Ready or Not

Lev is clearly in the zone where toilet training is beginning to be possible: he sits on his little potty regularly, and also pees in it if the timing happens to be serendipitous. He will also trot the liner of his little potty over to the big potty, dump in the pee, and flush it down with great glee and self-congratulation. I was idly planning to wait until it gets warm and then follow the directions for a “weekend of potty training” once or twice … i.e. let the kid run around naked (or at least diaperless) outside all day and direct him to potty when accidents happen. Reports say that it doesn’t take many days of this exercise before kids catch on. I’d probably have to borrow Tanya’s backyard for the exercise, since we don’t have one of our own and I don’t want to traipse with a potty around the neighborhood accompanied by a bare-bummed baby. I’m shameless but not that shameless.

I also naively commented that I’d potty train Lev when he could take his pants and diaper off by himself. It didn’t occur to me that when he learned, he might want to strip off his pants and diaper for reasons other than using the toilet. Lo and behold, he has in fact learned, at least how to peel off his diaper, and when his pants have reasonably loose elastic, also how to push them down. Pants with zippers and snaps or buttons can still be closed sufficiently tightly he cannot pry them off, but I sense this is only a temporary reprieve. Sure enough, his primary interest in shedding his clothes is not private bathroom hygiene. He just likes to hang loose, as it were. Preferably while scampering all around the house and yelling.

And once he has a taste of this privilege, he doesn’t want to give it up. Attempts to re-diaper him are met with screams of protest and indignation. So suddenly potty training is no longer a “maybe later; possibly soon” kind of task, but a clear and immediate necessity.

However, this new state of affairs has one advantage. I have read in baby books that potty training is one of the more difficult parental tasks exactly because the baby has no stake in it. Unlike learning to eat, walk, or climb, they don’t derive any particular benefit from their effort — its only the parent’s life that is improved, not the baby’s. So it is a useful development that Lev seems to have taken a personal interest, if not in the advantages of continence itself, at least in the privileges that accrue from that achievement. So, for example, merely threatening to re-diaper him will cause him to run to the potty, sit on it, and pee, as if to say “look mommy, I can handle diaperless life! Don’t take it away from me!” It remains to be seen if this will be enough inducement to get us through the whole process. I’ve heard the books warn that no matter how you do it, you won’t get away without a few messes; I’ve already been christened with baby pee a few times. Oh well: potty training, ready or not, here we come!