Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Potty Chronicles

So we're in the midst of potty training Ally, our 27 month old daughter. I know, I know...."training" isn't the politically correct term in favor now and I should refer to it as "potty learning" instead. Whatever you prefer to call it, my goal is to go from diapers to using the potty without the use of pull-ups. I don't see the need for pull-ups, which are only a more sophisticated form of diapers, when all I really want her to do is just start using the toilet. I know we'll have plenty of accidents before she's four years old, but it's time to get the potty show on the road.

Ally is in a great daycare center where the staff spends a lot of time working with the two year olds on using the potty. She's in diapers there, but we change her into big girl panties (the BGP) when she comes home in the evening. Ally is very excited about wearing her BGP with Disney's Ariel on them. She is less excited about using the potty, however.

This puzzles us, as previously Ally was all about sitting on her potty chair or even on the child's potty seat that fits on our toilet. We'd frequently ask her if she'd want to sit on her potty chair like a big girl and often she'd oblige happily but without any of the productivity for which we hoped. Then for about a month Ally would want to get out of her evening bath to sit on the potty. We'd oblige, lifting her out of the bubbles, and she'd hop on the potty chair for all of about six nanoseconds before wanting to get back in her bath. Five minutes later she'd request to sit on her potty chair again. We'd let her, hoping that maybe she was about to get the hang of it, but after alighting on her chair for a mere second she'd want to be back in the bath. After several weeks of this nightly ritual it got pretty old so we'd put her on the chair before and after her bath, but not take her out of her bath just to sit on the chair. I'm not sure who was training whom at this point.

I know Ally is ready for potty training. Ally stays dry for several hours and she will tell us when she needs a diaper, sometimes running back to the changing table for one. She's pretty aware of her bodily functions and will tell us when she's pooped, or if it's just gas. Yes, that's right, my two year old will announce with great confidence that she has gas. Makes for some great dinner conversations, but then again, we're pretty much stuck in the poop, pee, potty, and BGP category for any conversation these days. But within the past week, the potty chair has suddenly become a source of tension. She no longer wants to sit on the potty and will immediately begin to wail if we even suggest it to her. You can imagine the commotion this causes each night when we're regularly asking if she needs to pee so we can avoid an accident in the BGP.

Last night, while trying to convince Ally that there's nothing to fear about using the potty, I reminded her that everyone poops and pees, and that all her friends and family were doing this. Telling her that Mommy and Daddy use the toilet, and that some of her friends were already using the toilet, didn't really seem to have much impact on her. Eventually I invoked the name of "the authority" to convince her that using the potty was perfectly normal. Yep, I told Ally that Papaw poops in the potty at his house. I swear her eyes grew big as she mulled over this bit of information. Then she asked if Granny peed in the potty. "Oh, yes," I nodded my head gravely. "Both Papaw and Granny poop and pee in the toilet." While Ally seemed a little calmer about the potty chair afterwards, she still had no intention of using it last night.

I asked Ally's teacher this morning if Ally ever seemed afraid of using the potty at daycare. She laughed and said no, that Ally would eagerly sit on the potty and would even ask to use the potty. Ally still hasn't actually produced anything on the potty there, but she certainly wasn't afraid of it or avoided it.

Clearly we only have a potty issue at home, and it's probably one we created unknowingly. I don't want to get into a power struggle with Ally over the use of the potty chair, but there's a fine line between being a firm parent and being a control freak. And that line is about as indistinct as the one between being a lax parent and one being played by a two year old.

Even so, we are now debating trying to bribe Ally with a favorite treat (miniature marshmallows, to be exact) just to sit on the potty for a couple of minutes this evening so she can see that there's nothing to fear about the potty. We should know better than to try this. When Ally was only an infant and suffering from what seemed like an endless bout of stomach flu, Steve once blurted out in a fit of exhaustion that he'd give her a pony if she'd only stop throwing up. And she didn't throw up again. I think by now Steve owes Ally a small herd of ponies as he's made this offer to her multiple times for various reasons over the first 18 months of her life. Thankfully he stopped doing this before Ally was really aware of what he was offering her, but I should remind him not to say anything about a pony in connection to the potty training.

We'll probably try the marshmallows tonight, along with a glass of red wine for us. Ally will probably sit on the potty chair for a few minutes just to get her treat, and after some wine we won't really mind that she isn't interested in doing this on her own right now. And that's okay, Rome wasn't built in a day. There'll also be a bottle of carpet stain remover nearby for the inevitable accident in the BGP later on since she didn't pee in the potty, but potty re-acceptance is the first battle. We can tackle actually using the potty later on.

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