I deluded myself into thinking potty training Phoebe would be easy.  Maybe because, in general, she’s pretty easy.

Or maybe, right now, amidst the chaos that is our life, I just need SOMETHING to be easy.  Anything.  Which of course ensures that nothing will be.

I started by casually introducing Phoebe to the potty seat.  She enjoyed wearing it as a hat, using it as Frisbee, and commanding the dog to poop in it.  But PHOEBE pooping in it?  “No Tanks.”

On Monday morning, as she watched TV and shoved handfuls of granola into her mouth, I asked nonchalantaly: “Hey Pheebs…want to go try out the potty?”

“Uhh, no tanks.”  Her eyes stay glued to the television.

“C’mon, let’s just give it a try.”

(chew chew swallow) “No tanks.”

“But don’t you want to go on the potty like a big girl?  Don’t you want to get rid of those stinky diapers?

“No tanks. Hey Ma?  I watchin’ my show.”

Hmm.  This was a rocky start.

You may ask, “Why now?” Potty training immediately following a big transition is hardly a recipe for success.  However, I am hung up on the following:

  1. Phoebe starts preschool next week.
  2. The school calls you to come and change her if she poops.

Selfishly, I was hoping get a job teaching yoga while Phoebe was in school, and The Booty Call kind of throws a wrench in my plan.  So, for better or worse, we were going for it.

Because my mind Ctrl-Alt-Deletes the most unpleasant experiences from motherhood, I can’t remember how I potty trained Emma. However, there are many people out there who believe they have cracked the pee-poo code:

-Use Pull-ups.

-Don’t use Pull-ups.

-Introduce the potty gradually.

-Never leave the bathroom.

-Use candy.

-Don’t use candy.

-Let them take ANYTHING they want to the potty -books, video games, a guitar (yes, a GUITAR).

-Be a tyrannical nag and ask them every 2 minutes: “Do you need to go pee? How about now?”

-Don’t say anything.

Bribery seems to be a somewhat universal method.  Problem is, Phoebe is somewhat monk-like in the desire department.  She’s a tough kid to entice.  She could care less about candy or stickers.  But the opportunity to use the IPad…

Now that peaked her interest.

The terms of The Bribe were discussed, and she reluctantly sat on the potty. No dice. Two minutes after getting off, she peed her pants.  A bit later, we tried again. On the way to the potty, she peed her pants.  I could feel her frustration building.  She whimpered: “I tired of da potty.  I just wanna be wit you.”

My poker face crumbled. I mean, c’mon. Nobody ever just wants to be wit me.

We needed a break, and it was a beautiful day for a beach walk.  The “experts” say never leave the potty….so, technically, we didn’t.

Even though we had the beach all to ourselves, the potty never left the stroller.  I guess I am just not that hard core, but I wasn’t about to interrupt this:

As we prepared to leave, Phoebe said,  “Mommy will you carry me?”

“Carry you?! You can walk like a big girl!”

She started weeping a little. “But my widdle wegs are TIRED”.

So I picked her up, a damp, sandy sack of potatoes, and she nuzzled her face in my neck: “Aww, Mom. You just ‘da best widdle wady.”  Not sure if her clothes were soaked in ocean water or urine, and to be honest, I really didn’t care.

With her sandy feet wrapped around my waist, the thought suddenly occurred to me: Maybe she’s just not ready.  Maybe it’s really that simple.

But as I washed her off in the tub, the potty seat sat in judgment in the corner.  Maybe one last try….

“Hey Phoebe, want to try the potty?”

“And den I get ‘da IPad?”

“Yup, if you go in the potty.”

“Aww fine, I try again.”

She sat down, and then suddenly, her eyes got huge.  “MOM! I DOIN’ IT!  DA PEE IS COMIN’ OUT!  IT WIKE A WATERFALL!!!! I DOIN’ IT!”

I can’t explain why, but it was one of the happiest moments of my life.  PURE. JOY.  We bobbed up and down and clapped as Phoebe yelled, “I DID IT, I DID IT!!”

“Ok, let’s wipe and wash!”

“Uhh, I tink I wanna stay.”

“Do you think you might need to poop?”

“Uhh, yeah.”

“Ok, call me when you’re done.”

“No! You stay.”

So I stayed.  We sat….and sat….and sat….

“Can I have a samwich?”

“Sure, lets take a break.”

“No, I wanna samwich RIGHT HERE. On ‘da potty.”

 Let them take ANYTHING to the potty, the one article said…even a guitar.

“How about I bring you your guitar?”

“What you talkin’ about WADY?  I want a SAM-WICH.”

The fear of losing the magic of the victory trumped my fear of her getting some bacterial foot-in-mouth ailment.

After she polished off the sandwich, she decided it was time to collect on her winnings:  “Ok you bring me ‘da IPad now?”

“In here? Maybe you just don’t need to poop right now Pheebs.”

“Da poop is like a train.  It’s comin’ but just not yet.”  The kid can speak in similes but can’t poop in the toilet. WTF?  I brought her the IPad, but 20 minutes later the train had yet to enter the station.

“Mom, my neck hurts.  Can we put on a diaper now?”

“A diaper?? WHY?  You peed on the potty!  Why do you need a diaper?”

She sighed: “Just….cause.  I wike my diapers.  Dat’s ok wit you?”

She’s just not ready.  It really IS that simple.

They say potty training is all about control.  Maybe this is Phoebe’s way of saying: “You know what people?  In the last month you’ve taken away my house, my crib, and my own room. BUT NO ONE IS GONNA RESCIND MY RIGHT TO TAKE A MASSIVE SHIT IN MY PANTS WHILE EATING MOM’S EXPENSIVE RAW GRANOLA AND WATCHING SESEME STREET.  OK???”

Yeah.  Dat’s ok wit me.


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