Friday, February 24, 2012

Potty Training is Turning my Children into Horrible People

I wrote a post on Aiming Low a while back about my concerns surrounding the prospect of potty training the twins (19 months old at the time)--something I thought was going to start happening within a few months of its publication.  I got scores of suggestions from readers about how to approach the process, and most of them stressed the importance of waiting until the kids were ready.  Only a few recommended books or videos.  They made it sound like it was something that would just happen, that we simply needed to support and encourage the kids along the way.

And here we are, a mere year after I wrote that post, just starting to get into potty training in earnest.

Back when I wrote about potty training the first time, I have to admit that I felt a little competitive.  Part of me wanted my kids to be out of diapers by the time they were two, so people would believe that they, and their parents, were geniuses.

Then I started thinking about it more practically.  I looked at all of the disgusting public places that I would have to take them to do their business, realized that some of our favorite playgrounds have no restrooms at all, and thought about the potential trauma (to me mostly) of taking two little girls into men's rooms.  Would we all cram into one filthy stall?  Would I let one of them roam around among the urinating creeps while I dangled the other over the skanky toilet, waiting for her to pee as my spine slowly collapsed?  Changing diapers on a park bench suddenly seemed not so horrible.


So we read them cute little potty books, let them watch the Elmo potty video, furnished both the bathrooms with potties, and waited for the kids to be ready.  A few months ago, there was a little flurry of potty usage, and then they lost interest.  But now, as they say, It Is On.  We've been staying at home more than usual, the kids running around either in "nekkid guy" mode or in their undies; and using the potty has become the central activity.

It's pretty exciting.  We've gone two days now with no diapers (except when they're sleeping), and no accidents.  (I know: I just jinxed myself with that bit of hubris.)

I'm still blown away by the idea that kids do this willingly.  I mean, obviously most children get potty trained somehow or another.  Even terrible parents have kids who know how to use the bathroom.  Still, I half expected to encounter complete resistance to the idea.  I should know better by now, but I'm skeptical every time they approach a developmental milestone.  Not long ago it seemed inconceivable that they would walk or talk.

But one of the reasons they're so eager to adapt to the societal expectations regarding poop is the same reason they're breaking their old man's heart: avarice.  On the advice of a lot of reliable sources, we've started rewarding them with candy.  Peeing in the potty earns them a Skittle.  Pooping is good for an M&M Easter egg.  This might not sound like much, but they haven't had a lot of candy before.  Baked goods, sure, but not the shiny, colorful little sugar pellets we now have displayed in jars in the bathrooms.

I fear they will stop at nothing to acquire it.

They have become greedy little candy fiends.  Within just a few days, they've trained themselves to release short bursts of urine into the potty every ten minutes or so, to maximize their access to the rainbow of fruit flavors throughout the day.

Up until now, they had hardly ever tried to deceive us, as far as I know.  When asked who made a mess or broke something, they would cheerfully drop dimes on themselves.  When they wanted something, they asked nicely or they screamed, with varying results.  But given this new world of commerce, there are ways they can game the system, including outright grift.  When they can no longer squeeze any currency out of their bladders, they simply sit on the potty seat over the grownup toilet, where it's hard to tell if they've actually produced anything, and lie right to my face.  "I peed!" they shout with glee, even though they just did so two minutes earlier.

If only we could isolate the traits from each age that we wanted to preserve, and move past the unpleasant ones.  I love that the girls are more independent now, and it will be great when I don't have to be so involved with their bodily functions.  But it saddens me to see them catching on to the potential benefits of deception, like little flimflam artists or Fortune 500 CEOs.

I'm afraid they've got me on the ropes.  I've accused them of lying, only to find droplets of evidence that they were telling the truth, which makes me feel guilty.  But I'm sure I've been scammed out of way more Skittles than I have withheld unrightfully; and as they're becoming more devious, I'm becoming less vigilant.  At least they haven't duped me into giving them the premium treats reserved for pooping, try as they might.  That's much easier to verify.



   


 

25 comments:

  1. We fell off the potty train with our two year old. She was so excited at first- gleefully running around the house nakey. And then she just lost interest- simply balked at the whole idea. I wrote about our early trials of a naked peeing kid here: http://threeoclockcrazy.blogspot.com/2012/01/potty-train.html

    She now just looks me in the eye and tells me as she is in the act of doing it in her diaper, "I peeing." I've found her naked when I retrieve her from her nap- her full pee diaper tossed across the room on her older sister's bed. I'd be so happy to have a candy fiend who at least tried to squeeze some out on the potty.

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    1. Oh man. As I said, I'm pretty sure I jinxed it with my boasting. This morning they have very little interest in using the potty. Could be a long haul yet.

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    2. LOL....I had to laugh when I read your reply, Amy. Same situation here. I've resorted to using threats. Oh, you want swimming lessons? Pre-school next fall? Well, only big girls who use the potty get to do THAT! And then she looks at me, smiles oh so sweetly and says "I peeing! I peeing faster! Ok, I'm done now, change my diaper." sigh....yes mistress....

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  2. Hey, try the sticker method.. Worked for me... Post paper w/their names and each time they go to the bathroom reward with a sticker.. Believe me its better than the m&m trick.. I think I told u my middle one would go in and take handfuls of m&m's and then laugh after I caught her!.

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    Replies
    1. We're using stickers for night time after they brush their teeth. It's working so far. Our plan is to phase out the candy ASAP.

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    2. You gave had too many different candies...omg, if I were them I would of been the same way! lol....I just stuck w/one m&m for #1, and 2 pieces for #2... I've learned just stay basic, don't give them too many options.

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  3. 5 kids 2 years(each) apart. It took me a full ten years before I had hair grow back on that right side of my head.

    In all seriousness, having each of those five kids get their driver's licence, then within 6 months get into an accident that was "totally the other guy's fault!", was less traumatic than potty training. I *reaaaaaallly hated potty training. :/

    In my opinion, toss out "water boarding" and make all the bad guys work at a nursery or day care where they have to teach a few kids to go potty. That'll make 'em talk.

    Good luck Dude, I'm having flashbacks and I need to go lay down.

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    1. Wow. That testimonial makes me have much less fear of the teenage years. Thanks!

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  4. Do you notice ten asking for something to drink more often?

    I believe the little stinkers are plunking you... They probably knew how to use the toilet all along. They're simply playing along for candy.

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    Replies
    1. Ugh typos! Plunking = punking and ten = them.

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    2. You're right. There's little doubt that they're playing me for a fool.

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  5. Oh potty training was uber fun at my house. With the oldest we were sure it was going to be a major process and got every reward method we could think of and the one that worked (and fast) was the sticker reward chart. Everytime he went he got a sticker on the chart and we made a HUGE deal about "how great it is you can use the potty!" He was so easy that, silly me I thought the second one would be a breeze! HA! That one took 2x as long and a LOT of repetition. Just remember that it can't last forever!

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    1. Sounds like a blast! Maybe my kids will get into it at totally different rates. They might even take turns backsliding. Can't wait.

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    2. on the rewards thing, we are trying to "encourage" our 4 year old to get some attitude improvement. We have gone with a marble jar, and when it is full, she gets to pick a special reward - I think at this stage she will want to go out to dinner with just mum and dad (no pesky babies!)

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  6. My nephew was potty trained using the pay as you go system - for every time he successfully went in the potty he got cold hard cash, to be immediately spent on a toy or treat he had been coveting. Worked like a charm, taught him about the cost of doing business, and wasn't always sugar related. Sure, my brother went broke for a few months but he says it was totally worth it.

    Good post!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I wonder if the kids will take PayPal?

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  7. Well done -- the training and the telling of it. Congrats on participating at the DAD2.0 conference.

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  8. Is there any hope of ME cashing in on this thing when I visit your house? I am SO there.

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  9. We did a bit of baby sign language with our first daughter, and there was a stage just before 2 that she was really good at telling us when she had done a wee/poo, and sometimes just before... but we didn't jump on the opportunity to toilet train as it was the middle of winter, and also we are lazy!

    I kept asking people for advice, and they basically all said "it just happens". After a year or so of constantly asking if she needed to go to the toilet, unceremoniously placing her on the toilet even if she says "no", cleaning many soiled pants, and often following her around with a mop during nappy off time... yes, it did "just happen".

    Our twins are a few days shy of 18 months, and Jules has started telling us just after she has done a wee or poo (Paddy seems oblivious, apart from the facial expressions)... again, I am not sure if we will bother pushing the potty thing just yet - although I have put her on the potty a few times just to see if I could "get lucky". We still have a couple months of good weather, so we may try the nappy off thing for a while, but we wont be pushing it hard just yet.

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  10. I cannot imagine just how difficult it must be potty training two children at the same time - we have enough fun with just the one.

    Kudos to those who manage :)

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  11. My boy-o will be 4 in June. I'm thinking we missed an opportunity around age 2. He full well knows how to use the potty and when he has to go, he just refuses to. You ask him why not and you get "because I don't." for an answer. Or you ask him when he'll use the potty all the time he'll respond with "when I'm grown up" or recently, "when I'm 5."
    Anyhow, we just started the M&M bribe this week. He gets 1 if he tells us he has to go and actually tries. He gets a 2nd if he actually pees and 2 more on top of that for if he poops, earning up to 5 M&Ms in one go. Even though M&M's are a favorite, he only managed to earn 1 yesterday and lots of wet pull-ups. *sigh* His usual response: "maybe tomorrow".

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  12. Did the same with the pumpkin man via peanut m&ms. one for peeing, 3 for pooping. He started pushing out smaller and smaller and more and more frequent poops/. He would've squeezes a poop out of a constipated bulimic for 3 peanut m&ms.

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  13. Good work guys. I am wondering though, have you ever heard the sound of a full potty tumbling down the stairs? The trail of devastation is extremely character-building though it does, I have to admit, scar the mind irreparably.

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  14. I love this short clip about potty training children and giving them candy.. Its from Freakanomics...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2hhIWbz0Ns

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  15. I wish we can reach 3 yo to start potty training here in France ! But kids have to be clean before going to school in september, their third year... Those who were born on december only have 32 months old when they enter to school :/ That is what i'm fighting everyday with my 2 and a half yo boy arghhh and my mother who say we were clean at 18 months old... hum really ?! Training boy for potty

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