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Toilet Training a Toddler

I was watching an old movie the other day, and yet another teary eyed woman was waving her hanky at someone terribly important in her life, who was leaving by train for parts unknown. How sad for her. How exciting for the one on the train, destined for new horizons, adventures, places. It dawned on me that if life were run by Amtrak, there would be many, many trains arriving at and departing from the Commuter Station of Life. From birth to death and all things in between. A train for first steps, one for losing the first teeth, another for getting a license, graduating, marriage, and yes, even one for learning to use the toilet. That’s the train my two year old is preparing to board and in my mind, the imaginary conductor has called out, "Now departing on Track 2, destination Big Kid, The Potty Train!"

Nothing marks the change from baby to big kid more than the mastery of both bladder and bowels. Having been down these "tracks" twice before, you would think this is no big deal. But this time, it is with my Carson, my youngest, my last baby. That makes it a very mixed bag of emotions. There is a part of me (the part that has the preschool which requires they be potty trained, already picked out) that is anxious for her to become the master of her sphincters. However, the other part of me (the part that wants to savor my last baby) is in no hurry at all to deprive Pampers of their profits.

Butt, the interest is there. The signs are all in order. She has been waking up dry, she talks about the potty, she watches everyone, everytime they go. And so we begin. We learned with our first child that all the M&M bribes in the world and all the promised trips to Toys R Us, have no bearing on true potty training. Your child is either ready to start or they are not. I am always amazed at the stories of people who push, prod and punish. Those moms and dads who say they are potty training at 1. Give me a break. If you place your one year old on the commode and they actually do something, that is called LUCK not training. And what about the people who threaten and penalize a child who can’t go on demand? I’d love to sit them on the toilet and scream POOP! in their faces. I mean, if you don’t have to "go", you don’t have to go.

Carson is making amazing progress. With the help of some Teletubbie underwear (we do NOT want to pee on Po, do we?) and some good natured peer pressure from her sisters, she is running at about a 89 uccess rate. The remaining 11 as resulted in many dirty towels, carpet cleaner, a new bottle of Tide and a funeral for a pair of Dipsy’s that I simply would not even consider attempting to rinse out. There were only fit to be cleansed with fire. Poop really is the equivalent of a four letter word to toddlers. Somehow, there is a certain fear attached to making the sacrifice to the porcelain god. They would rather sit in a "mudslide" than "plop in a puddle". Thankfully, they get over it.

As with our other two daughters, we have been really cheering her on when she is successful. And when she is not? We hug her and just clean things up. Believe me, the look on her face when she has not made it to the potty is one of total devastation. How any adult can berate a two year old at a time like this is beyond me. Mastering this skill is proportional to a grown up attempting to climb Mount Everest. What do you mean you only made it to the fifth summit? Wuss! What a screw-up. I expect you to make it next time, mister! Wouldn’t that be helpful for the next climb?

She has woken up dry the past seven mornings. She refuses to even wear a Pull-up, in favor of her La-La and Tinky Winky skivvies. We have even made brief outings to the grocery store and Wal-Mart, sans any triple layer protection. I guess she has almost made it. I am very proud of her, but my heart is also heavy, for somewhere in my mind, that imaginary conductor has called out, "All Aboarrrrrd!". I guess it is time to get out my hanky and wave a tearful goodbye to my baby no more.

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