Potty Training is the Sh*ts - Learning to Go Full Elsa
Having potty trained two kids I can say with absolute unscientific certainty that the entire phrase “potty training” is in itself a sham. The only people getting trained are the parents….the first of many instances where you realize that you can lead a kid to the potty but you can’t make them sit on it.
Our first foray into potty training started innocently enough: our daughter was about two and half years old and a family member casually remarked that she was “too old to be in diapers.” It struck me that I had never really even thought about potty training and it had definitely NOT occurred to me that I was somehow dropping the ball in this department. Was she too old? Am I a neglectful mom? How the heck do you potty train? So I made my second in a series of many potty training mistakes (the first was listening to my family member.)
I got on Dr. Google and started looking up potty training methods and came across the “Three Day Potty Training Method.” Three days, I thought to myself. Sounds pretty sweet to me. I am a busy person and am all about effective time management, haha.
Three days turned into nearly THREE YEARS, many charts, toys, stickers, bribes, destroyed underwear, potty timers, hours spent sitting on a cold bathroom floor, silly songs, tears, anger, angst, guilt, a specialist (two actually) and eventually the resignation that my kid was starting Kindergarten in diapers and that was just the way it was going to be. There is not a potty training trick in the world that was not tried in our house and EVERY SINGLE ONE failed. We failed. We clearly sucked at parenting. Or at least that’s what it felt like.
The simple act of removing waste from your body and depositing it in a hygienic and socially appropriate place was not simple at all and turned our lives into a battleground. It was ruling our lives and frankly ruining them. Each day that passed where my daughter pooped anywhere but the one place she was supposed to be was like a tick against me and my skills as a mother. My anxiety and guilt grew. The anxiety caused me to respond in impatient and unhelpful ways which caused HER anxiety to grow and suddenly we were locked in a battle to the death over poop, ka-ka, excrement, doo doo…whatever you want to call it, the whole situation was the shits.
And finally the Oprah Ah-ha moment. This wasn’t about the potty at all – it was about CONTROL and I had played right into my tiny tyrant’s hands. I had created this situation, not her, and only I could turn this thing around. Sure, the three-day training method might work for lots of people but it didn’t for us because SHE WAS NOT READY. My inability to stand strong against societal pressures had practically suffocated her and had caused her to rise up and seize control of one of only two things she had control of: what she ate and where she pooped and peed. Sounds so animalistic, doesn’t it?
So I did the thing that was hardest of all for a control freak like me to do: I backed right off. I went full Elsa and let that shit go – literally. Poop wherever you want Kid. I don’t care. Chill as a cucumber over here. You are the boss of you. You want to poop leaning against that tree over there? GO FOR IT. And it worked. She pooped! In a potty! And she kept doing it. And she started school as a fully functioning underwear wearing kid. Mom guilt receded (slightly.)
So mamas, my friend’s friend (who inspired this post), dads, grandmas, grandpas and anyone else feeling guilt or stress over your kid’s poop and pee habits….stop. There is enough guilt in this world. Chill like Elsa and back away. And when it gets too tough, come back and read this post and know that if you are still under the three years in training mark, you are WINNING.
And for the record, my second kid practically potty trained himself. I was so emotionally scarred from my first experience that I could not even fathom having to do it again. So I didn't. And one magical day, my second child just walked over to a potty, sat down, did the deed and never looked back. See? Gotta go Full Elsa.
Do you have your own potty training horror stories or wisdom? Share them in the comments below!