Potty In The U.S.A.

August 9, 2017

Sometimes it’s hard to draw the line of over sharing. My kids aren’t old enough to run things by and I constantly struggle with the desire to help other moms without greatly embarrassing my babies. Potty training seems like one of those topics that could go either way. And yet, my story is atypical so I feel there is value in it being shared. 

We had always planned on potty training Levi at age 3. We took into account his personality, readiness and of course, 236 different articles and studies (give or take a few hundred more…). But as the time neared, we were unexpectedly moving; a new home, new school, and new friends made us rethink our plan and we put everything on hold. By the time we revisited the idea, he had turned 3.5 and he knew too much. He knew allll about potty training and after watching his friends pee in the potty for a few months, the idea didn’t exactly excite him. So while he was physically and mentally ready for potty training, he had his own ideas on how he was going to do it and they were unconventional to say the least.

You see he had this thing against the toilet, so from day one he wanted to only pee outside. Yes, there I said it, outside. And as much as I hate to admit it, for the first two days I actually let him do it. See we are a California family and spend most of our time in the backyard. It seemed logical to him (he had seen his friends do it) and honestly I was just excited that he was actually wearing underwear, pulling them down and aiming. 

Did I mention sitting on the potty was not an option for this headstrong 3.5 year old, he was adamant about standing. We did the whole naked thing and then moved onto underwear. Miraculously, he wasn’t having any accidents but he would fight me tooth and nail over going in the potty. The baby bjorn, frog urinal, and potty cushion ladder didn’t sway him in the least. We tried everything – toilet toys (toys that he was only allowed to play with on the toilet), promises of his favorite foods, new garbage trucks you name it! We begged, we pleaded, we threatened. None of it worked.

By day 4 (wasn’t this supposed to be a 3 day thing?!) we compromised by allowing him to go in a lined garbage can next to the potty. Some of you may see this as disgusting but I chose to see it as progress. I never in my wildest dreams thought that this would be my story. I’m a pretty strict mom and don’t generally let my kids get away with stuff. But in my heart and head, I knew this was different. This was his body, his pee pee (as gross as that sounds…it does belong to him) and I knew that this could quickly turn into a power struggle. Although mostly every professional that I spoke with told me that I was making a big mistake, I pushed on. Luckily, my girlfriends were very supportive, they didn’t judge and told me that trusting my mom gut was important. They helped with ideas, such as placing the garbage inside the toilet, that eventually led to success! 

When he was ready and on his own terms, Levi dominated that potty. It may have taken longer than I had wanted but that’s the thing, he’s slowly becoming his own person and I have to respect that (to some degree). Not everything will always go the way I want it and that’s ok! Watching him do it 100% on his own and then moving the stool and washing his hands without my reminder was so gratifying I could have cried. He’s still holding it in through school (another con to potty training at 3.5 their bladders are super strong) but he goes as soon as we get home without so much as a prompt. 

For all of those moms looking to follow the perfect method sometimes the only thing to do is to follow your heart and your child’s lead. They may show you a thing or two and leave you pleasantly surprised…or leave you a surprise (or two).

**Update: We have peeing at school! His entire classroom goes to a large bathroom together and all of the kids go in front of one another, which I thought would be great for modeling. However, after many trials and countless discussions, we learned that he did not like going in front of others, my modest little man. We found him a separate private stall and he’s as happy as a pig in poop (I couldn’t help myself)! I’m aware that a lot of moms would choose to push through and not be as accommodating. While I appreciate the struggle, I don’t feel comfortable ignoring his fears and although I’m unwavering about many things, this simply isn’t one of them. 

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