One of the perks of coming from a big family is that I am blessed to have so many nieces and nephews. My youngest brothers are in the midst of potty training their children and watching them work at it brought back so many memories. It seems like only yesterday that I was potty training my youngest. I swear with my first one I had her potty trained by the time she was 16 months old, but by the time number six came along I was a little more laid back.
As another birthday approached for Finn, I decided that I needed to step it up and get him out of diapers. I tried everything. Cheerios in the toilet for him to take aim at, a candy jar for him to grab a treat from every time he went, a Porsche on his 16th birthday….but nothing worked. Sometimes he would be really on-board with the potty thing and want to go. The problem is that he would tell me as I was in the middle of shopping. One time we were at the bookstore and Finn tells me he needs to go potty. I gather up the other five kids and race to the other side of the store to the bathroom. We just miss getting there in time for him to use the potty. I spend the next 20 minutes standing in the bathroom drying his pants with the hand dryer while entertaining the kids by playing “I Spy”. Now if I were organized I would bring extra pants for him, but some days I was just grateful that we got out of the house with shoes. My co-host and I even had a woman on our show who called herself the Potty Whisperer to get some tips. Interesting career. For $250 she will spend 5 hours with your child and swears that in that time she can potty train them. Her theory is that in a given amount of time, by giving the child lots of sugary drinks to keep them hydrated just for a 5 hour period and taking them to the potty every 15 minutes, that by the end of that period, BAM, they are potty trained. She said she brings a little toddler potty and wherever they are in the house at the 15 minute mark out it comes for your toddler to sit on. I laughed thinking I would pay just to see my teenagers faces when they are sitting around with their friends and the “Potty Whisperer” brings out the toddler potty in the rec room for their baby brother to use. Real cool.
I was really starting to feel hopeless and that I would never get him potty trained. I had been changing diapers for 14 years, I was ready to close the door on that chapter of my life. In a last ditch effort I decided to take him to Wal-Mart to get him some big boy underwear. I made a huge deal of it and made all the kids come for what I was hoping would be a monumental event. I thought if he felt like his big brother and sisters were excited, then he would get excited. We all go in and let him pick out what kinds he wants. It is a 30 minute debate whether to get Batman or Spiderman or Diego underwear and every time we think he has made the decision, he changes his mind. Finally, he chooses two packs and off we go to pay. I am standing in the checkout line and about to pay when I hear, “Mommy, I am ready for my big boy underwear”. I look and there is Finn totally naked with the exception of his little crocs which are still on his feet. I look a little past him and see the line of clothes strewn down the aisles. First the shirt, then the pants, and finally the diaper. I finish paying and quickly throw on a pair of his new underwear. As we are leaving the store he is telling anyone and everyone about his new big boy underwear. From that moment forward he was potty trained.
I told my brother, as crazy as it sounds, embrace the moments and memories of potty training your children. Sometimes you just need another parent to smile with you and reassure you that we have all spent time feeling like our children will never get it. But I can promise that they will as soon as they are ready. Just remember that throughout the journey of feeling like you are a diaper changing king or queen to becoming diaper free, you have to relax a little and know these moments will someday be those funny, family stories that you all share together.