Five Pitfalls of the Potty-Trained

In the wee hours of the dawn a couple mornings ago, I was sound asleep.*

*And by "sound asleep" I mean sound asleep in the "Mom sleep" sort of way, which is the deepest sleep you can be in while still keeping your ability to snap awake at the first sound of someone barfing or having a nightmare.

Suddenly, so close to my face that I could feel breath, came a whisper of, "I need help wiping."

Y'all? I've started my mornings in better ways than being startled out of my skin by such a heinous request. I dragged myself out of bed, stumbled to the bathroom, squinting against the sudden onslaught of light, and tiredly but dutifully removed fecal matter from the tiny butt of a four-year-old who has trouble doing it himself.

And that got me to thinking. I've potty-trained three kids now: some successfully, some not so much. And I'm always excited about it. Like it's this huge breakthrough. Like it's the end of all the messes I'll have to clean up, ever. Like, no more diapers! I'm freeeeeeee!

Somehow I never consider that "no more diapers" does NOT mean "kid uses the bathroom with complete independence and requires no assistance whatsoever EVER EVER AGAIN." Because even when they're "potty trained," there are several factors to contend with, which in my experience can take literally years to overcome. For example:

The "Uh-Oh, Mommy!" This is what happens when the kid knows how to use the toilet but doesn't always grasp the timing of getting there. It's what daycare centers and kindly moms refer to as "accidents," and what I refer to as, "Damn it! I don't need any more laundry!" They haven't yet learned to read their body's signals, which often results in either soiled pants or an unsavory trail of something all the way to the bathroom. And even when they're a little older, they sometimes get too engrossed in playing or tormenting their siblings or something and bam: Piss City. (Or Diarrheatown, if you're particularly unlucky.)

The Clothing Conundrum. This is when the kid's out of diapers, but still sucks at maneuvering clothing up and down and snapping and zipping and stuff. Sometimes you have to help them pull their pants down. Sometimes you have to help them pull their pants up. Sometimes you forget that they can't pull their own pants up which leads to them waddling pantsless into the living room where you are entertaining company. Sometimes they take their shoes off in order to get their pants down, which then must be put on again. And most of the time, there are buttons and zippers to contend with.

Bonus points if your kid feels he must be completely naked in order to poop.

The Aim Game. This might be a moot point for mothers of girls, but for those of us with kids of the dudely persuasion, it's definitely an issue. Because even when your kid is able to use the toilet, it takes a long damn time (in some cases, a lifetime) for them to learn to use it successfully. When boys pee, the goal is simple: just hit the water. You'd think this would be an easy task, but no - because there are apparently things to do while you pee that are more important than aiming. Like looking around and messing with the flusher and the towel on the rack above the toilet and peeing all over the place in the process. This is to say nothing of the fact that you must remind them on a constant basis to PLEASE. Put. The seat. Down. 

... For like six years. Possibly longer if you aren't consistent.

The Hygiene Hassle. As illustrated by my tale above, they will need help wiping after they poop. They'll need your assistance (heh heh ... ass-sistance) for so long that you start to envision yourself wiping their butts as you send them off to college. You'll wonder, "Does my child really need help or is he just being lazy about it?" And then your question will be answered when your kid tries to wipe himself and ends up with poop smeared all over the toilet and down the backs of his legs and in between his fingers. Yes. They need help. For years. And you'll pay dearly if you don't drop everything at once to attend to said butt-wiping - because either they will have made a mess with it, or the poo will have started to dry (it happens fast, trust me) and it will be a spackled-on situation that only a box of baby wipes can handle.

The Perils of Public Peeing. Or pooping. Either way, once your kid realizes that he can use the toilet, the public restrooms of the world become his personal playground. Shopping at Target, the grocery store, at the mall, the park, the zoo, the doctor's office, the hardware store, Taco Bell, church ... it doesn't matter where you are. If you're away from home, he's going to want to check out the "facilities" - guaranteed. The problem is, you can't just send a barely-potty-trained little person in by themselves and hope for the best. You have to stop what you're doing and accompany them. Not only that, but they don't get how nightmarishly disgusting public toilets are, so they're putting their hands all over them and you're cringing and saying, "No, don't touch that!" and "NO! Don't touch that!" and then of course you have to wash their hands, which means hoisting them up to a sink they can't reach and getting their sleeves all wet and water all over the place and hoping they don't touch anything with their clean hands while you're fetching paper towels.

See what I mean? I don't know why I get so excited about my kids being out of diapers. Because when I think about it, I'd rather spend 45 seconds changing one (I'm a pro at this point) than do most anything else I just talked about. Yeah, they're out of diapers, but so what? I'm still a virtual slave to their bodily functions.

I think I'll just invest in some huge diapers and encourage my kids to use the toilet less. At least until they learn to do it all by themselves.

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  1. Love it, and so true!! My middle daughter potty trained herself, against my will. My youngest is still in diapers... I give her an M&M every time she poops in her diaper.

  2. Perfect description of the perils of post-potty-training! And even after all that part is over (if you're the mom of boys), there comes the time when they decide they're too big to go to the women's restroom with you and you have to worry about pedophiles while you wait for your son outside the men's bathroom. (Or am I the only one who worried about such things?)

  3. yes! My daughter was potty trained at 1 1/2 - I have virtually lived in a bathroom ever since. Since she A) is a frequent pee-er by nature and B) LOVES new bathrooms! Restaurants are her favourite. She's always (understandably) disappointed by walmart, grocery stores etc. She will be 3 in a few months and I'm still a regular butt-wiper.

  4. My almost two year old has to do everything her 3YO big sister does... Including potty training. So the little sis takes her diaper off, poops on the floor and the big sis steps in it and walks across the house (all in the 35 seconds it took me to run upstairs to grab the pee pee clothes off the bathroom floor from earlier that day) Really?!? Love your blog! Helps to find some humor in all this!

  5. My son knows where every bathroom is in every store :-S I seriously don't understand the fascination


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