The first thing you’ll read in any book or article on potty training is this: Kids potty-train on their own time. Let them pick the pace. Of course, another pellet of wisdom from the potty experts is that children need to be physically capable of removing their pants, which is why Thomas — to his undying chagrin — is not being potty trained yet.
You see, Thomas is very pro-potty. Anytime James happens to be sitting on his little blue Baby Bjorn potty chair, Thomas squeals with glee and places the training seat on the big potty and shrieks at me until I deposit him atop his throne, to a chorus of triumphant cackling. In the event that he is not placed on the potty while James is trying for No. 2, Thomas will angrily drop a deuce in his diaper right then and there.
While Thomas’ goal is to use the toilet like a big kid, James’ goal is to transcend the excretory system altogether. Oh, sure, he is happy to put something in the potty if there’s a treat on the line. But James has far greater ambitions.
“I stay dry all day,” he tells anyone who will listen. “I never EVER EVER go pee! I NEVER go poop!”
And with that goal in mind, he stayed dry all last night, for the first time ever.
“Would you like to pee in the potty, James?” I asked after retrieving him from his room.
“No, Mommy!” James shouted. “I stay DRY!”
“James,” I explained gently, “The way people stay dry is by using the potty so they don’t have pee accidents.”
“I STAY DRY.”
“OK, James,” I said. “We’ll try after breakfast.”
After a two-juice breakfast, I asked him to sit on the potty again.
“No, Mommy, I stay dry ALL NIGHT. I never EVER need to go to de potty. I STAY DRY!”
All right, then. Of course, it’s no easy task steeling oneself against bowel and bladder evacuation when one’s attention is divided between holding in a night’s worth of pee and playing with toy excavators.
Ten minutes in, James stood stock-still in the middle of the room and hailed me with a familiar refrain: “I so soaked, Mommy! I so pooped!”
“James,” I asked as I escorted him to the bathroom, “Do you think maybe you should have gone in the potty when I asked you to?”
“NO! I stay DRY!” he insisted, Pull-Ups drooping heavily with evidence to the contrary.
As I cleaned him up, I could hear Thomas banging on the door and squealing with anger at my failure to include him in the festivities. Once James was ensconced on his wee throne, I opened the door to an overwhelming statement by Thomas, in olfactory form, that one can indeed attain yogi-like control over one’s bodily functions.
In a world in which Thomas was not one of three spirited children, I might consider toilet-training a baby who was neither able to remove his pants nor climb onto his potty of preference (yes, the Baby Bjorn is great for putting toys in and all, but nothing beats a giant, flushable potty into which you can fit your entire body if you so desire). But there are other kids in this family. Ones who are likely to start jumping off tables or get into the glitter glue if I disappear into the bathroom to keep the baby from drowning himself in the loo. So until the summer, when Thomas has reached the 18-month mark and isn’t swathed in heavy winter clothing, we’re just going to have to put up with on-demand pooping synchrony.
In happier news, James has stayed dry all afternoon. Now, if only we can convince him that his big-boy underpants are, indeed, NOT made of stinging nettle …