Letting Potty Training go for now…

So, in a sense, it has happened.

I’ve actually read a lot of Mommy blogs where they throw up their hands and cry, “I give up!” It’s too hard!” “He won’t do what I say!” “We’re putting her back in diapers!” “I’m such a failure!”

Okay, I’ve rarely read that last one, but I’m pretty sure that’s the gist of all the lamenting.

Well…I’m joining the ranks, but I think for a different reason. After giving this much thought, I have a theory on why Daniel’s not going potty anymore. You see, it has to do with how much new stuff his little mind can hold.

Last week, Daniel learned a new skill. In his brain, a new dendritic branch grew, firing a synapse left instead of right, relaying signals to his left wrist that conveyed the instructions: instead of rattling the handle, why not grasp it, turn it to the right, and see what happens? He obeyed, and to his utter delight he opened his bedroom door. So thrilled was he of his new skill, he proudly showed it off, again and again and again, much to the dismay of his father. (I believe my hubby’s reaction was, “Oh, crap. Now we’ll have to start locking our bedroom door so he won’t get in…”)

Fast forward to this week. Daniel’s crying. He’s on the other side of the bathroom door and he wants his Mommy. So I call out, “Daniel, open the door.” The door remains inexplicably closed. Finally, I turn the knob and Daniel’s tears instantly vanish. “Mommy!”

“Hey kiddo,” I jiggle the knob. “What happened to opening the door?”

He looks at me as if I asked him what the Capital of Spain was, in Swahili. I put his hand on the knob and he jiggles it, then is distracted by his Thomas the train engine and wanders off. Just like that, his new sense of freedom is already forgotten. I call him back over, put his hand on the knob, and turn it with him, and his eyes light up. “Oh yeah! I can open doors now! I’m invincible!”

It takes a while for a toddler to make sense of his world around him. Skills are constantly being learned, then put on the back burner to simmer while new skills are explored. I’ve been always afraid that if we stop teaching Daniel potty training, he’ll completely forget it and we’ll have to start all over again. But so far, it hasn’t been true. We still put him on it when he wakes up, before he takes a nap and before he goes to bed so we can establish the habit of him sitting on it. Sometimes he goes. Sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he’ll actually come up to me and go “Pee-pee?” and really does go. Other times (mostly during Elmo), he could care less. But I think that potty-training skill is sitting on the back of his mind, growing, maturing, turning into something that makes more sense to him, and one day, it will click and he’ll finally understand what it’s for.

All toilet training is really an evergoing process. I don’t know why I was hyper about it earlier, but I think because I’ve been duped by all these books and programs that toilet training should take place in a day, or at least a week. If it doesn’t then, YOU PUSHED HIM TOO SOON, YOU STUPID MORON OF A MOTHER! AND NOW SINCE HE FAILED, YOU HAVE FAILED AS WELL!!! SCORPION WINS!!! BABALITY!!!

(Now how did a Mortal Kombat reference get in there….?)

It’s pretty stupid when you think about it. All of us mothers trying to force kids to do something within a few days, instead of giving them time to explore this new skill at their own pace. Geez, I don’t want Daniel to be four years old and in diapers, but on the flip side, I don’t to weep and wail and gnash my teeth whenever Daniel gets another accident. I did that for a week and it gets old fast.

So I’m going to unstress myself and leave Daniel in diapers. We’ll still do the potty songs, we’ll still put him on. When he does go, I’ll give him lots of hugs and kisses. But I think I’ll stop the reward system, because, frankly, I think it’s useless. When Daniel wants to go, he goes, and ain’t no M&M, sticker, or Cheerio target will convince him otherwise. And anyway, the M&Ms we have in the clear pickle jar, well, they smell a lot like candy-coated pickles.