Sunday, August 22, 2010

Potty Training, the Day I Quit

What I've learned today:
  1. If they're not ready, they're not ready. A good mom knows when it's time to throw in the towel.
We're done. Nope, not done as in the 'he's wearing underwear all the time and always tells us when he has to pee' done. More like the 'he wears underwear only to pee in it and never pees on the potty but pees all over our apartment' kind of done. Remember my worst fear, as mentioned on Day 3? I'll quote: "I'm not sure what I imagined, but I think whole rooms sprayed with pee and smeared with poop were somewhere in the picture." Yeah, pretty much like that, minus the poop (thank goodness!).

I thought  it was going ok at the beginning. We had some challenges, but I thought we were overcoming them. I guess the novelty wore off. First, it became a sticker battle. He'd go into the bathroom, ask to sit on the big potty (because there's already water in it), sit for 2 seconds, grab toilet paper, wipe, and say "all done! Sticker?" So mommy says no, and he has a tantrum. Then, he'd either pee on the floor during his tantrum, or 5 minutes later when he was playing. Since everything I read said to make sure potty training wasn't a battle and didn't involve punishment, this was especially frustrating. I wasn't trying to punish him. I was trying to reward him. But he didn't get it.

He was also stubborn. We'd gently remind him to let us know when he had to pee or poop, or ask if he needed to go. After those first few days, the answer was always a short but firm, "No." Of course, that's his favorite word, he never ever says "yes" to anything. I'd try to guide him to the potty every so often to sit and try, in which case I'd get an adamant "Nooooooo!" Sometimes he'd do it, but then not pee. But the part that made me realize we were just done was when not a minute after sitting on the potty, we'd be in the living room and he'd pee in his underpants and on the floor and/or furniture. Sometimes less than a minute. And it didn't happen just a few times, but every single time. We went from getting 4-5 stickers a day on the first few days to 3, then 2, then 1, then yesterday and today, 0. Sure, part of that is because we left the house more after the first few days, in which he'd go in his pull ups, but mostly, he was just peeing all over the place. Marty and I talked about it, and we both think he just doesn't listen to his body. He doesn't understand the feeling of needing to pee. A few times, he'd seem surprised and cry "Oh oh oh poop!!!" as he was peeing his underpants. We're not sure if he felt the urge to poop or if he was confusing pee or poop or confusing the feelings.

The final straw happened this morning. We were having a lazy Sunday, Marty was out running, and Oliver and I were hanging out. We'd already had a few accidents that day. Oliver was in his high chair coloring. Before I put him in the chair I asked if he needed to go pee in the potty. "No." I checked on his dryness occasionally as he colored. About 20 minutes later, he was suddenly done coloring. I picked him up out of the chair only to find that he had peed in it. A lot. Ok, I understand, he was engrossed in coloring. So I put him on the potty, where he pees some more, get him all cleaned up and settled with toys while I clean the chair and run upstairs to put the highchair cover in the laundry. I come back down to him sitting quietly on the couch. He got up when I came in, and I saw that he had peed again, on the couch. That was the third accident in an hour, because he had another one right before Marty left.

That was it. I slapped on a diaper and called it done. I wanted to enjoy the rest of my Sunday, and not be in what was feeling more and more like a constant battle. Sure, I beat myself up a bit over this. I was feeling pretty much like a failure as a mom. I can't even teach my kid to pee? But I taught him his ABCs! And to count to 20 (sort of)! Why can't I do this? What did I do wrong? It started off so well, or was I just trying to convince myself of that? Did he feel my frustration? Did I not explain it right? Should I have said wee wee and doody instead of pee and poop? Did I not buy enough equipment? Did I get the wrong book or DVD? Was the Sesame Street theme just a little over the top (by the way, I found SS underpants. I didn't buy them.)? Was it because I didn't get the Sesame Street underwear and he had to settle for Thomas?


Everyone tells me that when they are ready, they are ready, and it won't be so hard or frustrating. That they get it in a matter of days. So we're packing away the underpants and going back to diapers. I like diapers. Diapers are easy. We'll still sit him on the potty now and then and encourage him to listen to his body. But it's going to be very low key. We'll come back to it in a few months. I keep reading that with boys, waiting closer to age three often brings quick success. Or, as one friend said, "Three is the new two for potty training."

I'm a good mom, not a failure. It was simply that he wasn't ready. And if they aren't ready, it just isn't going to happen, and there's nothing anyone can do to change that. So that's what I learned today.


  1. I needed this today. Today is only our first "hard core" day, and it's already a ver nasty WWIII around here. With MDO 2x/wk starting tomorrow.... I think this is a battle it's just not time to fight. (No matter what the g-parent's are saying.) xoxox Hugs, mom. You're doing great.

  2. Your experience sounds very similar to mine, we had great progress at first, but now nothing but "no!" and no stickers since Monday. I have also decided to just let it go for a while, and like you said, it really shouldn't be this hard. As much as we are ready, they aren't. My son is 27 months old, and I'll just keep waiting I guess:) Thanks for your's nice to know when we aren't alone!