Advanced Toilet Training

Photo by Mary Hodder

Photo by Mary Hodder

I didn’t realize that the Birthday Girl (almost three) had managed to sneak a rock into the bathroom until it was already in the toilet bowl. I looked down through the cloud of urine and partially dissolved toilet paper to where it squatted sharply against the porcelain, and my options spun quickly through my brain. Just flush it down? Put the girl down for her nap, then come and fish it out, ideally with tongs?

“Rocks don’t belong in the toilet,” I told my daughter, as I matter-of-factly pushed up her sleeve. “You may reach down and get it out,” I continued, in a friendly voice that nonetheless conveyed no possibility of negotiation.

It’s not often that you get invited to stick your hand in the toilet, at any age. She hesitated a second, no doubt torn between curiosity and disgust, then shuddered once her hand was submerged. Rock safely retrieved and discarded, neither one of us said another word about it as went on to wash our hands, very thoroughly. I suspect that is the first and last foreign object that will be visiting our toilet bowl. The birthday girl trotted off to her nap with a bit more than the usual amount of cooperation, and I reveled in the rare experience of that most satisfying parental experience: an appropriate consequence that does my job for me.

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6 thoughts on “Advanced Toilet Training

  1. Ahh, a sympathetic chuckle escapes my lips reading this one. Wee one, proud to be a big boy and potty trained, has been role playing with his non-washable stuffed buddies with great success…until those dreaded words “Don’t drop your buddy in the toilet” are spoken by the male counterpart. Hmm, what is my appropriate consequence here for the now partner who caused the crime?!? Now we have a “pretend” potty station in our usual go to place, with my 2 1/2 year old psyching me out everytime he takes another one of his buddies to the bathroom yelling pee or poop (cue words for him!). All I can say is, potty training is always heart wrentching entertainment. Bring it.

    • This is my second go-round with potty training, and I find it’s just as much about the parents as it is about the kids. I made plenty of mistakes first time around, and watched my partner make them too. My appropriate consequence is administered nightly with a wet bed! But oh well. I’m feeling very relaxed about it all. I remind myself of my secret to happy potty training: I tell my child over and over where pee and poop belong, but for the duration it takes her to really figure out how to make that happen (and give a sh*t), I don’t really care where it ends up. Pee? Wipe it up. Poop? Scoop.

    • And it can really be such a fine line between the two; it’s so easy to slip into punishment mode. If a punitive tone of voice or aspect or words accompany the natural consequence, it transforms the experience by inserting the parent-child power dynamic where it needn’t be. Then the child gets focused on the power struggle instead of action and consequence.

      I was proud of myself for keeping it neutral this time: Uh-oh, there’s a rock in the toilet. You’d better get it out. Here, let me help you with that sleeve. If my daughter had refused, the natural consequence would have evolved into: The last time you went to the bathroom, a rock ended up in the toilet. Today, you may leave all those things you’re carrying with you outside the bathroom door. I don’t want anything to end up in the toilet again.

      I have to celebrate (and record!) those rare moments when I get it right!

  2. O.K., I say to myself. “Who ya gonna call?” the next time some foreign object needs removing from the toilet bowl. I see a high paying niche job in the future for this almost three year old! Loved this slice of life and the successful handling. Keep us posted!

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