In which our reluctant hero spends an unusual amount of time visiting the lavatory.
WhatsApp – Tuesday – 08:46
“Just had first wee on the floor.”
“Ugh. How’s the boy getting on though?”
The unavoidable chore that every parent dreads – toilet training – is upon us once more. Of course, when I say “every parent” what I mean is “every parent asides from the smug owners of a first female child that, against all logic, toilet trains themselves in an afternoon.” May you one day be gifted a boy child who thinks that toilet training is an opportunity to practise skills better used at Pontypandy Fire Station, just to even things up.
Which, ironically, appears to be exactly what has happened to us.
I confess that I didn’t think that toilet training was a big problem until now. Our eldest, then aged around two and a bit, practically ripped her nappy off and declared “I’m not wearing nappies anymore!” True to her word, she didn’t and, asides from a couple of accidents, that was that.
Our youngest will be three next month so his enrolment into Underpants Club is long overdue. We’ve tried to get him to join before of course, but he never really got to grips with the club rules. With school nursery starting in September, he needs to pull his socks up and his pants down. Sharpish.
Before having a boy, I had assumed that girls being easier to bring up than boys was a myth started by mums to reinforce the other myth that girls are better than boys. Which they’re not. Probably.
The late toddler stage of our two children’s development has been similar in many ways, with the most noticeable differences being in their respective behaviours.
At around three, our daughter took a one way trip to Strop City with stamping feet, kicking things, and getting over-emotional featuring heavily. She’s her mum’s little girl, for sure.
Our son, on the other hand, is usually a lot more in control of his emotions. Instead, he puts his energy into making noise and mess, breaking things, not concentrating and, infuriatingly, not listening. He’s his mum’s little boy, for sure.
So, asides from the not concentrating and listening thing, why haven’t we managed to get him in the saddle?
Our son is now much older than when his sister mastered the toilet, so if the girls maturing faster thing is indeed a thing, this should have evened out by now.
Having checked a few websites listing the developmental and cognitive milestones that children should reach between the age of three and four, he can do almost everything at two. Also, Googling “potty training myths” reveals two recurring themes. The first is that all toddlers, irrespective of gender, are capable of being toilet trained from around 22 months. Secondly, that boys being harder to train is a fallacy. It is exactly the same for both.
You’ve run out of excuses, boyo. The nappies are coming off.
To say that he was unhappy about this is an understatement. The boy has become very attached to his nappies, and not just because we don’t change them often enough.
To start day one proper, big sister made a “wees and poos” sticker chart for encouragement. Then off came the nappy and on went the Paw Patrol pants. Why are children’s underpants so much cooler than the grown up equivalents?
The second step was to deploy the default never fails weapon from our parenting arsenal – bribery – with a set of six toy police cars to be awarded for a dry day. Deliberately misunderstanding this, he raced to the toilet, did his business and returned to claim his prize. Cute, but forget it, mister. That only goes to prove that you can do it.
Tuesday’s results were mixed but better than during Sunday’s aborted attempt. Most of his waste ended up in the right place, albeit largely trainer led. There were about half a dozen leaks, two of which occurred after I got home from work. The first spilled out while colouring, the second while dancing around and throwing bits of Play-Doh all over the dining room. I was considerably more annoyed cleaning up the small green trampled in splats than the warm puddle nearby.
Amazingly, the overnight pull-ups were dry on Wednesday morning and mum woke to a shout of “I need the toilet!” And indeed he did. The rest of the day was incident free. Mum even played the toilet version of Russian Roulette, visiting the local theatre to watch Goldilocks nappy free. OK, he was sat on an absorbent sheet big enough to suck up the recently refilled Tettenhall Pool, but it was a brave move nonetheless. Come bedtime, a proud boy received his little nee-naws as reward.
By Thursday lunchtime, the sticker chart was filling up nicely, with only one near miss when he was caught trying to do a number two in his pants. Fortunately, there was no harm done, and a quick recap of the rules was administered.
Having the day off, I took the children to West Park for the afternoon. With the amount of toilet training paraphernalia needed for this trip, I would have probably been better off taking a Sherpa than a buggy. At the park, I realised that “I don’t need the toilet” actually means “Bog off – I’m doing something more fun.” Whipping out a bag of Mini Cheddars was enough of an incentive to successfully try the potty. Result.
The rest of the afternoon, including a trip to the vets for the cat’s booster vaccination, was fine. The faces of the receptionists were a picture as a two year old boy (wearing a Paw Patrol hat and matching blue nail varnish – don’t ask) marched in to announce “My cat doesn’t feel very well. He needs to see the vet!”
Later that evening, as I ran the bath, the wheels, sadly, came off. I could hear a commotion downstairs, the cause of which was again bottom related. I’ll spare you the details, but I was glad to be upstairs at the time.
Keen to redeem himself, I’m told that this morning’s efforts were all successful including an unprompted potty use and clean up. However, a second investigation into Poogate is currently underway.
Four days in and the boy is doing quite well, although I suspect that there’s more than a bit to go before he is properly nappy free. We’ll see.
The week’s learning point? “Parenting. Sh*t happens. Literally.”