Till your child is toilet-trained, you feel no qualms about discussing chhee-chhee topics in public, without even bothering as to when your companions last saw the inside of a diaper. So, that should explain the presence of this post on such a dignified forum. Kindly excuse me, please. But, my obsession with social media tells me that toilet-training is indeed one of the most important concerns bothering parents everywhere.
A friend recently messaged me asking, what I am doing to make my son go in the right place, with the exact aim and the perfect sense of time. Another is distressing over how her daughter’s potty seat had to be strategically covered with Goa’s beach sand to keep it from driving away the tourists, even as the little one insisted that here, and here alone, she will go potty (I don’t blame her. She has scenic taste, I say). And a few days back, when a friend from school shouted out to me for tips and tricks, I promised her this post.
Basically, the moment the clock strikes the 2nd year, the cuckoo comes out to say – Hey you, start worrying about the poop, before it hits the roof. Here is what I did to earn myself the ‘My kid is toilet-trained certificate’ at 2 years and 4 months. Before anything else, please remember, there is nothing in this post which can be remotely called ‘expert advice’. It is my experience of my child’s excretory system and discovering how certain sphincters have a mind of their own, which, even a parent cannot understand or tame before the right time. That right time too differs, from child-to-child and situation-to-circumstance. I will tell you what path I followed, that’s all. And I will try keeping the stink-n-sound effects away. Here goes:
For those who have just delivered their bundles, this is for you. At this stage, most of the times, it is quite predictable when the baby will do it, or do both. And they do it all too often. I kept my baby in cotton nappies till 4 months, during which time, I used to hold him from behind his knees, rest his back against my body/legs and hang him over a little bucket sacrificed for this purpose alone. So, the nappies usually remained dry and the stuff was home-delivered, where I wanted it to be. It even helped with making him do it to its entirety, since a wet nappy makes them stop short of completion, often. It also helped with getting that baby gas out and keeping Colicaid at bay.
By a few months down, I could discern signs of when he wanted to go. This is important. All children give out signs of when they need to use the toilet. You must have figured some out. Now, even after diapers were introduced, I continued the same way of “hanging” him over the flush when I caught the signal. It is not always easy to find one at hand, and especially difficult to make it to one in time. But to myself, I always imagined that there is no diaper in place, just so that I can run him to the nearest station when the train is about to arrive and not feel lazy. It helped. For as he grew up, he started using his diaper less and less, because his mind never had the concept of pee-poo absorption in his cushioned rompers. Of course, the superfast trains arrive at great speeds and then you thank Man for inventing solid diapers. But at all other times, the hanging helped.
When they start crawling, things get complicated. This one never bothered to crawl, so my carpets and durries know not what it is to be sprayed upon. But when he started standing with support, I knew that his mobility meant my mind had to march on the double to figure out nature’s phone call times. But then, a child who is over a year old is catching on to vocabulary with the speed of light. It is at this point that basic words for the toilet (both types) need to be taught. Apart from all those mushy firsts which begin with ‘mama’ and end with ‘papa’, teach opposites/associations like hot, cold, sleep, hunger, thirst, hurt and yes, poo-poo.
You will be amazed to see how early on children can learn to tell you if the bath water is too cold, or the pee-pee on its way. It helps, because vocalizing only makes things easier for later. At my end, the hanging continued. So much so, he used to wake me up at 2 am to take him pee-pee, even as daddy’s snores lulled him back to sleep in no time. Of course I cursed the bucket and the habit-of-it-all on when being woken up from my Richard Gere dreams. But gradually, as I saw myself disposing worn but unused diapers at the end of the day or night, I felt promoted to a higher rung in the hallowed Department of Toilet Training. I was still not saving enough pocket-money, but quite pleased with the scheme of things.
Going on, once the child learns to put his mind into words, make a bee line to the potty-seat shop and get one. Start side-lining the diapers already, and remember to look for seats which are high on comfort and hygiene and low on fancy stickers. I did get one too, but it remains unused to this day. He liked to hang around, this lazy bum! Which meant that I had to get him to start sitting on the flush soon! He was growing up and my back was feeling the effect from all the hanging, especially since I always wanted to defeat the diapers at their job every time he wanted to do his, every half-hour sometimes.
When push came to shove, even as diapers remained clean, he refused the potty-seat and my back continued over-worked, it was time to fast-forward things. Here is what was done when he was, doctor-wise, ready to be trained. What follows is a weekend job I picked from a parenting site and discussed with his doctor. I had been doing all of the above for 2 years, which was my mother’s original hand-me-down wisdom and technique (and which I might get patented for its sheer ingenuity.) Perhaps, with that background, what follows worked for me:
- My husband and I promised ourselves a sit-in weekend. Cancelled all plans and told friends we are out-of-town.
- We put our son in old pajamas sans diapers, removed all things which would hate to get wet in case of accidents and simply sat around and played with him.
- We gave him that wee bit of extra liquids just to invite the pee-pee more often than usual.
- And soon as he gave us a signal, no matter how subtle the sign, we would rush him to the pot and make him do it in there, only.
By the second day, going potty was a game the family played together. And by the third day, the existence of diapers had vanished from our lives even as daddy dear went to office and mumma did the on-pot-off-pot alone. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but perhaps the idea of making a game out of toilet-training and something that 2 whole holidays revolved around helped his bum warm up to the idea of doing it the adult way. It is worth a try with your bundle too. After all, even if he does not understand the mighty benefits on his family’s savings by getting rid of those diapers, you still have had a weekend-in of playing blocks, colouring, peek-a-boo and going poo – all at the same time.
And there! The class is over. My son will never forgive me for showing him in this light. I will worry about that later. For now, I hope I have been able to drop some tips on how to train those naughty bums. Remember, they all fall in line. We did too, once upon a time. Relax. And coming to think of it, who wouldn’t want to philosophize on the pot surrounded with golden sands and watching the sun go down? Lucky girl!
Happy Toilet Training to you!
Sakshi Nanda went from studying Literature to serving the print media and finally settling with two publishing houses who called her editor for a couple of hard-bounds, no more! She writes as a work-from-home mother to realize herself as well as to be read, both – with her 2-year-old boy and her sarkari babu beau as the greatest source of ideas and inspiration. She believes eating baby food is therapeutic and that the pen is man’s best invention, after diapers that is! Meet her at: sakshinanda.blogspot.in