Tomorrow is a big day in this household. My wife and I, having returned ten days early from our international adventures, decided to use the week of quarantining with our toddler to tackle potty training.
Basically, this means that we’ll be hanging out with a tiny nudist for a week or so trying to guess when it’s go time.
As first time mamas, we’re more than a little bit daunted by this challenge. I’m not super jazzed about spending the next few days wiping pee off my floor, and I can’t even imagine the grosser aspects of the whole process. I’m the kind of person who likes things clean; I believe there is a single correct way to make the bed or load the dishwasher. Adjusting to the ongoing storm of living with a toddler has been hard enough without adding new, um, elements.
All that aside, though, this is actually not about me. It’s about my kiddo learning a new skill. He’s going to be learning a new level of awareness to his body and its functions, deepening his relationship to his physical self. I want to make sure that this deepening is positive and that his relationship to his body is one of love and admiration.
When I was a kid, I had trouble learning to use the potty. I was a bed-wetter until a pretty late age, and I had a lot of trouble remembering to go to the bathroom during the day as well. In hindsight, this may have had something to do with my ADHD (with which I was only diagnosed this year) making a mess of my impulse control and sense of time.
My folks, understandably, were often exasperated. They didn’t know what to do with their first grader who continued not to make it to the bathroom on time. There were incentives, punishments, star charts, promises of Legos and donut holes. I’m sure they felt they were at their wits’ end.
For me, these memories are tinged with a deep sense of failure and a whole lot of shame. I hid my wet underwear in my room, prayed that they would dry and I wouldn’t have to answer any questions. I woke up in the night to a wet mattress and tried to figure out how to hide that, too.
I don’t know what I would have done back then, or what I’ll do now if my little one faces similar challenges. Will I also be making star charts and promising donuts if I’m still trying to potty train my…