute pictures, so I figured that Liza would like it better than some of the straight story-book-type books. The second book would be classified as "horrifying" if my daughter didn't love it so much and pee every time we get halfway through the first page. Basically, it's nursery rhymes where the lyrics have been changed to reflect on the potty training experience. So, for example, we get to sing "Tinkle, tinkle, little tot/sitting there upon the pot./Any second now, you'll see/sprinkle, splash, you'll go pee-pee./Tinkle, tinkle, little tot/sitting there upon the pot." Or, horror of horrors, "The Tushy Pushy" sung to the tune of the Hoky Poky, which pretty much has the same effect as driving stakes through the hearts of loyal Hokie fans everywhere. I'm halfway convinced that an alumnus dies every time I sing that song, but it could just be my imagination.

Liza, of course, loves this book, and asked to have it read 15 times the afternoon we got it home. Fifteen. I counted. Gaaahhhh.

Ever since we got the books (and the diaper rash - you've got to get some of that if you're training a toddler, I'm telling you, it's golden ... well, actually kinda red polka dots with open sores, but still ...) Liza has been doing really well with the whole potty thing. True, she won't even try to pull down her own pants, preferring instead to pee in her diaper, sit on the potty fully clothed, and try to use a wipe on the crotch of her jeans. And she insists on having no clothes on the lower half of her body when she's on the potty - no pull-up, no pants, some days even no socks. Not too inconvenient at home, but it's going to be a bit hard to pull off in a McDonald's restroom when we've got a flight to catch.

She won't tell us when she needs to go potty, she just takes off up the stairs with a determined look on her face, running into her room and jumping on the bed until I tackle her, pull down her pants, and sit her on the potty. But she's managed to stay dry for several hours at a time, and tonight she even managed to wear training underwear - you know, with the quadruple-thick crotch so she only leaves wet spots, not huge puddles - for two hours, going potty once in the meantime and staying dry from nap until shower time. We have meaningful (if one-sided) conversations about how she'll get to wear big-girl panties when she's using the potty all the time, and how we won't have to use the changing table at all once she learns to poop in the potty.
We're trying not to go overboard on potty training purchases, although it would be easy to drop a couple hundred dollars on this whole ordeal if we were so inclined. Plastic potty: $25. Adaptor seat for a regular potty: $15. New toilet seat to replace the one I broke trying to attach the adaptor seat: $19. Folding adaptor seat to take in the diaper bag when we go on vacation in February: $8. Pull-ups: $1,000,000,000. Dude, those suckers cost a mint. $8 for 30 of them, even when you buy the generic ones. And since she's nowhere near fully trained, we're still going through four or five of them a day. They're cheaper than the waterproof cloth training pants - $11 EACH for the ones I can buy over the internet - but STILL. What a racket. If the kid doesn't want to have to pay for her own college education, she'd better catch on to the whole potty thing pretty quick.

Like all parents, I have mixed feelings about the whole idea of getting the kid potty trained. Yes, it will be nice to not have to do diaper changes, and yes, it would be nice if FOR ONCE she did something earlier than her peers. But training means I get to spend way too much time hunched over on the floor of our powder room (actual size: 22 inches wide ... oh, how I wish I was kidding), reading the same books over and over again, while using the word "poop" at least 145 times a day, and still having to change leaky pull-ups. And I'm not sure how we're going to handle it when we go on vacation soon ... we may be far enough along that we need to stick with the program, which means lots of time spent in not-so-clean bathroom stalls at the airport, aquarium, zoo, etc. And with the potty adaptor and the changes of clothing and the extra pull-ups and wipes, I've had to switch back to the Diaper Bag of Herniation, rather than the rather svelte and somewhat trendy messenger bag I've gotten away with for the past few months.

And even once we get her trained, then instead of changing diapers, we get to have to ask her every 30 minutes whether she has to pee, and plan trips and errands according to their proximity to a bathroom in case she has to go. I think driving 13 hours home for any holiday is going to be out until her bladder is larger than a walnut, that's for sure.

So, basically, if you try to reach me and I don't answer, it's probably because I'm stuck on the floor of the powder room again, wedged between the toilet and the sink, singing "The Pee-Pee Dance" and bribing my daughter with the promise of M&Ms if she stays dry AND pees in the potty. I'll let you know how it goes.


Anonymous said...

We used bribery. We had "pee pee candy" as well as "poo poo candy". The kids would get the equivalent of an M&M for each of their successful visits to the pot. And we also read the ghastly toilet books.

While traveling, we had issues with the automatic flush toilets. These toilets will automatically flush if you sit on them for too long. Our kids would sit on them for too long. The bowl would roar and flush underneath them, spraying water as it swirled. Nathan was terrified. We would have to search for toilets that did not have a red blinking eye.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! You will now know where ALL the public restrooms are within a 50 mile radius of your home. Unless you live in Delaware, where you can claim to know where all the decent, clean restrooms are in the whole state :)

Katherine said...

pfeww, you can't imagine my relief at NOT finding a comment from my mother on this post! ;)