Will Pee for Marshmallows

Note: The following post contains euphemisms, like "pee" and "poop," which may be offensive to some readers. I'm raising two boys here, so I deal with it every day. You can, too.

What mom-of-a-preschooler blog would be legit without at least one toilet chronicle? Just to prove that I do, indeed, have one, almost two, actual children of potty training age, I decided it was important to tell our story. I dreamed of writing it using only P’s, in honor of the milestone that it is to Pee in the Pot instead of one’s Pants, and also because Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers is Cal’s favorite thing right now, and he is the hero of the story, but, alas, I cannot. However, I did manage to articulate the 3 P’s of Potty Training as we know them in the Code Yellow household.

P#1 – Procrastination. Procrastinate until the child is good and ready. The books on the subject will tell you that there are several signs of a child’s readiness, and Cal demonstrated most of them several months ago. Except for the one about caring whether you stink or squish when you sit. Didn’t Phase him. So I faithfully executed this first “P” and Procrastinated, in doubt of his readiness, because if he didn’t care that his Huggies were a mess, why would he care if his tightie whities, or the couch, or the floor, were? And I’d rather wipe a bum than have to follow the boy around with a can of Resolve. That’s why I have children instead of a Puppy. But that’s another discussion. My Procrastination mostly ended a while back when Cal (almost) successfully argued me out of making him sit in his carseat to run an errand by using the same reason I had given him for not having to wear his shoes to go – it was a short trip. I decided a kid with that sense of logic could surely use the Potty.

P#2 – Preparation. Prepare yourself and the child for a concentrated effort, even staying home for a day or two if needed, and to never go back to diapers again. (Keep in mind that this is after you have Procrastinated sufficiently – sometimes if you haven’t done the first P long enough, you do need to revert and try again later.) This second P is actually the advice of my Pediatrician. She said not to go for Pull-ups or to give up too easily and go back to diapers, because an important Part of the Process is feeling that you have to go (or that you’ve already gone). All those great Polymers and stuff in diapers that Protect our Preshies from feeling wet as tender infants are actually detrimental to the Potty training Preschooler. So talk about giving up the diaper habit a lot, and how great it will be to wear big boy pants, be allowed to Play soccer at the Y, and stay in the Play area at Wegman's while Mom grocery shops, etc. I talked to myself as much as I talked to Cal about it. I also realized that I knew from Past experience (such as giving up the "Nuk") that Cal has a time frame of his own, and if I can Prepare him enough that he feels like it is his own idea or a rite of Passage (we attached his Nuk to a helium birthday balloon and let it float away as Part of the celebration after Planning it for a couple weeks, and he never wanted it again), then the change Process is relatively Painless and hassle-free. As soon as I remembered that, I talked up the Potty thing with Cal, and by Tuesday this week, we were both ready to go for it.

P#3 – Prizes. This is where the marshmallows come in. They were actually Part of a Potty training Plot that I tried a couple months ago, but since we hadn’t executed P #1 and P#2 Properly, it failed. This time around, Calvin still insisted on marshmallows being Part of the scheme (which tells me that my level of bribery wasn't that far off), but I also bought stickers and made a chart. Little bug stickers for Peeing in the Potty, and Cal Picked out some rockin’ glittery monster truck and tree frog stickers for Pooping in the Potty. (This whole idea I borrowed from my red-headed friend Angela, whose Potty training experience was the inspiration and impetus for me to just do it. After I read her story, I knew that it was time to Poop or get off the Pot, so to speak. She's one of the original red shirts in my life, by the way.) So every time Cal went Potty the Proper way, he got a sticker on his chart, with the goal of filling the chart over the course of the next couple of days (24 squares) so he could have the bubble blower he’s been dreaming of for about three weeks. I was expecting not many stickers and a whole lot of messes the first day, but he made it until 4:47 p.m. in the same underwear I Put on him at 8:05 a.m., with NO accidents! And the first accident happened because of wardrobe malfunction in reverse – the clothing stayed on too well. That’s my boy! Anyway, he earned 16 stickers (and 39 mini-marshmallows) Tuesday, the rest yesterday, and is ECSTATIC about the bubble blower. Filled up another chart today and got a little tool set. (These “big” Prizes are less than $10 each, by the way. Compared to the cost of diapers, a small Price to pay.) AND he asked not to have to sleep in a diaper tonight, because he wants to be a big boy “in the night, too.”

One thing I really like about this is that even though he hasn’t stayed entirely clean and dry, I, the mother, am more inclined to notice the number of stickers (50) in comparison to the number of “accidents” (only 4), and it actually keeps me more Positive and supportive than I was inclined to be before the 3 Ps. Perhaps that should be P#4, or maybe the only P – Positive Reinforcement. Not always my strong suit, but it sure has worked wonders here.

So there you have it, my first adventure in the great big PP world. I was actually dreading it, but it has gone remarkably well, if I say so myself. Can’t wait to try it with Henry NEXT summer.


the lizness said...

"That’s why I have children instead of a Puppy." that was HILarious!

Angela said...

"And the first accident happened because of wardrobe malfunction in reverse – the clothing stayed on too well." HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
I just love that you could incorporate a totally Hollywood created phrase into a blog about your 3 year old getting potty trained. That my friend, is true talent in writing.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Yes, especially with boys, procrastination is the mother's best friend. Just take a load off and enjoy your kid, why dontcha? Won't you be so relaxed with Henry next year? Thanks for pointing me to this one!

The Amazing Trips said...

Ha!!!! I'm going to tag this and come back to it NEXT year when I'm in the midst of trying desperately to potty train our triplets.

Oy vey. I get the chills just THINKING about it!!!!

Anonymous said...

Good advice here. I'll be back to reread, but right now the whole idea makes me break out into a cold sweat. My son will turn 3 in July and has no interest whatsoever in using his potty chair.

How do you like the DC area? We lived in NoVA until a few months ago. I do miss it, except for the traffic.

BTW, I love the name Cal. It's my Dad's name and my son's middle name is Calvin.