I've always been a beats-to-a-different-drummer kind of girl, so it makes sense I suppose that I'm never quite dialed in on conventional parenting wisdom--especially when it comes to things like when's the best time to potty train or learn to swim or learn how to clean up after yourself. I usually need a little nudge before I realize I better get on this thing or that, and most of the time it comes from my kids or society at large begging me to get with the program.
I don't remember buying big girl panties for Madeleine or deciding We Are Potty-training Now or any of that. We did buy a potty when she was two and we did make a big deal whenever she decided to sit on her thrown and squeeze out two drops of pee or the tiniest little poo. But she wasn't that into it and neither were we. She seemed so little to me, and I was still new enough as a parent to feel insecure about setting up structure when I was so unstructured myself.
My big wake-up call came when she was three and a half and talking about going to school. School? Do you mean nursery school? She had no idea, of course, other than that she was bored out of her mind at home. That much I knew was true. So I checked out the nursery school scene and quickly discovered to my horror that potty-training was required. Yikes! It was only then that I did a little inventory of her peeing and pooing habits. She absolutely was dry at night. Check. She absolutely could go for a few hours and stay dry in a pull-up. Check. She adored public restrooms. Check. And she almost always saved her big dumps for the potty--at least ever since the one time I gently suggested she not unload that full pull-up under the desk on the living room floor.
I told Madeleine the deal which wasn't hard since she was halfway to FOUR. You can go to school, but they really, really want you to do your business in the potty. Can you do that? It's just a few hours, I begged. So wise at three and a half, she nodded solemnly and got her ticket out of the nut house with mom and the new baby and spent many blissful mornings making incredible messes at finger paint center. Her pull-up stayed as dry as the Sahara Desert. It wasn't too much longer before she was ready for big girl panties like the other big girls at school and was dry all day long.
I was ecstatic.
When I reported this parenting triumph to my friends, they nodded subdued congratulations and then graciously pointed out, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JEN, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT???? THE CHILD IS ALMOST FOUR YEARS OLD?" And it was only then, in true oldest child I-had-no-idea-what-the-rest-of-you-people-were-doing-all-this-time-fashion, I was truly shocked that anyone thought I was delinquent or that Madeleine was late.
It seemed to me we got there right on time.
My toileting crisis came much later when Madeleine decided in a fit of misdirected girl power that she could pee in the yard like any of those "stupid neighborhood boys". But I'll save that for another post.
Any other non-toilet trainers out there? Leave me your success stories in the comments below, so I'll know I'm not alone. Sage warnings also welcomed if your hands-off approach totally backfired. We'll take it all.