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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Anytime Potty Training

Middle-of-the-night potty training is not made brighter by the
blinding colors of inane children books.
I tackle this topic reluctantly (can you tackle something with reluctance?) But as I was falling asleep on the bathroom floor at 4 a.m. the other morning I realized there are certain things to be aware of when potty training.

The chief among these is “let the kid go when she wants to go.” Unfortunately, that meant for me getting tackled (no reluctance) at 4 a.m. by a little girl wanting to use the potty. It was my night to be “middle-of-the-night parent,” so after rolling out of bed onto my knees I tackled my fatherly duties (reluctance.)
Escorting her to the bathroom, I found out she didn’t actually have to go. She just wanted to break a little wind while I read her inane book after inane book. Being confronted by a sunny, happy pile of Care Bear and Strawberry Shortcake books in the middle of the night is only a slight upgrade from waking up with a kink in your neck, a massive headache and a toothpick doused in cinnamon oil in your eye — don’t ask me how I know this.*

After 20 minutes of reading the lousiest trash I’ve ever read accompanied by pictures so bright they’d make an owl lose its night vision, I finally left the princess to her own devices on her pearly white throne. On the tile floor — at least it’s heated — I rolled into a fetal position and balled up my daughter’s silky pink blanket for a pillow.

Just as I got comfortable, an indignant shout roused me. “Daddy! You forgot to read that one!” My eyes fluttered open to see an accusing, miniature finger pointing at the last Care Bear book on the once sizable unread-potty-book pile.

That’s when I decided she was done tootin’ on the potty for the night. Motivated by sheer hatred for Love-A-Lot Bear, I plucked my daughter off the porcelain and paraded her back to her bedroom.

After this definitive action, I was sure to have peace the rest of the night. Until she wanted water, of course. Her shouts for water soon woke up her brother, who shares a bedroom with her. So when I rushed back downstairs to literally pour water on the shouting fire, I was welcomed by my son wandering out of the room. Through a thick haze, he said, “Daddy, her wants water.”

“Oh, great,” I said, not unaware of her loud desire for liquid.

I ended up spending the rest of the night awake with my kids, the whole time wishing to be asleep. They didn’t seem to share the sentiment. All because of potty training. The good news is that the porcelain princess is making impressive progress. The fact we are willing to drop anything to let her use the bathroom has made it possible for her to see how easy it can be and how important it is.

We started potty training only a couple weeks ago, and she is already sleeping dry through most nights, and makes it through most days without accidents. I find many of the accidents that do occur happen when she and I are in the throes of wrestling or some other full-attention activity. She just forgets she needs to go when she’s having fun.

She doesn’t, as you might have guessed, forget when it happens in the middle of the night. I get woken up at all hours to escort her to Pottyville. For me, this usually means sleepless nights while she thinks of every excuse in the book to get out of going back to sleep.

After a particularly trying potty experience at 2:30 the other morning, she came up to our room after two separate trips asking for water and her blankie to tell me she had a boogie on her finger she needed wiped off. I laughed despite being dead tired.

“You seriously came all the way up here to tell me that?” I asked.

“Yes,” came the timid reply, her eyes downcast.

I took care of the problem and sent her packing. She stopped in the doorway of our room and stood there for a few long moments, as if not sure she wanted to leave. After staring at her feet and then me for a while, she finally asked, “Daddy? Can I have rock-a-byes?”

The cuteness was just too much. I took her down to our comfy recliner where I cuddled the night away with my beautiful little potty-trained daughter.

As much as I hate some of the inconvenience of letting her go when she wants to, it has been miraculous to see how much just letting her go when she asks has helped. And for three short months until we meet our next daughter, this house will be gloriously diaper free.

*If you must know, I’ve experienced the kinked neck and headache, but only have an overactive imagination to consult on the toothpick.

What's your favorite potty training trick?

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