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Tooth Decay, The Inevitable By-Product of Potty Training

First, the good news:


Yes, folks, for whatever reason, the light simply switched on, and
Friday morning Maddie decided she was going to start using the
grown-up potty. She simply announced at breakfast that she wanted
to pee in the potty all day, got down from her booster seat, walked
into the bathroom, and took off her pajamas and diaper all by

I tried not to get too excited – we’ve gotten this far
before, believe me. But a few moments later, the excited screams
confirmed – Houston, we had porcelain contact.

Maddie’s been waiting for this
almost as excitedly as the adults have, simply because the longer
she’s held out the larger the treats promised have gotten. By
the time she went golden on Friday she knew that any productive
output would result in her choice of either a popsicle, a lollipop,
or a few chocolate-covered Cheerios. So she’s been eyeing the
treats – I keep them in sight, to encourage her –
longingly, and I guess the desire finally overcame her last
hesitations about the whole potty thing.

We all screamed with excitement, got everything cleaned up, and
went to choose the lollipop, which Maddie savored slowly. A couple
hours later she announced she needed to pee again, and we were once
more off to the races. By the end of the day, Maddie had eaten four
lollipops and gone through exactly one diaper, eschewing the potty
only for the, um, firmer movements. At the end of the day, Brian
reminded Maddie of the still bigger enticements out there waiting
for her – a special treat when she first pooped in the potty,
and the chance to pick out a toy when she’d used only the
potty for a whole day.

The next morning Brian got up with Maddie while I slept in another
hour (up all night again with the C-Monster), and by the time I
stumbled downstairs at 8:30 Maddie’d already peed like a pro
and selected a purple lollipop, which she was just finishing up
while Daddy made breakfast. The candy gone, Maddie threw away the
stick and said speculatively, “I think . . . I need to go
potty.” At which time she ran to the bathroom, sat down, and
squeezed out a bit more pee. As she ran back in to claim her second
lollipop before 9 a.m., I thought,

Uh-oh. May need to rethink this strategy.

Yes, Maddie is pretty much potty-trained now, and shamelessly
exploiting her new talent in the pursuit of processed sugar and
high-fructose corn syrup. Saturday she began pooping as well, and I
announced her reward would be to go to the store and pick out some
“perfume” – essential oils sprays. And over the
weekend, I’ve quickly put together alternate treats, designed
to slow down that fast train to cavities she seems to be on.
I’ve got a small basket with non-food treats for her to pick
from when the pooping occurs: a tube of Bert’s Bees lip balm
(just like Mommy uses!) and a whole handful of happy meal toys
I’ve been stashing away for just such an occasion (is my kid
the only one who doesn’t know that happy meals come with
toys?) – thank heavens Maddie can’t read, and
doesn’t notice that the car she selected this afternoon has
“Sonic” written across the trunk in flaming letters.

Food-wise I’ve also branched out: in addition to the now
dubious choice of lollipops (thank heavens I bought the miniature
ones!), I’m also offering those gummy fruit chews (you get
three at once! Isn’t that cool, honey?) and some flavored
water (just like Mommy!). Unfortunately, the $#@* lollipops seem to
be the favorite still.

We’ve not quite made it a whole day without a diaper –
she’s never asked to use the potty while out and about at,
say, church. But she’s eighty percent done and I think is
continuing to marvel at its coolness because she’s
instinctively trying to milk this candy angle for as long as she
possibly can. I’ve already told her the whole potty
experience will culminate in a huge treat – underwear
shopping. And I’ve tried to explain that she’s not
always going to get a lollipop for peeing, but I don’t think
that’s really sinking in. Just a few days ago, Maddie went
into the bathroom to observe a friend going potty (with
permission), and at the end of it all I heard Maddie say,
“Good job, Maya! (who has been potty-trained for two years
now) Would you like to come pick out your lollipop now?”

“Sure!” I heard Maya say enthusiastically, running
towards the kitchen, even as the other Mommy said a startled,
“Wait –what did you just say?” I had to explain
the rewards thing to Maddie yet again, but I think there’s a
learning barrier there. Ah, well, I’ll wean her off the candy
after I’ve weaned her off the damn diapers. One crutch at a

So for now, as the world watches the Olympians compete in Beijing,
Maddie’s going for her own gold – tooth, that is.


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