FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2012
I wrote a post on Aiming Low a while back about my concerns surrounding the prospect of potty training the twins (19 months old at the time)–something I thought was going to start happening within a few months of its publication. I got scores of suggestions from readers about how to approach the process, and most of them stressed the importance of waiting until the kids were ready. Only a few recommended books or videos. They made it sound like it was something that would just happen, that we simply needed to support and encourage the kids along the way.And here we are, a mere year after I wrote that post, just starting to get into potty training in earnest.
Back when I wrote about potty training the first time, I have to admit that I felt a little competitive. Part of me wanted my kids to be out of diapers by the time they were two, so people would believe that they, and their parents, were geniuses.
Then I started thinking about it more practically. I looked at all of the disgusting public places that I would have to take them to do their business, realized that some of our favorite playgrounds have no restrooms at all, and thought about the potential trauma (to me mostly) of taking two little girls into men’s rooms. Would we all cram into one filthy stall? Would I let one of them roam around among the urinating creeps while I dangled the other over the skanky toilet, waiting for her to pee as my spine slowly collapsed? Changing diapers on a park bench suddenly seemed not so horrible.
So we read them cute little potty books, let them watch the Elmo potty video, furnished both the bathrooms with potties, and waited for the kids to be ready. A few months ago, there was a little flurry of potty usage, and then they lost interest. But now, as they say, It Is On. We’ve been staying at home more than usual, the kids running around either in “nekkid guy” mode or in their undies; and using the potty has become the central activity.
It’s pretty exciting. We’ve gone two days now with no diapers (except when they’re sleeping), and no accidents. (I know: I just jinxed myself with that bit of hubris.)
I’m still blown away by the idea that kids do this willingly. I mean, obviously most children get potty trained somehow or another. Even terrible parents have kids who know how to use the bathroom. Still, I half expected to encounter complete resistance to the idea. I should know better by now, but I’m skeptical every time they approach a developmental milestone. Not long ago it seemed inconceivable that they would walk or talk.
But one of the reasons they’re so eager to adapt to the societal expectations regarding poop is the same reason they’re breaking their old man’s heart: avarice. On the advice of a lot of reliable sources, we’ve started rewarding them with candy. Peeing in the potty earns them a Skittle. Pooping is good for an M&M Easter egg. This might not sound like much, but they haven’t had a lot of candy before. Baked goods, sure, but not the shiny, colorful little sugar pellets we now have displayed in jars in the bathrooms.
I fear they will stop at nothing to acquire it.
They have become greedy little candy fiends. Within just a few days, they’ve trained themselves to release short bursts of urine into the potty every ten minutes or so, to maximize their access to the rainbow of fruit flavors throughout the day.
Up until now, they had hardly ever tried to deceive us, as far as I know. When asked who made a mess or broke something, they would cheerfully drop dimes on themselves. When they wanted something, they asked nicely or they screamed, with varying results. But given this new world of commerce, there are ways they can game the system, including outright grift. When they can no longer squeeze any currency out of their bladders, they simply sit on the potty seat over the grownup toilet, where it’s hard to tell if they’ve actually produced anything, and lie right to my face. “I peed!” they shout with glee, even though they just did so two minutes earlier.
If only we could isolate the traits from each age that we wanted to preserve, and move past the unpleasant ones. I love that the girls are more independent now, and it will be great when I don’t have to be so involved with their bodily functions. But it saddens me to see them catching on to the potential benefits of deception, like little flimflam artists or Fortune 500 CEOs.
I’m afraid they’ve got me on the ropes. I’ve accused them of lying, only to find droplets of evidence that they were telling the truth, which makes me feel guilty. But I’m sure I’ve been scammed out of way more Skittles than I have withheld unrightfully; and as they’re becoming more devious, I’m becoming less vigilant. At least they haven’t duped me into giving them the premium treats reserved for pooping, try as they might. That’s much easier to verify.