ABCs of Parenting: “W” is for wee.

Yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post got me musing about our potty training days. To tell the truth, I don’t have a lot of memories about that era of our parenting lives – except that it seemed to last forever. I think surely for most parents it’s a time in their lives they’d just as soon forget. Except for those mutant parents who enjoy touching human excrement. Are there any of those? I don’t think so.

Toy storage seems a much better use for a potty chair.

Toy storage seems a good use for a potty chair.

With our oldest, we had the potty chair. We had the books. We tried the stickers and the chart. All of these turned out to be more trouble than help. She was a bright kid, and with no siblings yet she had our undivided attention. So it happened eventually, and we learned a few things along the way.

With the second, we ditched the prescribed tools. No more little chair, no bribes, no books, no strategies. We just went with it, plopped her on the big toilet when it seemed appropriate, and again it happened eventually.

And then came the boy, the third child. He was at a disadvantage in the potty training thing to start with because a) he had two siblings with whom to compete for time and attention, b) he’s a boy, and c) this child never did anything he didn’t want to do AND made up his own rules every step of the way.

First he insisted he needed underwear “like Papa’s.” Meaning with the little pee flap in the front for easy access. Meaning something they don’t make for tiny boys.

The Boy figured out his own way around this problem with a unique solution: He shoved both legs through one leg hole of his little training pants, leaving the second leg hole in front, in just the right place for that easy access. And he wore his undies like that every time.

You would think that with this level of ingenuity and control, he would have had incentive to achieve success pretty quickly. Not so much. For months he was much too busy with whatever fascinating mischief he concocted minute by minute to bother running to the bathroom and taking advantage of his lovely self-invented pee flap.

And so by the time we were past the “Pee emergency!” alerts and all three kids were confirmed toilet users, we’d learned a few things:

  • There is no one-size-fits all way to potty train a child.
  • The old saying is true: You can start training early, but that will just mean it will take longer.
  • Have you ever met a fully functioning adult who didn’t know how to use a toilet? Me, neither. So quit freaking out and just let it happen when it happens.

…And this little piggy cried, “WEE, WEE, WEE” all the way home.


Photo credit: robotmachine via photopin


12 thoughts on “ABCs of Parenting: “W” is for wee.

  1. My second one keeps taking off her diaper. Makes me think we need to start working on getting her to pee on the potty. I’m dreading it. I don’t mind if she goes to kindergarten in diapers. 🙂

    However with other moms in my group, potty training seems like a race. Enjoy the race, ladies, because I’ll let it happen when we’re both good and ready.


  2. Hahaha, you have one smart little guy figuring out his own flap!! I died!! Also, great words of advise momma!! 🙂 I will need to remember these when I start with #2!


  3. Husband thinks Noodles needs to potty train this summer. I, on the other hand (who will be the one dealing with the puddles and poos and increased washing) think he’s not, for all the reasons you said. Can’t wait to see what he makes of underwear though.


    • Yeah, the underwear thing is pretty interesting. If I had it to do over again I would consider waiting until each kid brought it up themselves instead of my just deciding “okay, this seems like a good time.”


  4. Very funny! I loved the photo. When I was contemplating “training” our first to use the potty, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton had a show on television. Or he was a segment on a show I watched? Anyway, his words stuck with me. He said that children will learn to use the potty, naturally. He said not to make a big deal about it. Give them their special little chair and let it sit around. Discuss it, but again, don’t make a big deal of it.

    One thing he said really attached itself to my brain. If a parent has to constantly take a child to the potty to see if they have to go, aka training, is it the child who is being trained, or is the adult being trained to remember?

    So, in a manner uncharacteristic for me, I did just that. I never pressured them, and I didn’t constantly ask them if they had to go to the potty. While I had a fear that our youngest would go to kindergarten wearing pull-ups, He eventually learned the proper place to wee. However, that kid must have one of the smallest bladders, and waits until the very last moment. We knew every spot from our house to the main business area that had a restroom. Many stops were made to the library without checking out books.

    You know what? I changed three beds due to wetting. Puke doesn’t count. When they learned that it was their time to control their bodily functions until they reached the potty, they did it all in one fell swoop. Even though we would use pull-ups at night, they woke up dry.

    Yes, I used a non-high-strung way to potty train, and it actually worked without frustrations for all of us involved. I have yet to meet another mother who used the same approach.


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