Potty Training. Or as I like to call it “This is my life now.”

Everybody in the house who’s trying to toilet train their child, let me hear you say “OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE SOMEONE HELP, OR AT LEAST MAKE THIS MISERY STOP!” …Wayoh.

So, anyone else attempted this yet? We’ve been trying to potty train on and off since the beginning of the year. So far it’s been nothing but pain, frustration and a lot of crying. And that’s just from the adults. At first it seemed liked this was going to be a piece of cake. Stormaggedon took to it quite easily, doing a wee on the potty up to 5 times a day at one point. His was barely wetting, and I can still remember one particular day when he wore one disposable nappy the entire day until bed time. But that brief yet glorious time all came crashing down. With absolutely no reason or explanation. Perhaps he realised that he was gaining too much independence too quickly, that he would no longer need to rely on myself and the hubby as much as previously. Perhaps he didn’t like the idea of shedding his baby status. We will never know, but all of a sudden he simply refused to go. Attempting to wrangle a cat into a tub for their biannual bath would have been a walk in the park compared to struggling with my son on the potty. He suddenly worked out that if he planked it was impossible to sit him down. Many times during these struggles we would simply give up forcing to him to sit, thinking perhaps that he just didn’t need to go, for him to then simply walk to the corner of the room and pee on the floor. Sometimes it felt like it was almost deliberate. I hope that it wasn’t. And it’s not like we ever made a big deal about it, or were disappointed, and we certainly never yelled. We’ve always been very careful not to be emotional for fear of him developing a complex, because as we all know that will just make it worse. So when he’s refused, we’ve simply said “Ok, maybe next time”, and back on with the nappy, only for a ‘pooplosion’ to occur not 3 minutes later. Or we’d simply give up for a few weeks and try again hoping that maybe THIS month he’ll be ready.

It’s amazing how potty training can erode a parent’s ability to hold any type of thoughtful conversation that doesn’t involve lavatory habits. At the moment, whenever I’m in the presence of another adult I mean to enquire after their lives and achievements at the moment, or discuss current social and world affairs, or suggest taking in an art exhibition or new experimental film, but instead immediately degrade into “Stormy managed to do two wees on the potty this morning, and last week he even managed a poo!” The ridiculous look of pride and awe on my face awaits a mirrored response on how clever my child is, but is merely met with confused silence and quick change of topic. Nobody understands my life anyone. I don’t understand my life anymore.

Conversations with my child are now never ending questions consisting of variations of “Do you need to wee?”, “Are you doing a wee?”, “Do you need to use the potty?” etc. I feel like I have nothing else to say to my son. It’s just endless potty talk.

There’s an overwhelming sense to just have this done and dusted, and yet there’s also a part of me that dreads the inevitability. Nappies are so convenient and easy (well, when you’re not cleaning poo out from underneath your fingernails, because it didn’t quite hold it all in). You don’t have to worry about running around finding a toilet, or the dreaded car ride filled with “I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!” And frankly I don’t know which one has been worse: Stormy refusing to sit and doing everything to prevent us from putting him on the potty, or constantly taking his own pants and nappy off to sit on the potty 5 times within an hour and not do anything (and again, only to have him completely fill his nappy with wee when I finally dragged him off not two minutes later).

Advice from others seems to go nowhere. I’ve asked countless mothers at playgroup what techniques they used. All of them seem to answer with “Oh I didn’t do anything, they just trained themselves when they were ready.”, “My son was so easy it only took a couple of days”, “Nothing special, they just trained when they were ready”. Wow, thanks, that’s SO HELPFUL! And frankly the next person who suggests incentives to me will probably get their head bitten off. I’m sorry, but I simply don’t believe that a child should be rewarded for achieving a normal and required bodily function. Yes, I will clap and praise and dance around when he’s actually successful with a trip to the potty. But the idea of giving him a treat, or a sweet, or food, or a toy as some sort of positive re-enforcement just seems dangerous to me. Think about how many times you go to the toilet during the day. You’re actually telling me that I should give my son a chocolate or lollie every time he does that to reward him. I’m already super careful about the food that he eats during the day. And we all know how judgemental people can be when it comes to the sugar consumption of children. Not to mention the fact that Australia is leading the way in the childhood obesity epidemic compared to the rest of the world. But sure, why not give my two year old chocolate every time he does a wee. Are you kidding me!? Every time this has been suggested to me I’ve said flatly that it won’t be a good idea because I know exactly what will happen. He won’t understand the link between the toilet and the chocolate. He’ll ask for chocolate all the time regardless. Or, he’ll go to sit on the potty even though he doesn’t need to go with the expectation that he’ll get a chocolate. Don’t believe me? Think I’m over reacting? I’ll give you an example. We had actually been using an incentive. Mickey Mouse cartoons. He’s suddenly developed an obsession with them. We used them initially to encourage him to at least sit on the potty. Which worked for a while. Until he cottoned on to what we were doing. Then all of a sudden the first thing he would do in the morning would be to toddle off to the potty, sit down, and announce “Mickey Mouse on phone!” When I said no World War III erupted. So no, we won’t be using incentives. Stop suggesting them to me.

Look, I know people are well meaning, but I just need help and advice. I don’t have the answers. I just have months and months of frustration and repressed anger. I have one tiny step forward and fifteen gigantic leaps backwards. I’m scared to think that perhaps he’s never going to train, that he’ll be one of those three year olds who refuse to go to the toilet and will only poo in a nappy, that he’ll be in grade two and still wearing nappies to school, that he’ll be seven years old and pooing in his pants because he still doesn’t understand how to go to the toilet, or that he’ll be an adult pissing in the yard constantly because he has a fear of the toilet (yes all of these are true stories).

The most frustrating part about it is he gets it! He totally gets it. You ask him where do wees and poos go and he replies “In the potty”. But if you ask him if he needs to use the potty and you’re met with a resounding “NO!” How I wish I could describe the way he says this. How insistent and matter of fact, and outright lying it is. But what can I do? I don’t know where to start, or who to turn to for advice, or how to convince myself to not just give up on it all. I suppose I should just take it one day at a time, keep calm and carry on. And try not to end up with a potty mouth.

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