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Prparing for the Plunge

If Babyhood is all about Sleep –
learning to sleep at night instead of day, learning to sleep
through the night, being able to self-soothe and go back to sleep,
getting into regular naps, and so on – then Toddlerhood is
all about Control.

And when I say control, I mean control in many guises: developing
motor skills control, learning about emotions and how to control
them (also known as Not Throwing a Tantrum), realizing adults
control you, discovering how to control adults (can you say
Manipulation?). But there’s one more type of control that
dominates any toddlerhood – potty training.

Figuring out when and how to potty-train
your kid seems to be highest on any toddler parent’s to-do
list, and there’s clearly no hard-and-fast correct way to do
it, or we’d see one book out there instead of the thousands
you find if you Google “potty training”. Potty training
is the ultimate Control challenge – your toddler has to learn
how to master an amazingly sophisticated body system, and you have
to learn how to communicate the how-to’s in amazingly easy
sentences. I think it’s the biggest developmental anxiety of
any toddler parent.

I’m not bringing this up because I’m about to start
potty-training Maddie: at 19 months, she’s nowhere near ready
to figure this thing out. But she is starting to exhibit the first
signs of being ready and I know I’ve got to start reading up

First off, she’s become pretty interested in my restroom
habits. Every time she sees me head towards the bathroom she comes
running to watch. “Mama potties!” she exclaims, in case
our neighbors didn’t know I was going to pee. “Yep,
mama potties,” I agree. She watches intently, keeping up a
running narration (which I’ll spare you), and especially
likes the “tissue” use. She then helps close the lid
and flush, and watches while I wash my hands.

Second, she’s becoming more aware of her own elimination
habits. Whenever we’ve seen her start to poop (and if
you’re a parent you know the signs) we’ll say,
“Do you need to go potty?” Most of the time she’s
denied it, but now she’s starting to agree with us.

Madeleine’s also become pretty darn interested in the whole
diapering thing. She’ll go and get a diaper from her changing
table, bring it on out, and attempt to diaper a doll, usually Elmo.
For the obvious reasons (with a newborn I’ll take
anyone’s help), I’m wholeheartedly encouraging this new
phase. Sometimes she’ll even get her diaper pad out of her
diaper bag, set it on the floor, and attempt to put a diaper on
herself, fully clothed. Thinking it was a subtle request for a
fresh diaper, I’d ask if she wanted a change. Her screams and
denials put a quick end to that, so for now I think it’s just
another Thing Adults Do that she wants to imitate.

And finally, Maddie’s become rather chatty about what comes
out of her. She talks about having a wet diaper or a poopy diaper
while she’s being changed, and even offers a commentary
occasionally on what may be in said diaper. “Cheese and
crackers in there!” she’s sung out on a few occasions
while mommy or daddy changes a particularly fragrant specimen.

Don’t know how she came to that conclusion, but she
wasn’t wrong.

We’re still a ways away from beginning her training (like
there’s a Diaper-Free Olympics we’re striving towards)
since she doesn’t have too much control over her potty times;
she never wakes up in the morning with a dry diaper, which experts
say is a sign a child’s physically ready. And I’m not
in any hurry; this whole issue seems tense enough without putting
pressure on the kid, and if she’s 2 that’s great, and
if she’s 4 that’s expensive but fine. The last thing I
want is a 20-year-old daughter with severe Pooping Issues.

But I’m going to start shopping for a small potty to leave in
the bathroom in case she wants to give it a sit. So if anyone has
one they particularly love, please post here and say what you love
about it!


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