The time has come for us to see if the boy is ready for potty training. Everyone says wait until they are ready – but how do we know if he is ready? He isn’t likely to stand up and go through a ten minute PowerPoint presentation on the benefits of pants over nappies, so we had to go with our gut.
We started using the potty intermittently, and he took to it well, seemingly knowing when to go. For the next step we employed the characters of his favourite cartoon show – The Octonauts – to help with training him to wear pants and use the potty when he needed it.
The role of the Octonauts was simple. We purchased about 25 pairs of pants, all of which had one or more Octonauts characters on.
The plan was to say to the wee man that the character on the pants didn’t like getting wet, and so if he needed a wee, he should try doing it in the potty. This was my first mistake.
Anyone who knows of this show will realise that the Octonauts live and work underwater, so my rationale of them not getting wet was met by a suspicious and somewhat icy stare, coupled with a pretty half-hearted acknowledgment.
The descent of the Octonauts
The training started pretty well. We used the method of putting him on the potty every half an hour, and we set a timer to remind us that we needed to do it. A couple of hours went by; so far so good.
It wasn’t long before it went south however. Poor old Captain Barnacle was the first to go as the boy splurted out:
I looked down to see him holding his winky with the inevitable flow of liquid streaming down his bare legs.
Is he ready yet?
We sorted him out and had another two hours before another mistake. We fully expected a few patches here and there, and quickly got used to mopping the floor, but the red flags started to fly a little later.
I put some trousers on him which completely threw him off. In his pants, he knew that he could pull them down and go to on the potty… sometimes, but with his trousers on as well, he slipped back in to nappy mode, and didn’t even notice weeing in them.
The worst experience was later that night when I had to tell him off for a repeated offence. I stood him against the kitchen cupboard and with a sternish voice told him to stop doing what he was doing.
His face changed. He looked down with a sombre glare into nothingness, and once again grabbed his crotch. His look of shame as the fluid trickled down his leg onto the floor will remain with me for some time.
I was filled with guilt, and instantly started questioning our method and reasoning for trying to potty train him. It struck me that he could be weeing because he is getting a telling off, and all of the adoption fears that I harbour mixed with my guilt consumed me with a sickening notion that I had failed my son utterly, and for no feasible reason.
Back to nappies
Having discussed with a health professional, we tried a coupled more times but quickly realised that our son was not ready to be potty trained.
Once you volley a poo falling from your son’s nappy across the lounge, you realise you may be fighting a lost cause – at least for now.
Plain and simple – the boy has not developed the neurological sense of needing a wee; his bladder does not communicate with his brain, and until that relationship starts, there is no point in forcing the issue – it could do more harm than good.
We have now moved back to nappies and I have to admit that the boy does seem to be more relaxed, and happier.
We will get to potty training with him, and possibly not too far into the future, but this week has been a misfire. I will forget what TV shows tell us about being a quitter is wrong. Sometimes it is the right thing to do, and when it comes to the boy – the right thing is the only thing to do.
Octonauts is available on CBeebies – click here for more information.