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Sunday, February 5, 2023

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Practice Makes Perfect?

Last month I regaled (repulsed?) you, dear reader, with the saga of my daughter’s toilet training. I promised you a sequel in this column: the tale of potty training #2, er, that sounds bad. I mean potty training my son, Joe.

When it came time to embark upon this task, I was determined not to repeat my earlier mistake. That is, I wasn’t going to be laissez faire — waiting around for the child to “be ready” or “self-train.” That approach landed me a daughter who still wanted to poop in a pull-up until almost her third birthday. No sir, I was going to be proactive with Joe!

Lucky for me, the lad was a late walker — fairly immobile until he was 16 months old — so I took advantage of his preference for the seated position by putting him on the toilet (with his cute little potty seat insert inside) after meals and leaving him there until he “produced.”

There he would perch with a few toys and a couple of board books while I hovered, checking frequently and praising him lavishly when the mission was completed. “Piece of cake!” I mentally congratulated myself on more than one occasion. “Who says boys are harder to potty train than girls? This is easy! We’re almost there!” Unlike with Laura, I was not panicking about this child being banned from preschool, the only 3-year-old with a bulky pull-up under his shorts, watching all the other kids trot off to the halls of learning. No, my boy was doing great, thanks to me, Veteran Potty Trainer Extraordinaire!

Except. There was one problem. Remember that cunning toilet insert referenced above? The one that Joe started using at about 14 months, when his petite rear was too tiny for the regular toilet seat? Well, as he grew, the fact that he was no longer in danger of falling into the watery depths did not seem to compute. He had to have that seat! Had. To. Have. It. This meant that I had to carry it—everywhere. It was very hard, I tell you, to look or feel stylish with a Diego-themed potty seat sticking out of my bag.

Eventually, I obtained the Mercedes of toilet inserts: one that folded. This item was a bit easier to conceal, but still I felt ridiculous toting it around. Joe was four, a big boy in every sense of the word, and he quickly grew too heavy for the folding seat. It was in danger of collapsing under him at every use. I argued, bargained and pleaded, all to no avail. Joe was a big boy, yes, but this big boy needed his potty insert.

Until one day he didn’t.

I don’t remember a dramatic “Eureka!” moment. In my memory, one day he had to have the darn thing, the next day he didn’t. Maybe it was one close call too many with the seat folding under him. Maybe he just decided it was time. Whatever the case I was happy to hang up my hat as Potty Trainer Not-So-Extraordinaire and move onto the next challenge, which we are still working on: picking up his toys. Four years later, this particular battle makes potty training look like a breeze!

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