Potty Training for Dummies

As with most of our parenting endeavors, my husband and I decided to start toilet training our 2-and-a-half year old without consulting any resources or establishing a plan, opting instead to rely on our infallible instincts (ha, ha) and whatever wisdom we may have osmosized via our better-educated parent friends. My one strategic move was the purchase of a Lightning McQueen-adorned child’s toilet, partly to ease our toddler’s transition from Lightning McQueen-adorned diapers, and partly because it just went so damn well with the other eight thousand Lightning McQueen-branded items in our house. (I once said I would never buy character merchandise for my child. I didn’t have one then.)

With four weeks of bumbling toilet training under our belts, I’m happy to report that our toddler has pretty much got the urination part down, both in his potty and on a training seat on the actual toilet. Ka-chow! We developed a quite effective rewards system called “peepee bonbon” (bonbon = candy), which entails doing a sort of conga-jig down the hallway to the bathroom while chanting peepee, peepee, bon-bon! peepee, peepee-bon!, and once he’s managed to pee in the toilet, and give a high-five and fist-bump, and wipe himself, and pull up his pants, and flush (bye bye, peepee!), and wash his hands, he is awarded with a piece of candy, the selection of which usually adds another 3 minutes onto this excruciatingly long routine. Toddlers having rather small bladders, this series of events repeats itself roughly every 40 minutes. But all things considered, peepee training has been a success.

Poop-training is a whole other story.

If the quantity of Disney-licensed crap in our house is truly astounding, the amount of actual crap happening in the Lightning McQueen shitter has been dismal. My son seems to harbor a primal fear of pooping on the toilet, and the prospect of a piece of candy is laughably inadequate. To complete the full arc of consumer enslavement, we actually let our son watch a Disney movie if he poops in the toilet! Alas, his attachment to grunty, painful-seeming stand-up pooping is too fierce to be overcome by (what we considered) this very attractive proposition. I NO WATCH A MOVIEEE!!!! he screeches, as soon as I catch him in his standing-poop pose and get that zealous, lion-tamer glint in my eye.

My son seems to harbor a primal fear of pooping on the toilet, and the prospect of a piece of candy is laughably inadequate.

In French, incidentally, you indicate that a child is toilet trained by calling him or her propre - which means, literally, “clean.” The implication seems to be that prior to reaching this milestone, kids are roughly on par with wild animals, having yet to enter a higher realm of bodily and spiritual cleanliness.

Our child, unfortunately, is not yet “clean,” but thanks to his recent success as a toilet-pisser, has decided that he is above wearing diapers now. And so I sometimes find myself hosing diarrhea off the favorite pair of (guess what kind??) teeny undies, or wondering what degree of gross it is (moderately? unforgivably?) to mix our regular laundry in with underwear streaked with actual human feces.

Please send help. Preferably in the form of a poop-themed Pixar movie.


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