I’m starting to realize that I might be one of those oblivious moms; the kind that just does things without thinking too far ahead, or considering what might come next after the present hurdle or milestone is surmounted. You would think I would have learned my lesson. I couldn’t wait for Carina to start talking. Now she won’t be quiet. I was so excited when Callen army crawled across the floor at nine months, and then was horrified when he started climbing the fireplace just a few months later. Potty training has been no different.
I wasn’t really surprised when Carina showed an interest in potty training at 16 months old. I was 8 months pregnant with Callen and in the bathroom all the time, so it was only natural for her to want to mimic me. By the time Callen was born, Carina had just started wearing big girl undies. But, then she regressed (toddler logic: if you’re going to change his diaper, you’re going to change mine!). One year and one month later, Carina was officially potty trained after many false starts, puddles on the floor, and near mommy-meltdowns.
Rockin' the Big Girl Undies
I was very happy to have one less set of diapers to change every day, but I soon realized that “official” potty training has its stages. It’s one of those many things that no one ever told me. Once a child is potty trained, things don’t necessarily get easier.
Going in 20 Seconds -Luckily, this stage did not last long, but after Carina started wearing big girl undies, there were several months when Carina had about a 20 second lead time on her potty needs. If she had to go potty, she had to GO. This was certainly an issue if we were out and about, but also became and issue at home, where I sometimes could not react to her needs immediately because I was in the middle of changing a diaper or making an important phone call.
Taking the Show on Road – Carina soon realized that her new found skill could feed her love of exploratory expeditions. Thus began her mission to visit every ladies room in the central Arkansas area. Restaurants, Wal-mart, gas stations (yuck), public parks (double yuck!), and anywhere else that looks like it might have a potty on premise will send her bladder into action. One visit doesn’t mark a potty off her list, either. Once she’s been there, she remembers, and she will suddenly need to pee when she comes within 50 yards of previously visited potties.
The Great Potty Escape – Carina also uses her diaper-less-ness as a weapon. If she wants to escape a situation, she just cries potty. She somehow mastered the ability to pee one tablespoon at a time, so she always has some potty on hand if she gets in trouble and has to stand in the corner, or if she’s tired of sitting in the stroller during our Stroller Strides class. Her teachers at parents day out expressed great concern for her physical health the first time she avoided taking a nap by getting up to go potty six times in an hour. If she’s asked to wait in these type of situations, she wails, “But I CAN’T WAIT!” and then I worry that people are going to call the Division of Family Services hotline on me if I don’t take her to the bathroom.
Night Night, Pull It Up Tight! – This is the point that I’m most disappointed with myself for not anticipating. Even though Carina is officially potty trained by day, the same is not true for night. Apparently this is standard process for all potty trainers, but no one told ME! Nine months after crossing the line into big girl undie-land, Carina still wears pull-ups to bed every night. Every morning they are soaked. Sometimes they get so wet they leak and I get to wash all the bed linens. I’m starting to wonder how long this will go on. How do kids learn not to pee when they’re unconscious?
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Big Girl Undies – And finally, having a potty trained kid has posed a challenge to travel. On a recent plane trip, we chose to put her in pull-ups just in case. Sure enough, just as one flight left the ground, Carina had to go. We couldn’t get out of our seats, so we were thankful for the pull-up. Who knows what would have happened if we had gone without. Car travel is another story. Carina is good in the car usually for about an hour or so before she gets bored and starts using potty as an escape mechanism. She also likes to wait until we’ve traveled into extreme rural-ness before playing the potty card accompanied with the “Going in 20 Seconds” urgency card. And of course, as we’re whizzing down the highway, passing all those gas stations, stores, and other businesses that have potties she’s never been to before, it makes her need to do some whizzing herself.
The travel issues are all annoying, but somewhat manageable when Craig and I are both in the car. However, when I am traveling alone with both kids, we have more of a problem. You see, as unexcited as I am about having Carina pee into a filthy gas station toilet, I am even less elated to have to bring Callen in with us so that he can roam freely while I assist Carina. He loves to lay on the floors, crawl under the stall walls, and make those swinging trash can lids spin around and around. I cringe just thinking about it. Thanks to a discussion with my mom about this, I came to the conclusion that it would be much cleaner (and possibly safer) to just pull off on the side of the road and let her pee in the grass. So, for the three-hour trip between our house and grandma’s, I’ve successfully scouted multiple overgrown parking lots, scenic overlooks, and farming field entrances that I can pull off onto and allow Carina to let it all out, one tablespoon at a time. This is probably illegal, but I’m willing to risk it.
So, if you’ve read this far, and you have potty training in your future, consider yourself warned. Potty training is so much more than you may have imagined. You might start to wonder who is training who.
I can’t wait till it’s Callen’s turn…
Visions of Things to Come