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Why I Gave Up Potty Training My Son After One Day

Just because you luxuriated in your potty training genius with one kid doesn't mean the next kid will be an equal boost to your ego.
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Apparently, the universe has a way of b*tch-slapping you in the face for making multiple public announcements about your first child potty training in one day. Looking back, I probably deserved it, seeing as my announcements were less public service and more poorly-veiled commentary on my own parenting superiority.

For the last year and a half, I've been luxuriating in the knowledge that my second child would be a breeze as well, and looking forward to again announcing my stellar potty whispering skills. Maybe I could announce his toilet mastery on Facebook with a photo of me wearing a T-shirt with an arrow pointing toward the boy saying, "Guess whose mother taught them to pee in the potty today?" Perhaps I'd be subtle and send out "How Dry I Am" save-the-date cards to those in my inner circle. So much to do, so little time.


About a month before I was planning to commence potty training with my son, Santa left a pack of big boy undies in the his stocking. After the gift opening frenzy died down, I was so excited to see his little Thomas The Train-clad bum that I began to put a pair on him, only to be met with unexpected mass toddler hysteria.

"I don't want to wear those!"

"I don't like big boy underwears!"


No big deal. So, I'd have to make some adjustments. Maybe it would take him three days instead of one. Part of my plan was waiting until the kids were over 3 years old. This way, they were old enough to understand the logistics of potty-ing -- and it had paid off with his sister. I'd sit him down Mom-to-man and we'd discuss the importance of using the potty and the how-to's. He'd be happily sporting a Thomas tush in no time.

Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as I had planned. This was how it played out:

8 a.m. - Underwear phobia rears its head again.

8:30 a.m. - I convinced boy to wear underwear without screaming (score one me!). This is followed by a requested change of undie design every 8-13 minutes (score one, "Project Runway").

9 a.m. - Mom notices a leak and rushes boy to potty, only to learn that wet feet and sitting on the potty are a horrifying experience for boy. Tears, cries of "Get me off of here!" and primal screams are noted. Mom makes mental note to ask dad about how to point a small nub downward without permanent damage.

10 a.m. -1 p.m. - Rinse and repeat hysteria about going potty five or so times. Screaming and crying urgency escalates with each instance. Absence of clockwork morning poo is also noted. Mom has ice cream for lunch.

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. - Nap time approaches with no fewer than 10 trips to the potty under the 3-year-old's ominous warning that "The poop is coming out!" Each visit ends in crying and convicted vows of hatred for the bathroom with no sign of anything "coming out" except my short temper.

4 p.m. - 5 p.m. - After nap, Mommy consents to playing an umpteenth round of Zingo! with him, only to hear the boy crying and telling me "It hurts," but unwilling to go potty in any receptacle. Full-blown meltdown ensues with each suggested potty trip. The clockwork poo has still not made an appearance, and his cries of pain are increasing in frequency to every few minutes.

5 p.m. - Mom throws in the towel, slaps a diaper on him and calls it a day. This is not important enough to send him into therapy over. The clockwork poop finally arrives around 7 p.m. in his size 5 diaper.

We'll try again in a month. I was pushing my agenda and he just wasn't ready. The moral of this story is that every kid is different. Just because you luxuriated in your potty training genius with one kid doesn't mean the next kid will be an equal boost to your ego. As much as you'd like to take credit for the success, it has a lot to do with the kid and very little to do with your training delivery methods. This also means if you have a potty-resistant kid like mine, you can use phrases like "he just wasn't ready yet" to comfort yourself.

Don't throw out the self-promoting T-shirts and save the date cards just yet, though. If you have a third, fourth or fifth pro-potty kid, you may once again need to publicly proclaim parenting brilliance, and accept the accolades that are rightfully yours.

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