Particularly when our children are very young, there are plenty of exciting milestones for parents to celebrate. We celebrate the first smile, the first step, the first word. When they’re a little older, we celebrate when they learn to read, when they learn to ride a bike, when they learn to drive a car. When they become young adults, we celebrate when they graduate from high school and from college, when they get married, when they have children of their own. Each milestone is satisfying and exciting. But there is perhaps no developmental milestone quite so satisfying, quite so exciting, quite so freeing, quite so worthy of celebration, as potty training.
For the past five years, diapers, pull-ups, diaper pails, and the wiping of small bottoms have been an integral part of my life. I had to deal with other people’s bodily fluids multiple times a day, every day. I was at the biological beck and call, so to speak, of my children. But this week, I am able to officially declare that our family is a complete family of underpants-wearers!
I do not declare this fact lightly. I took on the task of intense potty-training my youngest child about a month ago, during her February break from preschool. She spent the entire week running around free of diapers, pull-ups, and underpants, happily “bare-bummed.” Every hour, I would call her to come sit on the potty. Each time, we would slowly count to ten as she did a “try.” Sometimes we’d reach ten without any action. But other times, we’d both open our eyes wide as we heard the unmistakable sound of peeing. And then her face would blossom into a wide grin of excitement, pride, and wonder, and she would giggle with delight. And so would I. We’d high-five each other, sing Daniel Tiger’s song reminding her to “flush and wash and be on your way,” and then I’d reward her with a piece of candy.
As the days wore on, we’d venture a bit further into the world of “big girl underpants.” Santa had put a few pairs of Disney princess underpants in her stocking (he was apparently as eager to get the pull-ups out of our house as I was), but we obviously needed a few more pairs, so we went to the store and she got to pick out some new underpants, opting for the “My Little Pony” collection. Then we were ready for our maiden underpants outing. We went to the grocery store, doing a “try” right before and checking several times during the trip to see if she needed to go again. We made it home with dry pants. She had an accident less than an hour later, but we made it through our outing accident-free. Celebrate!
After a few more days of practicing wearing underpants without pants around the house and then underpants with pants, we were ready to try a day at school. I warned her teachers and asked them to encourage her to go during the day. I packed extra pants just in case, but she made it through without an accident. Again, she had one after we got home, but it was a minor setback. Celebrate! Later that week, she went to her gymnastics class wearing underpants under her leotard. I was a bit nervous when a try at home and one at the gym right before class produced nothing, but she made it through class dry and clean – and then made it through the rest of the day at home with no accidents. Celebrate!
But the real trial came this past weekend when my husband and I attended a two-day conference spanning Friday evening and Saturday all day, and the kids had a sleepover with friends. Luckily, one of their kids is at about the same stage of potty-training as my daughter, so the parents were unfazed at the thought of possible accidents and were more than willing to risk an accident or two. I wasn’t sure how her training would be affected by a different, although familiar, house, and an unfamiliar potty. I needn’t have worried: my daughter was fascinated by the thought of using a different potty and not only did she not have any accidents, she hardly needed to be reminded to use the potty, but ran in herself whenever she needed to go. Celebrate!
And so, I am boldly declaring that my house is now a diaper-free zone (at least during the day). And I am ready to celebrate!