King of the Potty / by Susie Lubell

Well our son is potty trained. And it only took two weeks really. Two weeks and nine months. I made the mistake of listening to a colleague of mine at work who potty trained her three boys using an intensive behavioral modification method. She said it would take a day. Read the book, she said. Buy the pee pee dolly. You'll be diaper free in no time. Not the case.

I made my first attempt last November when my son had just turned two. I was about six months pregnant and thinking it would be really super to only have to diaper one child. So I designated a weekend for potty intervention. I bought "Potty Training in less than a Day" or something like that, and I bought an anatomically correct doll named Paul who came with underwear, a diaper and a mini-potty. I bought all kinds of treats to reinforce positive behavior - brownie bites, popcorn, chocolate raisins. I bought a ton of chocolate milk. I made notes from the book to keep us on track. And my son was a pretty good sport for a while. But the constant asking, "do you have to go to the potty?" "Are your pants dry?" - I started getting a headache. And it was a beautiful day and he was desperate to go to the park. So we did and he peed on the slide. I gave up after he soaked the bed during his nap. I figured I'd try again after the baby was born. Which I did.

By then he was about two and a half and could follow directions better. Plus some of his friends from school had started using the potty. I bought him a new potty, which we called Baby Paul's potty. Whatever. He started peeing in it which was very exciting, but he was terririfed to poop in that thing. I didn't push the issue but I must admit I was getting pretty tired of pulling big poops out of his underwear. His teachers weren't thrilled about it either so I started sending him in pull-ups, those evil diaper substitutes that are twice as expensive and half as absorbent. Then, since he was basically wearing a diaper, he started wetting his pants again.

Anyway, we decided two weeks ago that we would just forget about the diapers and forge ahead with underwear. And it worked. We had a handful of accidents but for the most part the kid is now doing his business in a designated receptacle. Even in public places. I bought a little fold-able plastic potty top that sits on a regular toilet to make the hole smaller (so tiny tushies don't fall in) with elmo and friends on there. He's willing to poop on elmo. Now he's even going by himself and taking down and pulling up his pants. So overall we're thrilled. Except for a few things...

I can't say I'm super happy about having to dump his poop in the toilet after he goes in the potty. First of all, it splashes and then I have to wipe down the toilet. It also stinks like all get out. It's amazing how much the water in a toilet really masks a lot of the smell. And the wiping isn't going that well. I can't get him clean enough. I ask him to bend over so I can be thorough but that feels like a little invasive. And then I have to clean the poop streaks off the potty. Nasty. And not to mention the pee which he insists dumping by himself. This morning he completely missed and poured a quart of piss on the far side of the toilet and all over the seat which I then had to mop up. And that's if it even goes in the potty. If I don't hold his penis down with my finger, he literally sprays straight ahead.

But he's trained. Gone are the days of diapers and Desitin - the last remaining vestiges of his short time as a baby. Another milestone achieved. Another notch on the belt of parenthood. Another reason to adopt a five year old next time around.