I’ve always known it was coming. Like a slowly approaching storm, far off on the horizon. Ominous and inevitable. I’m talking, of course, of the day when we’d have to start potty training my son.
My daughter, you see, was no walk in the park. We started when she was 17 months old and didn’t finish until more than a year later, thanks to a three-month period when she decided that she preferred the convenience of diapers after all, and went on a potty boycott.
Labradors are more easily housebroken.
We decided to wait a little longer with my son, for various reasons. For one, his “hardware” is a little more complicated. Secondly, he’s more Tasmanian devil than toddler. But when he started waking up with a dry diaper, we begrudgingly admitted it was time. So I dragged the dusty old Elmo potty up from the basement, and so began the training.
Our first attempt to civilize our young man was relatively successful. It was a challenge, however, just keeping him on the potty until nature took its course. Then, after reading every book in the house to him and entertaining him with every toy I could find, his patience had worn thin. I actually had to physically hold him down as I pleaded with him to stay put. Finally, nearly two hours in—Hallelujah!—we had pee.
Since that first marathon struggle, it really hasn’t been too bad. Oh, he puts up a fight at first. But then we just bribe him with M&Ms, and suddenly it’s Niagara Falls. Pavlov would be proud.
Surprisingly, he has been relatively cooperative when we go out to eat. However, the strange, horseshoe-shaped toilet seats you sometimes find in public bathrooms can leave a parent dangerously unprotected from a boy’s unpredictable stream, which can make for a shameful, soggy walk back to your table.
Funny thing is, every time he’s finished doing his business, he immediately stands up, points to the potty and says, “Look, Daddy…water!” My wife and I try to make it very clear that the liquid in the potty is not water. This is the kid, after all, who licked the bottom of his shoe, which had been resting in the street gutter, just so he could get a drink. This is the kid who, whenever we give him a shower, lies down flat on the floor to suck the warm, filthy water into his mouth. We understand that he has a drinking problem, and we’re terrified that we’ll walk in to the bathroom one day to find him slurping down the freshly squeezed contents of his red-plastic bedpan.
One thing I’m looking forward to, personally, is teaching my boy about the joys of peeing outside. There’s nothing quite like “watering” the flower garden late at night, beneath a clear, moonlit sky. It’s a liberating experience and one of the greatest gifts a father can share with his son.
So despite getting peed on daily and living in fear of the dreaded public accident, my wife and I both understand that if we just put in a couple months of hard work, we can be free from diapers forever and be able to use that money for more important things.
Like red wine and babysitters.