Let me be the one to say this out loud. Listen carefully. THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET!
Seriously. The same could probably be said for just about every other parenting question under the sun. You can read every book, try out every "best practice", or spend hours Googling the answer, but the truth is.....there is no easy answer. Or right answer. Or magic cure.
That's the joy of parenting. Ha.
I hesitate to say this out loud, but I believe that potty training days are coming to an end in our house. Our soon-to-be 3-year old has recently embraced the potty as his friend and we are going on 11 days accident-free. Truly, this is the only angle from which a mom can see the joy part of potty training. Because when you're in the trenches, it's no picnic.
For those far removed from the potty training days (or those that need to commiserate) let me tell you what potty training is all about. It's about sticker charts and overzealous high-fiving in the bathroom. It's about bribing your kids with Princess underwear, super hero pull-ups, potty treats and new toys. It's emergency stops on the side of the road, scooping up messy misfires off the bathroom floor, wet pants in the grocery store (usually when you left the diaper bag at home), and daily negotiations about when/where/how to use the potty so as to avoid accidents. It's embracing the hilarity in a busy public restroom when you sit down to do your business and your son says to you, "Mommy, push your penis down."
Go ahead. Laugh out loud. I'll wait.
It is the measuring stick we use to rate all mothers of toddlers...."Is he potty trained yet?"
When my daughter waited until she was WELL beyond three (three years, six months to be exact) to embrace the potty, that question haunted me. Because no, she wasn't potty trained. No, I wasn't spending every moment Googling the miracle cure. No, I didn't buy her a princess potty to speed up the process. No, I didn't want anyone's advice on how to make her go potty. We just sort of let her be.
Lo and behold, when she decided she was ready for the potty, she did it and never looked back. She had maybe two accidents and then she was done. Her time. Her decision. Her success.
My son, now moments away from his third birthday, doesn't have the luxury of taking his time because he has moved up to the "big boy" preschool class where they don't cater to the semi-potty-trained. He's playing in the big leagues now and it hasn't come without a fair amount of trial and error. We have successfully worked through his George Costanza stage where he would insist on completely disrobing to use the potty. His backwards habit has turned around.
He's even learned to pee standing up, thanks to the short potties at preschool made just his size. This did create a bit of a challenge when he insisted on standing at normal sized toilets at home or in public restrooms. We've worked through it. I'll spare you the details.
We had a big potty training victory last weekend when we took a short road trip to see Disney on Ice in Sacramento. His little puppy bladder handled the trip like a champ. No accidents in the car, he let me know exactly when he had to go during the show, and we never needed the spare clothes I brought along "just in case." This success story, along with his nearly-full sticker chart on the refrigerator make me cautiously optimistic about the future of my diaper budget.
For so many reasons, we are thrilled to see the light at the end of our potty training tunnel....less laundry, no stinky diaper pails, not having to personally witness every single waste product the child produces. Now we will have time for other important parenting tasks.
Next on the agenda, a quick lesson in anatomy.