At long, long last, Joshua has made some progress in potty-training. Today was his first ever three-peat (three-peed?) for peeing in the potty. From waking up this morning until around 6:00 this evening, he stayed dry and clean, making three successful deposits at the First Bank of Plastic-Bucket-Passing-Itself-Off-As-A-Potty. The sticker and candy faucets were flowing as bountifully as the urine, and all was well with the world. The light at the end of the tunnel was not, as it turns out, an oncoming train.
What sparked this breakthrough? The boy was motivated before, but apparently, not motivated enough. Now, your average three-year old boy gets amped up for [insert popular cartoon character/TV show here], but my boy found his potty muse in the form of educational workbooks from the dollar store. With that sweet, delectable tome of numerical instruction perched tantalizingly behind the bathroom sink’s faucet, he voluntarily and with unprecedented zeal dropped trou and filled that little bowl thrice. To judge by Jen’s and my reactions, you’d have thought Ed McMahon showed up at our house with a giant cardboard check.*
We’d tried incentives aplenty. Stickers and candy reward each successful potty act, and we’ve tried games on my phone, books, puzzles, you name it. Not until Jen unearthed a handful of workbooks we’d purchased as potential Christmas gifts (we are terrible parents) did Joshua finally find his potty purpose. We proposed that, for each day he kept his underwear dry, he’d get a workbook. This did the trick. Mostly. A poop-splosion rather ruined the day’s final hours, but his progress was so great for the rest of the day, we just let him have the workbook, anyway. Today’s workbook was about numbers. Tomorrow’s, I believe, is phonics. If he can string together three days in a row, he’ll earn himself a trip to the noodle shop. If you’ve ever seen my kid eat, you’ll know that this is basically his Disney World.
As I take a step back for perspective, I observe that we have screwed up our child in two not insignificant ways.
- He gets downright giddy about letters, numbers, shapes, and various combinations thereof. These are in place of whatever it is that kids watch on television. We allow him 30 minutes of screen time a day, though he’s pretty ambivalent about it and we feel good about that. Instead, he passes his time reading, spelling words, arranging, re-arranging, and re-re-arranging his dozens of sets of letters. In a few years, if this kid’s not on stage at Scripps, it won’t be for a lack of interest.
- As good as we feel about his interests and hobbies, we feel just as bad about his truly terrible diet. It’s basically a combination of noodles (pasta, ramen, etc.), fruit snacks, cheese, and an assortment of crackers. When we go out, I see lots of other kids eating vegetables, beans, and nuts like they’re damn rabbits, and my guilt swells because my kid basically eats like he’s at a cocktail party. I feel especially bad about it because I’m an awfully good cook, but my child eats like we don’t own a refrigerator or stove. Anyway, he’s bonkers for noodles, so the noodle shop holds a lot of promise. But I’m afraid he’s probably building it up in his mind into something unreachable for, you know, a noodle shop.
So, today was big. It’s been his best day so far by a wide margin. It’s been head-bangingly frustrating at times, and we’re well past the “three days and a rug cleaning” time frame that the various parenting websites, magazines, and books outline. [Pro-tip: don’t read any of those and expect your kid to be normal. You’ll decide that your child is, in turns, breathtakingly brilliant and destined for greatness, or a mouth-breathing cretin who’s too stupid to live.] It’s also the first day since… actually since the first day of training that I thought we might get this done, like, ever. There was a small, but loud part of me that thought we’d have to just transition from diapers to Depends once he hit another growth spurt. But no more! He will wear underwear, and I will once more only have to wash one kid’s diapers. Ah, status quo, how I’ve missed you.
*Does Ed McMahon still do this? Did he ever do this? Or did his minions actually deliver the Publishers Clearinghouse checks? Also, where do you suppose you could get a giant cardboard checkbook? I’d love to pay some bills with those things.