Posted by: workforcookies | March 31, 2009

Potty time

toilet-newThis weekend I had the pleasure of changing my nearly three-year-old son’s poopy diaper in the very back corner booth of a New York City restaurant. The waiter respectfully looked the other way while I tended to my child, but I still felt as if I were doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing.
And according to the people at Baby Signs, my inability to get my son out of his diapers before the age of 18 months is a danger to our environment. When I consider the number of diapers he’s gone through since he hit the 18-month mark, I suppose they have a point. According to Baby Signs, ever since the introduction of disposable diapers in the early 1960s, the average age for potty training children in America keeps climbing. Right now, they say, it’s at an all time high of three years for girls and two months more for boys.

The truth is, I’m not trying to kill trees or clog up the landfills and I would LOVE it if my son were potty trained. In fact, I have made numerous attempts at accomplishing that very goal, but all of my efforts seem to have either failed miserably or backfired on me. I started by introducing him to the idea of using the potty when he was a little over 18 months. I bought: the Fisher Price potty, the book My Big Boy Potty, and Elmo’s Potty Time DVD. My son loved all these potty accoutrements—he especially liked the toilet paper rap song in the Elmo DVD. But, when I asked him if he wanted to sit on the potty like Elmo, the answer was no. Taking cues from all of my parenting books, I didn’t force the issue….until after his second birthday.

We’d been tripping over the Fischer Price potty on the floor of the bathroom for six months and I thought it was time my son sat his tush on it. I thought a little bribe could get things moving in the right direction, so I told him he could have one M&M if he sat on the potty, two M&Ms if he tee teed and three if he pooped. He promptly pooped (once), tee teed (maybe two or three times), enjoyed his M&Ms then declared himself done with the potty.

Six months later, I applied just a tiny bit of pressure by requiring him to sit on the potty at regular intervals—after breakfast, before nap, after nap and before bedtime. He complained about it loudly, but didn’t refuse completely because I let him watch his little DVD player while sitting on his fancy talking potty. For the first week I let him wear his diaper when he wasn’t sitting on the potty. At the start of the second week, I took the diaper off and put big boy underpants on him when he wasn’t sleeping. I could feel his interest weakening, so for motivation I took him to the toy store and told him to pick out any toy he wanted. He chose a $70 Cranky Crane from the Thomas the Tank Engine collection. I thought about telling him no, then I reasoned that I’d save $70 in diapers alone in the next three months. When we got home, I put him in Thomas the Train big boy underpants and continued the scheduled potty time sittings.

I perched Cranky Crane a top the armoire in our dining room and my son stared up at the overpriced toy during meal time, promising to learn to potty soon so he could play with him. Then he would sit on his potty and hold it, hold it and HOLD it until I put a diaper on him for nap time or bedtime. A few days later, he had an accident on the couch. As my books suggested, I cheerily told him that accidents happen. I even sang the accompanying tune from the Elmo potty DVD. My son was so encouraged by this that he started having regular “accidents” on the couch. At one point, I started putting towels on the couch “just in case.” But the day my son asked me to put the towel on the couch so he could “have an accident” I calmly, yet firmly, explained to him that while accidents did indeed happen, when they’re planned, they are technically NOT accidents. The next day, he not so calmly told me that he didn’t want to wear big boy underwear anymore.

“What about Cranky Crane?” I asked in surprise.

“I don’t want Cranky Crane,” he whined.

“Should we throw him in the trash?” I asked, more than just a little peeved at this point.

“Yes. We need to throw Cranky Crane in the trash,” he said, without the slightest hint of remorse.

Instead of the trash, Cranky went into our basement, to be pulled out another day when hopefully my son has forgotten about the trauma of his first few blushes with potty training. In the meantime, my son and I will continue clogging the landfills, killing trees and dodging sideways glances at New York City restaurants.



  1. That is so funny! I loved the accident on the couch part! LOL!! All my boys potty trained at exactly 3 years and 3 months. Completely by themselves. Summer is great for PT, let him outside, nudie-pah-toodie. Take heart, it WILL happen.

  2. […] those of you who have been keeping up (first of all, thank you), this latest attempt was not the first we’ve made at nixing the nappies. We’ve been telling my son for a while now—a long […]

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