Potty training: the epic journey.
I wrote the first half of this post on August 18th, and the second just today (September 28th) but I wanted to include the initial post that I never finished because it shows how things can progress over time and I don’t want to lose the description of what things were like only a month ago.
Oh potty training. My dear, daily companion. Repeating questions like “do you need to go pee pee” and statements like “big boys go pee pee in the potty” and “no no, pee pee doesn’t go on the ground, it goes in the potty” while grabbing my handy roll of paper towel and carpet cleaner is enough to make me by a pack of Disney Princess pull-ups and forget the whole thing until they’re… oh… 18. Someone in their dorm would show them the ropes probably right?
Let me start off by saying I had intentions to do this earlier. I believe kids can be potty trained young and have seen it happen. Sort of. At least I’ve been told by my parents’ generation that they all did it with their kids (us). Though I can’t say I’ve actually seen it happen with any of my moms friends. Some of them start around a year and a half like I did (we actually bought the potties and taught them the signs for bathroom stuff before that) but none of them seem to finish until after two or even three.
I’m trying to figure out why that is. I mean, I can guess why, because potty training a kid who has gaps in their communication abilities and whose favourite activity is exerting their own will can totally suck. Most days I feel like I should have done Elimination Communication with them as babies (which I couldn’t have done with twins anyways unless no one in our house wanted clean clothes or cooked food) or just wait until they’re three and bribe them with chocolate chips…
That was then, this is now, over a month later and still going.
Only some things have changed. Very. slowly.
Most mornings if we are at home we will change them from their cloth diapers (yes, we have managed to somehow be one of the few who can use cloth diapers at night without leaks. This is a recent development within the last 9 months but now we don’t have any disposables in the house at all. It’s been cool) into their big kid underwear which they stay in for breakfast, playing, YouTube video watching (gasp. more on that later) and whatever else we do before leaving the house. As much as possible, no matter how many pairs of underwear we go through, I try not to break down and put diapers back on unless we are leaving or they are going for a nap.
This is not always easy. Some days they do so well, telling me they have to pee, or finding the potty themselves, or willingly sitting on it while reading or watching videos on J’s computer. And that’s one of the main purposes of the videos: they love them so much that it keeps them in one room, in one area and even sometimes sitting right on their potty. I also prefer cleaning up accidents on J’s plastic office chair floor mat than on the carpet. Sorry, honey.
The real wrench in the system is the underwear. They like to pick them out and wear them but they can’t/don’t remember to take them off to go. So they either end up not making it because they are so sidetracked by the undies, or they just go sit down with them on and go in spite of them. In the latter case I don’t even mention it, I just praise them as though the undies weren’t involved. No point in complicating the matter.
And that’s kind of what I feel like underwear has done, complicated things. I have more success with two streakers in the house than trying to train them clothed. But as this is in no way turning out to be a one day, or one week, or even one month process, I am not sure if that’s the right way to go. If they don’t learn how to deal with having to go while clothed it’s not a real helpful skill, is it?
But it’s not all bad. We have seen some serious progress. Soren almost always remembers when he isn’t wearing a diaper and though he may not make it there totally in time, he recognizes what is happening, where he needs to be and can often stop himself to get there. He’s really doing so well.
Marlow has been a bit more of a challenge. She will act like she has to go, even sit for awhile reading, then minutes after getting distracted and leaving she has a big accident. I basically have to be there to grab her and run or forget it.
They both tell me when they need to poop and if they do it in their diapers they want to be changed. Soren now dislikes it so much he won’t continue to play until I change him, which is a really good sign.
I have wanted to quit many times, and we’ve had days when we haven’t bothered. I think my belief that things like PottyTraining in a Day could work made me discouraged when they didn’t. But as I’m discovering, perhaps for us it is a longer process. Maybe they are suppose to learn a bit more every day and it’s not actually a pointless process. Considering they’ve had their diapers on every day of 99.9% of their lives, shifting to an entirely new skill in a day or two might be asking a lot.
But they have learned to do many other things over time and when I look back at videos of them I am reminded how far they have come. They can walk, run, help each other take off their shoes, use a spoon, open doors, reach the elevator button, buckle their own highchair buckles, sing songs, drink from a cup… and there was a time when I wasn’t sure if they would master these skills. So maybe it’s the same with this one. Maybe I just keep teaching them and they keep practicing and maybe giving them a little push here and there when we see they are ready and one day it’s a skill they have mastered.
I don’t know if this is right or not but I do know that I’m glad I haven’t quit yet. They won’t be potty trained by the time they are two like I hoped, and they might not be by the time the baby comes, but that’s okay. There’s no magic pill to make it so.
In the mean time we’ll just invest in carpet cleaner and some patience.