WARNING: If you’re not a parent, or personal care attendant, or if you’re grossed out by “poops” and “that’s not apple juice”… I strongly advise you to move along at this point.
About a month ago, I came home from work to my mom (Granna) smiling at her computer. She had that look about her that sort of shouts, “I found something awesome, come see!!” She proceeded to tell me how we were going to train my 2 year old to use the toilet in JUST THREE DAYS. For some of her fantastic research, click here and here and here. We followed this video most intentionally. I was enthused to pick up all the supplies and cancelled work for the next day.
When we woke up on Wednesday morning, it was time to party! “Potty party,” that is. With a bright smile on my face and spring in my step I explained that we were going to have so much fun in one room all day long! I walked my 2 and 3 year olds into the streamer decorated and balloon filled dining room. With that, the four of us began the 5-day journey that almost broke me.
“No more diapers, duck!” Said the enthusiastic mother ducky in one of my kids’ favorite books. Duck went on to miss the potty 3 times until finally he got it right and was a “big duck now.” Billy wanted to be a big duck. Bingham, who had experienced many interruptions in his own potty training process, was determined to be a big duck too. They each took a turn on the potty and then pulled on some brand new underwear. I gave them each special snack cups and then they played! After every 5 minutes, the timer on my phone went off with a “Quack!” Billy had to take down his underpants (with help), position himself on the potty chair (with help), and just sit for 10 more minutes (with so much help), unless he made a puddle. To keep him there, we (I) sang songs, read books, watched videos, built towers, and made animal noises. Each time he was successful, everyone stopped what they were doing to do a special potty dance. “Billy went POT-TY, Billy is a BIG BOY, I’m so proud of BIL-LY!” Bingham, who knew how it felt when he needed to drain his bladder, caught on quickly and performed his duties with great ceremony. “You’re such a big boy Bingham! You’re amazing!”
It was super fun for the first one time.
Using the potty in the dining room was the special event of the day, but it also needed to be emptied every time. After each use, the trainee dismantled the potty chair and took the little cup of golden grossness to the flushable toilet. When the deposits didn’t make it all the way to the toilet, we gathered cleaning supplies. We dried the diddle and dabbed up the do-do dots from the floor. (It’s cool though, guys, they only spilled three fourths of the time.)
Before Billy had even one success, he had several failures. Never in his life had he been subjected to so much time without his diaper. He was quite upset when the potty hit his legs and pooled around his toes. I rushed him to the potty chair, but there was nothing left to empty. We grabbed the paper towels and cleaned up his puddle. One new pair of underpants and mom encouragements later, Billy went back to playing. Again and again, Billy made a mess. Again and again he seemed beside himself with frustration, but was met with “it’s ok, you’re learning, I love you, let’s keep trying!”
5 minute intervals turned to 10 minute intervals, then fifteen, then twenty. By the end of the day, he was successfully waiting and then using the potty chair just about every half hour. I was exceedingly proud. He even made a heavy deposit in the duck chair! He was the most proud of this accomplishment. “Mama. Woooook! POOPS!!!” So much dancing ensued.
For dinner we had pizza & ice cream to celebrate the accomplishments.
At bed time, they each got a special “potty trained puppy” stuffed animal and climbed into their beds with pull-ups over the top of their underwear — just as they had done during naps earlier in the day. I turned off the lights, sang our songs, said our goodnights, and left the room. I nearly collapsed into my bed, rather than onto it.
“Mama!? I have to potty!” Said Billy from his bed. “Me too! Me too!” Said Bingham. We rushed to the bathroom. Two boys, two successes. We headed back upstairs. “Goodnight, boys! I love you!”
Finally. Slee… “Mama! POTTY!” … back downstairs. Two boys, one success and one mess. It took several minutes, one sheet set change and too many “but Mama”s before we climbed back into our beds.
I’m not proud of the amount of usage I gave my vocal chords on the 5th round of this nighttime potty escapade.
When we woke up, the boys were thrilled to go play at the potty party. They could not WAIT to go back into that room. Their mother, on the other hand? Let’s just say, I’m thankful for coffee and Jesus.
Running into the room, they kicked the balloons and took turns on the potty. 10 minutes later my phone hollered “Quack, quack!” I looked at Billy and said, “It’s time big boy!” He moved his toy from one hand to the other and said nothing.
“Billy, potty time!”
“Yes, you’re such a big boy, let’s go!”
*QUACK, QUACK! QUACK, QUACK!”
I did what parents do best and bargained, negotiated with my tiny dictator until he sat on the duck. Success! Until 2 minutes later, when another mess appeared under Billy. I went quickly to search his face for frustration… sadness…. embarrassment… there was none of that.
“How’s it going Bingham? Did you spill your apple juice? Oh that’s not… but… did you have an accident?”
“But there’s potty on the floor…”
“I know. I just didn’t want to go to the bathroom.”
“But… but why?”
“Just because Mom.”
I mustered all of my energy and every last drop of composure. I gathered the paper towels into squirming hands. Somehow I got them to (help) clean their messes up from the floor. Then off of the toys. Then insisted on clean underwear. *QUACK!! QUACK!!!!*
Somewhere around 10:00 am, I got the opportunity to escape to work. Granna, on the other hand, was not so fortunate. I kissed and hugged my elated little boys, I whispered, “good luck” to my mom and headed out the door. When I returned at nap time, Granna was super calm. Basically she’s wonder woman. Did you know that?
When Bingham and Billy woke up, we repeated our routine. Granna said that Billy had gotten up to an hour between potty times! I was exceedingly impressed. Until he didn’t do it for me. Nope. More messes. More screeching. More stinky stickies. But somehow, we got through it.
Bedtime went much the same way, except for that after trip number three, I explained to my children what would happen if they did not actually use the potty and were in fact stalling. Minutes later they were snoring.
After the first clothing change from overnight bowel activities, Granna headed to work. I grabbed my coffee and took a seat at the table instead of the floor, feeling pretty good about things. Billy and Bingham were both doing a decent job of keeping their pants dry. They were even keeping the potty off of their toys. Until they weren’t. Until there were so many messes. And two snarky children. And one overly exhausted mother.
Let me tell you something. No one yells at parties. At least not good parties. But this potty stuff? Not a party. I’m pretty sure I popped 35% of the balloons on the morning of day three. With my fingers. To the tune of, “NOoOoOoO!! NOT potty time!!” Yeah, it’s funny now, but then? Oofta.
But they did get it, mostly. There were certainly fewer wet underpants to put into the washer in the evening. No one promised that my boys would be 100% percent potty trained (which is good, because the promiser would have been my absolute least favorite person on the planet).
One month later, there are still mistakes. Billy still has about one accident every day while Bingham has an accident every third day or so. We still clean “poops” off of the bathroom floor (and rug and my foot and the potty chair and…). The bathroom rarely smells of anything but little boys, and I’ve gotten pretty great at getting urine out of carpets.
BUT being on this side is a special kind of accomplishment. I’m exceedingly thankful for Granna whose idea this was and without whom I doubt we would be this far in the process. I’m thankful for the people in my life who let me rant over text and/or did not complain about the stink they must have smelled especially during those three days and the weekend that followed.
Most of all, I am proud of my Bingham and Billy. They are certainly big ducks now. It’s a bitter sweet thing, but it’s a good thing.