Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why Potty Training Makes Me Cry

Planning ahead for potty training, Jon and I have had a potty chair in Gus' bathroom since he was 18-months-old. He would rarely sit on it, usually before bath time, but it was there, present, available and he would sometimes want to sit on it. It was at this same time that we began to leave the door open when we used the bathroom and began to invite him to go with us. We knew that we were laying the groundwork for potty training. Some day, Gus would become interested and we would be ready.

In September Gus started to occasionally ask to wear underwear. By this time, Gus had the bathroom vocabulary, knew everything that needed to be done to go potty (he would walk us through going to to the bathroom as we went), but we kept putting him off. We didn't think he was physically ready AND we didn't have any underwear for him. At first Gus would ask to wear underwear very randomly. Then it became once a week. Then it became twice a week. Then it became every couple of days. At the end of September, we took Gus with us to buy his first pack of underwear. His choices were Sesame Street (Elmo, Oscar and Cookie Monster) or Thomas the Train. Seeing Elmo, he chose the Sesame Street. We kept putting him off, knowing that we were either getting closer and closer to potty training or he would lose interest. In any case, we knew we had underwear ready when Gus did decide he was ready to start using the big potty. Then, starting on October 14, he asked to wear underwear every day for an entire week. We knew we couldn't put him off any longer.

On Sunday, October 21, we put Gus in his big boy underwear and planned to not leave the house. Over the course of the day, he only had 4 accidents (3 pees and 1 poop) from 7am to 7pm, not counting his nap, for which he wore his sleeping diaper. I was very impressed, especially for a first day. The next day, we sent him to day care with plenty of underwear and plenty of changes of clothes. He did very well..only 2 accidents. Since we started officially potty training, Gus has had good days (no accidents other than poop) and bad days (5 accidents: 4 pee and 1 poop). We know that it will be this way for quite a long time, especially since he wanted to start training at a stereotypically very early age for boys-26 months. Things have been going as expected during early potty training, but that doesn't explain why I suddenly burst into tears...over potty training...earlier this week.

What does explain my tears is that we will never get to potty train Oscar, Bella and Tittle. With Oscar and Bella, we would have had to expect that they wouldn't train at the same time. We, as parents, would not compare them in their training efforts, but know that if Bella trained earlier she would have definitely taunted Oscar with the fact that he was still in diapers. We will never know how they would have handled potty training and what types of motivation would have worked for them. Would Bella have wanted the full out celebration with clapping, dancing and singing every time she went on the potty? Would Oscar have preferred, like Gus, the quiet encouragement of a good job, high five and kiss on the cheek? And what about Tittle? I think Tittle would have been a sneaky little boy that would have worn diapers until he was certain that he knew how to potty on the toilet, just to surprise us one day by taking of his diaper, putting on his underwear, never looking back and having very few accidents.

It is so exciting and wonderful to experience every new thing with Gus, but at the exact same time, it is a reminder of everything that we are missing with Oscar, Bella and Tittle. Most days I can keep this in check. Most days I can focus on the fun, happiness and wonder that surrounds Gus. But sometimes it's just too much. Sometimes I can't help but look through the window at all that I'm missing and not learning with Oscar, Bella and Tittle. And this time, it's potty training that makes me cry.

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