Potty training by the book

February 25, 1994|By Kevin Cowherd

Even though I recommend that you not stop over to see it, this is a very exciting time in my house as we go through the potty training of our 2-year-old.

Unfortunately, the 2-year-old himself does not seem terribly excited about the whole business and has pretty much decided not to participate.

In fact, he seems content to remain in diapers until he's, oh, 17 or so, which is why I suggest that you not visit us for a while. A teen-ager wandering around the house in a Nirvana T-shirt and Pampers -- I don't think anyone wants to see that.

The other day I said to him: "Don't you want to go to the bathroom like a big guy?"

I was changing his diaper at the time -- he had just, um, done something, if you catch my drift, and I was trying hard not to black out, as there was now a rather strong odor in the room.

"Nah," he said. "This is fine."

So we're staring at what could be a rather lengthy process, this potty training. Unless my wife and I decide to speed things up by, say, the use of a bullwhip.

Which of course we wouldn't do, since we've been through this before with our two older kids and therefore are not about to panic.

If you're interested in these things -- and I don't see why you would be -- we got the two older kids out of diapers the old-fashioned way: by bribing them.

Every time they sat on the potty -- they didn't even have to do anything -- we'd give them a few M&Ms.

Yes, yes, their teeth will probably fall out in a few years -- there's no sense crying about that now.

But this kid . . . this kid doesn't want to hear about M&Ms. You need a $10 bill to get this kid to even look at the potty chair.

Again, we're not worried (why, do I sound worried?). All the experts say your child will let you know when he or she is ready to begin toilet training.

The other thing they tell you is not to pressure the child, because the more you pressure him, the more he'll resist. Not to mention that all your badgering will leave him with deep psychological scars and he'll hate you and start sniffing glue in junior high, and then one day when he's a teen-ager, he'll sneak into your bedroom at 2 in the morning with a can of Sunoco 190 and a book of matches.

Look, my wife and I know all that. You think we don't watch the "CBS Sunday Night Movie?"

So we have not pressured the 2-year-old at all, other than to read him a book about toilet training called "I'm a big kid now!"

The book was written by a doctor, which immediately made it suspect in my eyes.

It's about these two little cartoon brats (Jimmy and Amy) who explore the wonderful world of toilet training for the first time and find it to be just oodles of fun.

They have fun sitting on the potty chair, fun relieving themselves, fun using the toilet paper and fun helping mommy or daddy clean up afterward.

In real life, Jimmy and Amy would probably be in therapy by now, tearfully trying to discover why the only place they could enjoy themselves was the bathroom.

Anyway, the book hasn't exactly impressed my 2-year-old, who apparently prefers having fun in more conventional ways, such as riding his Big Wheels or punching his sister.

He was equally unimpressed when we went out and bought him some underwear, just to show him what "big boys" wear.

This underwear is pretty sharp-looking, too, at least if you're into the Barney the dinosaur motif.

Each pair has neat pictures of Barney catching a baseball, dribbling a basketball and doing other things that you never see the big goof do on his morning show.

I'm telling you, I'd slip these babies on myself if they had them in my size.

Then again, you start parading around the locker room at the YMCA in Barney underwear, people are going to talk.

At first, the 2-year-old said he wanted to wear the Barney undies, but only over his diaper.

But my wife and I sort of felt this was defeating the purpose, to which the 2-year-old said: "Fine, suit yourself."

Then he took off the underwear, threw them in the corner, and went merrily off to watch "Thomas the Tank Engine."

Nude, I might add.

So that's where we stand right now as far as potty training is concerned.

Progress-wise, we appear to be at a bit of a standstill, although yesterday I saw the boy shooting jump shots with his Nerf ball into the potty chair.

My wife says that's a good sign.

Unless he hasn't quite grasped the concept of what we're trying to do here.

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