I felt very much behind when Small’s contemporaries started toilet training. I tried to ignore the other parents as they bragged about how well their Smalls were doing. I knew that game and was a better player. In a race it doesn’t matter who starts first, only who finishes first.
I watched the trials and tribulations, the difficulties involved, and held back, knowing that Small would have no idea what to do. Learning from the eating trial I knew there was no point trying until Small was ready and he had shown no signs that he understood base bodily functions other than that quiet smile of satisfaction when they were successfully performed.
I waited and waited, watching the others stumbling further and further ahead, until Small finally started to show the signs. What signs? Well, for him it was not being at all happy in a dirty nappy. Of course that was after the event but showed he was starting to be more aware. This was very shortly followed by him disappearing into a corner and going red in the face before filling his nappy. Now this was action before the event which indicated that he knew what was about to happen. This was the time to get the potty out. All I had to do was watch him, eagle eyed, until he made a move for the corner and then swoop in with the potty so the deed could be done in the right place. And buy a potty of course.
And so it was that Small learned very quickly and would soon go and find the potty instead of the corner when the feeling came upon him. Sticking a star on the potty after each successful use helped. Very soon the potty was plastered [with stars – we did clean it]. In fact Small was walking around accident free (virtually) whilst most of his counterparts that had started toilet training months before were still having regular ‘mishaps’. They were still not really ready.
Ok, Small didn’t win the race but he did win the game. It didn’t matter that Small was still in nappies when his friends seemed to have left them behind. Small got there when he was ready and avoided all the accidents and the stress of failing (for both of us) along the way.
Incidentally, when it came to the potty I rid myself of it as soon as possible. I bought one of those inset seats designed to prevent Small disappearing down the U bend and moved him onto the toilet proper; that was what it was there for after all.
Public toilets and Smalls were interesting. Small 3 was [is] quite vocal and forthright. He would think nothing of declaring very loudly from the booth that he was, “Doing a massive poo now,” or shouting, “I’m weeing and pooing at the same time now,” before informing me that, “You can wipe my bum now”. Note the imperative ‘now’ used in each declaration: Smalls live in the present, unlike adults who tend to dwell in the past, when they are not dreaming and hoping for the future.
As a final point, the common rule that it is polite to leave the toilet seat down and the lid closed is NOT a good one if all your Smalls are boys. In our house the rule is to leave the toilet seat up, otherwise boys wee all over it. No matter how many times they are told they still think they are accurate and will miss the seat. They are not accurate and often miss the toilet completely. Leaving the seat up is a good rule, it saves sitting in a puddle.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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