Tonight, I put our last diaper on my son.
He’s been using the potty successfully for weeks now; since the end of May, more or less, though I’ve been hesitant to write about it because, hey, I don’t tempt fate – the second I get too cocky about it is the second he turns around and decides he actually kind of misses not having to get up to use the potty and missing the end of Peppa Pig, and boom, he’s made a liar out of me and we’re back to square one.
But it’s been long enough now that I feel confident saying it – our son is potty trained. He can tell us he needs to use the potty, he can hold it a reasonable amount of time (should we be out and about, away from an immediately viable toilet), and he can wash and dry his hands more-or-less independently afterwards.
In fact, he recently started peeing “like a MAN!” (his words), which has been great, in that lifting him up and having to basically hold him on the toilet when were are anywhere other than home (and away from his Elmo potty adapter seat) has gotten increasingly difficult as he’s gotten increasingly bigger. It’s also a disaster that has resulted in a lot of internal screaming as I watch him touch public toilet seats to steady himself mid-stream, and one bathroom at home that just, like, has a sheen of pee on it. Just, a fine misting of pee, airbrushed on the walls. You know, for a gloss effect.
While he’s actually been night-dry for longer than he’s been day-dry, last week saw a run of three or four night where he had nightmares, two of which resulted in a wet bed, so we decided, more to give our washer a rest than anything else, we’d put him in diapers at night. I mean, we still had some left – not enough to be a viable gift or donation, but far too many to throw away – so we might as well use them.
And tonight I used the last one.
There was a long stretch of time where I was terrified I was never going to get Bear potty-trained- I was honestly afraid he’d be walking into first grade still in pull-ups. And I felt like it was going to be my fault.
I have trouble regulating my own needs – I forget to eat, forget to shower, stay up way later than I should because I get sucked into these rabbit holes of Special Interests and General Bullcrap and totally lose track of time – and here I was reading articles about how to potty train your kids by literally taking sitting them on the potty every fifteen minutes essentially around the clock (with a scheduled night-time potty trip where I’d have to wake my child up, are you friggin kidding me??)
But even barring my neuro issues, and even barring the super intense three-day potty training regime, I didn’t know how I would ever be able to implement a regular enough schedule to successfully train him. I work, as does my husband. My mom, who watches my son while my husband and I work, wanted to support our potty training efforts, but she’s physically impaired, and also cares for between two and four other kids during the day. She’s capable of caring for my son and keeping him safe, but there was no way she’d be able to devote the time needed to keep up whatever potty-training regime we conjured up.
But you know what we could do, and did do? We made the potty accessible – it was in the corner of the kitchen when we started, so he could get to it himself, without having to alert us or try to open the bathroom door by himself. We checked in with him every 20 or 30 or 45 minutes or so – we didn’t time it, just when it seemed to make sense – and offered him the potty. And in the morning, every morning, we sat him on it.
And what do you know? At some point it clicked. At some point, he started telling us, albeit it generally as pee trickled down his leg, that he needed the potty. I mean, there was a learning curve, but hey, it was progress. He was getting somewhere.
And after that, it was almost like a switch flipped. Suddenly, he was sick of sitting in wet, dirty diapers – he wanted to use the potty. That’s something that was so, so key – he wanted to make this change, and when he wanted it, all we had to do was make it accessible for him and encourage and praise him for it. Our actual, direct involvement, was quite minimal, honestly.
And so tonight we put him in our last diaper. Probably the last great milestone of the pre-school years – he can already walk and talk, he can dress himself (more or less), he grabs and totally unpeels his own Babybel cheeses, and he opens and inserts the straw into his own juice boxes. My husband and I will soon be rendered obsolete.
It’s a sweet moment. I spend so, so much time marveling how this amazing little person could possibly be the same tiny potato I brought home from the hospital less than four years ago who relied on me for literally everything – everything – just to survive.
But right now, I’m mostly marveling at not having to scrape poop off a screaming pre-schooler’s butt anymore. That’s pretty sweet, too.