Adventures in potty-training

A smell hung in the air. I looked at Sawyer.

‘Did you poopy?’


A quick check of his ‘big boy’ underwear. It was true: He was accident-free. Just gas. But when it comes to pre-schoolers in potty training, extra-smelly gas is like an orange construction-zone sign by the road : It often signals trouble ahead.

Nonetheless, I didn’t act. And sure enough, two minutes later, his shorts were wet, and there was a gnarled, hard, brown, golf-ball-sized nugget in those ‘big boys.’

Nice one, dad.

As a punishment of sorts, I also found myself cleaning extra-small pooplets off the floor that had somehow escaped from the pack. Oops — I guess his underwear might be a little too loose-fitting.

After I changed him, I gave him a quiz:

‘When you have to pee-pee, where do you go?’

‘In the potty.’

‘When you have to poopy, where do you go?’

‘In the potty.’

‘Even when you don’t want to, where do you go pee-pee and poopy?’

He paused. This required some real thought.

‘In my underwear and in my pants.’ So I guess we’re good in the honesty department, but still a work-in-progress in the potty department.


Setbacks aside, Sawyer is coming along pretty well in his transition to a diaper-less existence. He’s announcing his urges even when he’s playing, and he’s showing an increasing ability to hold it for the long haul when necessary.

Potty training can be a nasty business. But there’s an obvious payoff: Potty-training misadventures produce some of the funniest moments parenting has to offer.

One day, I looked on proudly as he stood on his red stool and a well-aimed stream hit with a cheerful tinkle in the bowl below. My pride morphed to horror as I saw an object emerge — somehow both slowly and with lightning speed — from the other side. It landed with a thud on the bathroom floor, still warm and glistening.

Today, Sawyer dutifully announced he had to pee, then, in a show of persistence and independence, wrestled his diaper to his ankles on his own and took care of business. As any reasonable father would, I figured it was really, really, really close to bath time anyway, so I was in no rush to replace that diaper with any undergarment (or pants) of any kind. Previously, this risk has turned out to be a bad bet. Luckily he’s always hit the tile.

This time, after 90 minutes passed without a bath, Sawyer announced his intentions again and took off for the bathroom. Jen and I marveled at our good fortune.

And there’s this important lesson: When he does manage to get a number-two to its proper destination, we are never, ever, under any circumstances, to flush it ourselves. If we do, we’ve done his job, and he will fly into a rage. We have disposed of his trophy. And he and only he is permitted to dispose of his trophy.

Apparently, there is nothing more satisfying to a two-year-old than seeing his own waste swirl down to the bottom of a toilet bowl, as he says, as if to a friend leaving on a cruise, ‘Bye-bye, poopy!’

Soon, the diapers will go the way of the Dr. Brown’s baby bottles, the breast pump, the onesies. The first reaction will be relief and triumph. No more messes, no more accidents, no more butt cream, no more searching for sales on pull-ups.

But eventually, when a flush is just a flush, I know I’ll want to hear that joyful, ‘Bye-bye, poopy’ just one more time.








Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s