I clearly remember the day I boasted about my two year old son’s potty training. “I taught him in three days!” I gushed. (As if teaching or I had everything to do with it). I went on for years thinking I had unlocked the potty training secret. I am such a good mommy! Then my daughter came along and well, she’s still not completely trained and she’s pushing four years old.
After you’re done snickering and smirking, you might be thinking, “Oh, Darla! Just try sticker charts/rewards/throw potty parties/have her go naked/feed her M&Ms/stand on your head and juggle…it worked for me!”
Well I am here to say there is no chart or reward out there that will get that girl to go. No amount of pleading, whining and begging will work. No Reese’s peanut butter cup promises. No jumping up and down clapping like a deranged seal and/or showering her with confetti. Nothing impresses my daughter. And I’ve tried, believe me, I’ve tried. If there’s anything I’ve painfully learned as a parent, potty training is the one thing a child can control completely. My pediatrician told me as much on the phone when she sighed and said that this is completely normal and there isn’t a damned thing I can do but wait for her to be ready in her own time. Terrific.
Am I a lazy parent? Have I not tried hard enough or am I doing this “wrong”? I know what you’re thinking, because I admit I used to think the same thing of other parents. Or is it just possible that (gasp!) each child is different?
You may be one of the lucky ones who are blessed with kids who are potty trained at two, ditched the binky at one, never climbed into bed with you once in the middle of the night and never ever threw tantrums in public. Oh, how I envy you!
I hate to break it to you, but while some of it actually is good parenting, another part of it is pure luck. This is the secret they don’t tell you when the nurse hands you that baby in the hospital.
Everything your child says and does for the rest of their lifetime is not a direct result of what you do as a parent. A child is born and a child enters this world with his/her own personality and temperament. Sometimes you can do everything “right” and go by “the book” and still your child thumbs her nose at you and laughs in your face. Welcome to parenting! Leave your ego at the door!
I’ve come to this realization because my two kids are polar opposites. My son couldn’t sit still at restaurants. He’d squirm, climb under the table, throw his fork at the poor couple next to us and swing from the chandelier. People would glare, I’d hang my head in shame. Up until the age of six, I dreaded taking him into a restaurant unless it was a McD’s with the huge playground. For years I had this sinking feeling. I must be a horrible mom, because nothing I did would get him to behave. He was a constant ball of energy. It was like trying to contain a dynamite explosion with my bare hands. My pediatrician assured me my son was simply an “extremely active” boy and I was doing everything in my power to be a good parent. I look back now and I realize that once again, she was right. After I had my second child, I realized that I was not a bad mom after all.
My daughter is already capable of sitting still at a restaurant, coloring quietly with not a single fork flying and she’s only three. I did nothing different in my method of parenting either of them to create these behaviors. I don’t take complete credit for my daughter’s behavior. I realize that this is just the way she is wired. She prefers to color, while my son preferred to break the crayons up into tiny pieces and shove them up his nose. To each his/her own.
I’m not saying you should abandon all hope when your child challenges you. Or attribute a child’s behavior only to the child’s personality. Quite the opposite! As parents, we constantly have to set boundaries and help guide our kids down that rocky road to the acceptable behavior. Sometimes it’s a quick stroll. But for some of us, it is a harder, steeper and pot-hole riddled road that requires you to step up and work even harder to get the same results that the mom next to you seems to get effortlessly.
A friend of mine has a four year old daughter who still has potty issues. We recently shared our stories of failed attempts (mine including cutting holes in the diaper as suggested by my ped). As I laughed at myself and my pathetic parenting skills, I felt that pressure to be a perfect mom lift off my shoulders. Sometimes, it’s a matter of letting go and letting the kid be. I know in my heart of hearts that someday, (god please be willing) my kids won’t be in diapers, sucking on binkies and climbing under the table at restaurants. I can only hope and keep on keepin’ on.