Potty training: how hard can it be?

Potty training: how hard can it be? A lot harder than you’d think.

My daughter wants a kitten, but I think of the toilet training and my poor soft sofa. I’m not sure which one will be worse. You’d think training a kitty is easy after potty training your child, but I did the latter by accident, and I’m not sure effects can be reproduced.

The potty issue starts early as you wonder when it’s time to get rid of nappies. Motherhood has been good to me, since most things happened by fluke. For example, I didn’t know when to stop breastfeeding, but my baby decided for herself by loosing interest. At 5 months, she would only use it as a midnight snack. She’d be lying next to me, stir in her sleep, whimper a little, and look for my breasts. During the day, shed turn away if I offered, so I’m guessing it was just for nightmares. As soon as she stopped breastfeeding, I could mover her to her own bed, since she now slept through the night, and I could too.

Next I wondered when was the right time to stop diapers. We had cloth nappies at daytime and Pampers for night time. We couldn’t use Pampers all the time because they were expensive. We usually put on a liner, a nappy, and plastic pants. At some point I got these cute pants that were plastic on the outside and had towelling on the inside. They had snap-on clips, and were small enough to pass for underwear. One day, when she was about a year old, I ran out clean nappies, so I dressed her ina t-shirt and snap underwear while I did laundry. She looked so comfortable and was running around a lot more without the weight of a nappy, so I got five more snap-on pants and stopped using nappies completely. She still wore Pampers at night because they helped her – and me – sleep easier.

A while later, we had no Pampers for the night, and her plastic pants had ripped during the day, so we dressed her in pyjamas, stacked nappies inside her cot, and lay her down to sleep. The idea proved successful, and her tush could now be aired in her sleep.

Later that year, I was toying with toilet training. At 19 months, I could tell when she had soiled herself, because she’d stop what she was doing, stare into space for a few moments, then resume her previous task. A smell would soon follow. Since I was home all the time, I watched her more carefully for lapses of concentration, and as soon as I noticed her daydreaming, I would rush her to the toilet.

Her dad decided it was time to potty train, so we started dressing her in t-shirts and cotton panties, as she couldn’t get the snap-ons off herself. Her dad explained to her than when she wanted to susu or poopoo, she should run t the toilet. She wasn’t quite talking yet, but she understood conversation, and we’d been around her long enough to decipher her baby talk. A neighbour found me ‘talking’ to her once and asked, ‘You can actually tell what she’s saying?’ I was surprised by the question, because my baby seemed perfectly coherent to me.

Anyway, my baby learnt the toilet training lesson, but it always seemed to catch her by surprise. She’d feel extremely pressed and start to run to the toilet, but she wouldn’t quite make it, and she’d feel sad and ashamed for soiling the floor. I hated seeing that sad look on her face, and I didn’t know how to help. Once or twice she made it in time, and she glowed when we praised her for being a big girl. But most days, I walked around with a pooper scooper and a piss mop. Luckily, she was eating healthy, so it didn’t smell too bad.

I mostly raised my girl off a baby book. I had a book by Dr Spock, but my go-to guide was an illustrated one by someone named Martha. I can’t remember her other name. So I was looking up something in the book when my baby girl sat next to me and said she wanted to see pictures. As we flipped the pages, we found one that had a naked little girl sitting on a toilet. My baby stared at the picture for a while, then stared at me, then stared back at the picture. Then she jumped off the sofa and ran off. I followed her to see where she was going. She went to the toilet. That was the last time she soiled the floor.

Using toilet paper was easier. She’d say when she needed to use the toilet, and we’d help her wipe herself. After a week, she wanted to do it on her own, so I showed her how, and I’d check to make sure she’d done it properly. Within a month, she didn’t need to say it out loud when nature called.

I don’t know what light went off in her little head, or how seeing a blonde girl on a toilet got her instantly potty trained, but I’m glad I bought that book. Meanwhile, I don’t think showing lolcats to a kitten will help it use the litter box, so I’ll just becontent with my toilet-ready daughter.

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