Potty-training my oldest child was a test of sanity. Potty-training my second was the biggest anticlimax I have experienced since becoming a parent.
Harriet has been begging to be potty-trained for quite some time, a number of small successes having already trickled in. My memories of this experiment with the first guinea pig are vivid–I kept pushing her off. I have dubbed the first day of potty-training “Plunge Day” and I was not yet ready to take it. (The Plunge, that is.) But when I procrastinate about something pressure begins to build inside until finally, usually at the worst possible moment, I can’t take it anymore and suddenly the avoided task must be done. Now. And I do things like clean out behind the refrigerator when guests are due in four minutes. And start potty-training unpremeditatedly and when I’m out of paper towels.
Early last Tuesday morning the volcano erupted and I spontaneously announced to Harriet that it was Big Girl Time. Plunge Day had dawned. I grabbed a handful of tiny Big Girl Panties from the closet and dug out a magic marker.
“What you doing, Mommay?” she kept saying while I rapidly scribbled a big graph.
“This is your potty sticker chart,” I said as I taped it to the bathroom door. “Today you will make all of your piddle in the Big Girl Potty and you won’t wear diapers anymore!” At such times one always hopes there is more conviction apparent in one’s voice than one feels at heart. I plopped the BGP (Big Girl Potty–small, pink, and ominous) on the floor, took off her diaper, and resigned myself to a wet week.
But Harriet surprised us all. She took to the BGP like a duckling takes to water. Her very first effort was only a drop in the bucket of her future success. She had several proud rows of Hello Kitty stickers by the end of Plunge Day and not one accident.
How was this accomplished? We have no idea. My left arm is still sore from pinching myself. All I know is she likes to be just like Norah, and she likes the wild party that breaks out amongst the family with each new triumph. She likes choosing a sticker for the chart (I restrained myself this time and did not offer ice cream) and so far hasn’t realized that a completed chart earns her only . . . another chart. (Endless opportunities to piddle, stretching before her.) She’s cleaning out our sticker collection.
Sunday morning I was sitting in the church hallway with Hugh when the sound of the sermon was interrupted by a chorus of high-pitched little girl giggles. A line of six laughing little ladies was being marched into the loo: Norah, a few others, and, at the end of the line, a proud little Harriet.
The rest of the “How To Potty Train Your Toddler” series for new subscribers:
step one: literature wee-view
step two: wee-diculous
step three: wee-verse psychology
step four: wee-wards and wee-inforcement