Once upon a time, I considered myself a potty training expert, even a potty training guru, I dare say. After successfully training my two oldest children at 21 and 19 months of age, I knew I had unlocked the toilet training secrets of success. I had visions of charging huge fees to train other people’s children. Mothers could drop off their toddlers in diapers and pick them up in dry underwear.
Then I had twins.
My methodology was simple – a full day in the bathroom with a potty chair, a demo doll who could tinkle, lots of drinks and books to pass the time. Where my oldest children loved the training, clapping in delight at the sight of their own pee-pee in the potty and calling grandparents to share their accomplishments, my two-year-old twins found no joy in the bathroom. On our first training attempt, the boys broke out of the bathroom in less than hour, refusing to return. I put away the potty and waited six months. Apparently the boys had rehearsed the bathroom break out. The second time they shaved thirty minutes off their escape record. Clearly, it was time to try a new tactic: bribery. First I brought out M & M’s and Skittles, offering them as an incentive for success. But the boys outsmarted me, finding ways to climb up to the cabinet and eat the coveted candy without having to actually use the required toilet.
Next I bought toys which they picked out at Wal-Mart. I placed them prominently on the mantle and told them after they would be theirs only after they went potty. “That okay, Mommy,” they said. “We don’t need that toy anyway!”
The boys knew what to do; they just didn’t want to do it. I finally realized that potty training had a lot more to do with child readiness than I was willing to admit. Either that, or I was just too tired to be consistent and rather liked the idea of disposable pull-ups over soggy underwear.
Literally days before the boys turned 3, both decided they were ready to be “big kids”. Now age 4, they boys have transitioned from potty training to the fine art of potty etiquette. I guess I can’t complain; they hit the toilet with 85% accuracy. But I’m a bit concerned about their fondness for public exhibition … like the way they would rather drop their drawers in the front yard and “water” the flowers than trouble themselves to come inside and use the bathroom. Or, how they track me down, underwear to their ankles, waving a single square of toilet paper and screaming, “I’ve got a poopy bottom!”
They are almost to the finish line. We have dry nights and dry days, though the bathroom floor isn’t always dry. I’m optimistic in another few months we will be there and I’ll have finally tamed the toilet – times two.
Suzie Chafin is a Dallas, Texas mom of four children, including identical twin boys. She writes and lectures about family topics such as postpartum depression, managing multiples and Christian parenting. She is the author of Your Pregnancy Devotional (compare prices).