Super Nanny and Elmo Undies RULE! / by Susie Lubell

I'm not too self righteous or embarrassed for that matter to admit that on occasion my husband and I watch Super Nanny. Watching television is about the only thing I want to do at 9:00 pm after my kids are finally in bed. Plus watching Super Nanny in particular makes me feel like it could all be worse (I could have two sets of twin boys under the age of five with a husband in Iraq, for example). My husband is a big fan, mostly for the reassurance that his son isn't the only impossible kid out there.

Yesterday's episode featured a lovely couple - both professors in Hawaii - and their two boys age three and one. And the areas for improvement were in potty training and time-outs.

She made it look so easy. Just tell him he's a big boy, put him in underwear and miraculously he'll be able to stay dry. We'd once been that naive and our boy defiled every corner of the house. So we bribed him with chocolate raisins which worked for a time until the lavatory incident on a recent trip to New York. Over the last six months he'd been in underwear, pull-ups, back to diapers, back to pull-ups. He didn't know if he was coming or going (and when he was going, it wasn't in the potty).

And of course the Super Nanny is famous for the "naughty spot" - the place to go for time outs. We're not the best at time-out. If he won't stay in his room, I usually put my son in his crib (he doesn't climb out) but then he shrieks like a mermaid and slobbers all over himself and puts his whole fist in his mouth until he gags. Once he even threw up. It's not pleasant.

My husband and I decided to heed Super Nanny's advice and this morning I told my son that he would be wearing underwear from now on. After breakfast he peed on the potty, said bye bye to his diaper, picked out the Elmo undies for this auspicious occasion (the ones with the giant Elmo face on the tush) and got dressed without a fuss. I told his teachers at school that we were done with diapers and I apologized in advance if he peed all over the school. They were supportive having witnessed his previous potty prowess. And I'm proud to tell you right now that he was dry all day. Well, almost all day.

This evening he decided he wanted to color in my checkbook. When I told him to put the check book away he refused. I counted to three and he stood his ground. So I put him in the corner in the hallway and told him it was the naughty spot. He screamed and flailed himself at me and tried to escape for about twenty minutes. He also peed in his pants which made him even more upset (I made a pee pee on Elmo!). But this time I stood my ground. Eventually he was able to stand in the corner for a full two minutes without saying a word. Then he said he was sorry and I gave him a hug. We picked out Thomas the Tank Engine undies, got changed and moved on with our lives.