You Don't Need No Diapers

Potty Training.

That word strikes fear in the hearts of moms everywhere especially at the end of summer when we are attempting to get our kid into preschool (our LAST kid into preschool and we really really really need the respite time of all kids in school, you know?).

No matter your kid, or his/her age, the concept of making them go pee somewhere they really don’t want to go is just insane.

Even worse, there is an unwritten rule somewhere in mommy-dom that makes you think by your child’s 3rd birthday the diapers should be replaced with cute little underpants colorfully printed with famous cartoon characters.

If your son isn’t sporting Blues Clues underpants by 3, you are pretty much a Potty Training Failure.

I was.

All three times.

Gabriel really wasn’t the worst at potty training. And although I learned after he was potty trained about SPD and how truly amazing it was that he was potty trained, including dry through the night as well as the ever-important-status-symbol of cartoon underwear by 3 ½, I was exhausted because it took me 18 months for that to happen.

Yes, mommy potty training nightmare.

I had a two things working against me:

New Baby

The double whammy of potty training.

Gabriel was totally on track to be potty trained by 2 ½. Crazy as it may seem, I was buying into all of those moms out there (*cough* girl moms) who have panty-clad two year olds on the potty.

But this was my first child. And you know that with your first child you have read all of the books (no doubt based in Italian) and you totally know what you are doing.

So Gabriel was doing great.

Enter Nick.

Baby Nicholas was a shock to Gabriel’s system.

Gabriel indicated this on the day Nicholas was born by throwing up all over the delivery room.

Thankfully we were at a hospital and apparently if you throw up on the triage nurse you get priority care. We quickly found out he had an ear infection, probably the 10th of the year, for which he was quickly medicated. But I am pretty sure the throwing up at Nick’s mere presence was an omen.

When we brought the darling and terribly huge baby home, Gabriel didn’t direct his frustration (or confusion as the case may be) towards Nick, but towards the toilet.

We had a perfectly crafted control battle brewing.

And for the first time in my life, I think I lost in the Control Arena. A monumental moment in history for sure—I was, up until then, the Control Queen.

But that small child changed that…or modified it….a little. Really.

Whenever I put Nick on my breast to nurse (which I did every 30 minutes for 45 minutes plus a bottle for three months!!) Gabriel would walk up to the couch where I was sitting and squat down and pop his underpants.


Finally, I let him do it, and then had him clean it up (technically, help me, but it was his responsibility).

He hated that, but apparently hated me nursing Nicholas worse, so we did this little dance for months before I put him back into pull ups feeling like a complete Potty Training Loser.

Gabriel always had the pee thing down, and we were constantly talking about “listening to your body” but in retrospect god only knows what his body was saying because I am pretty sure the message “I have to poop” was being ignored.

Although I have to say that pooping on command is a talent that few poses.

By the time Gabriel was 3 ½ and had been in preschool with peers that used the toilet, we were able to transition from pooping in underpants to pooping in the more traditional (and a lot less messy) toilet.

Then it was Nick’s turn to use the toilet.

Since Gabriel was *almost* potty trained by 2 ½ and I desperately wanted Nick in preschool so he could talk nonstop to someone else part of the day, I convinced myself to enroll Nick for the Fall *before* he turned 3.

Again, some of those damn panty-clad girls peeing in the toilet at 2 made me think that somehow the Y chromosome wasn’t strong enough to keep me from having two kids (with an infant at home) from going to preschool.


I bought the damn little toilet, and guess what?

Nick’s butt was too big.


He couldn’t get his penis and his butt over the whole at the same time.

Which ruled out the “Little Potty” pretty quickly.

Nick used it as a step stool to play in the sink. Which Gabriel thought was cool, so he happily used it to stand on as well. And you know what? Matt seemed to think it was a great stool too. Too bad it was a $25 stool instead of the IKEA $2 ones. But hey, they did get a lot of use out of that potty-turned-stool. *sigh*

Nick wanted nothing to do with the toilet.

He wanted even less to do with me telling him what to do, or god forbid trying to *teach* him something. From day one, Nick has known everything and trying to prove otherwise has been futile.

That September deadline for school came and went with the blink of an eye and Nicholas was no closer to potty training than he was to being drafted by the Chiefs.

One week, almost to the day, before his 3rd birthday he arrived in my room on a Saturday morning—naked—carrying a wet diaper from the night before.

“Here Mom. I don’t need diapers anymore. I can use the toilet whenever I want.” He announced as if stating the obvious for Jeff and I.

OK Nick.

And he did.

He had one accident, since he insisted on going “commando”, that day in the kitchen.

“My belly hurts.” He said.

“You probably have to poop, honey, go sit on the toilet.” I responded to my not-quite-three-year-old-know-it-all.

“No. It isn’t a poop.” He insisted with assurance.

“I think it might be.” I gently push.

Poop starts coming out the bottom of his pajama pants and landing in chunks on the ground.

“OH! You were right. It is a poop!” He exclaimed with new found enthusiasm.

You think I remember that because it was a potty training story, right?


I remember that because it was the first time he told me I was right. *sigh*

But that was it for Nick and potty training. He stayed clean and dry, through the day, and through the night—even after getting the flu the week after his birthday and having diarrhea—it all made it to the toilet. What a proud moment. The total was two little control freaks (just like their mother). : )

And now it is Matthew’s turn.

I tried to sign Matthew up for preschool last year before he was 3, but this time I had learned to ignore the *cough* girl mommies who had two year olds that used the toilet and focus on what Matthew actually was interested in and capable of.

He could use Jeff’s framing hammer to pound large nails into an apple without help.
He could unscrew bolts from walls without a wrench.
He could name all of his letters, shapes, and colors, plus some in Spanish.
He knew all of the Thomas characters by name, color and number.


He had zero interest, or maybe I should say negative interest, in the toilet.

Flash forward to age 3 ½.

Now all I can think is, “Damn Matt, your brothers were both potty trained by this age and to top it off, I’ve paid the deposit for preschool this year because you are almost 4!”

So I bought a chart.

He loved the magnets, but they didn’t help with the toilet.

We put cheerios in the toilet, because Matt is WAY tall enough to stand and pee, but he was upset. Which I should’ve seen coming because the one time we did that for Nick he cried that Daddy peed on his food. Priorities.

With September right around the corner, and me desperate to get Matt in school part time, because Nick will be in Kindergarten, FINALLY, this year, and I could technically get about 4 hours a week to myself, I began the potty conversation.

But it always seems to be one sided.

I used statements like, “We are going to sit on the potty.”

To which I got statements like, “NO.”

I figured when our family left (we have company from CA until 8/10) I would start the dedicated potty training system—yet to be determined—and get this child to pee on the potty. By god we don’t have much time before September.

Then he did it all on his own.

It was about ten days ago, and we had just pulled the boys out of the bath when I was attempting to put a pull up on Matthew.

“No! I don’t want a training pants.” Matthew says.

“OK,” I say confused, “Then what do you want?”


I looked at Jeff across the room and mouthed, “Go put the plastic cover on his bed fast!” and said to Matthew as calmly as possible, “OK.”

We put him in underpants.

He slept through the night.

And all morning.

And I was terrified that he has peed the bed and was sleeping in it.

But he woke up clean and dry.

No problems.

And he has every night since then.

What kid potty trains by being clean and dry at *night* first? That-a-boy!

We have had a few accidents, but he rides in the car, clean and dry, and goes to the playground, clean and dry (besides the one jungle pee we were forced to do…but that is another story).

Last night, we are all down stairs chatting it up with a friend when I realize Matt has disappeared. The other kids are still in the hot tub laughing and splashing.

“Matthew?” I yell up the stairs.

“Yes Mom.” He replies.

He is upstairs playing, I assume, because he loves to go to his room and read for long periods of time alone. He is JUST like my husband.

Then I see him come down stairs, butt naked.

He looks as proud as can be and says, “I pooped and peed in the toilet upstairs,”


He received applause from all of the adults.

Pooping was kind of an issue for us. He had never made it completely on the toilet—usually a little in his pants and then Jeff and I would scoop him up and put him on the toilet.

But he did it.

He felt it coming and put himself on the toilet pooped and peed.

Ok, he didn’t wipe or flush, but that is kind of bonus at this stage. *grin*

I am so very proud to say that Matthew is officially potty trained.

And I am so incredibly excited to say ALL THREE BOYS ARE GOING TO SCHOOL!

What does all of this mean?

I think it just means what we have already known—each kid is different, whether they have SPD or an ASD or are “neurotypical”. Every kid is going to potty train at their own speed and on their own terms.

Now if you have one of those darling panty-clad 18 month old girls that has taught herself to use the toilet, life might be just that much easier for you. Us boy-moms have a slightly different path.

In my experience, potty training isn’t all rewards and stickers –there is no chart in the world that can make them go faster or earlier. Wait—maybe the Dreaded Wheel of Consequences would be a good one to try. ; )

You don't need no diapers, you can use the potty!


Dawnwick said...

Potty training is a huge adventure. My first two girls trained at age 2. #3 girl didn't train until she was almost 5! #4 girl is 3 & sometimes will go "pee-pee" in the potty, but yet has to go "poo-poo."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh this evening!!! It was great seeing all of you today. I wish I knew how to get our boys together more. Damn my job! - Tammy

Caeseria said...

Oh, thank you so much for the laugh! And for making me feel better - my son's coming up on 2 and 3/4 and no where near toilet trained. He will tell me "Me stool!" when he's had a bowel movement, he enjoys flushing the toilet, he will sit naked on his potty chair and be read to, but he has no wish to actually go IN it. Thank you for reminding me there is light at the end of the tunnel eventually.