Potty training Lemon Cake is NOTHING like I had imagined. I didn’t think that I could feel elation, pride, frustration and anger all in one day on the singular and basic issue of putting pee and poo in the potty.
Around the time Lemon Cake turned two and a half, I put the potty in the bathroom just in case he became interested. For the longest time, he only wanted to watch me use the bathroom. Then he would pretend to pee on potty with diaper and pants on. I gave him the choice of using the potty and trying on underwear, but he always responded with a resounding, “No!” Finally, the morning before Christmas, I asked again expecting a no and HE SAID YES! Luckily, I had Thomas the Train underwear lying around (gifted by my aunt and about 3 sizes too big, but who cares). I decided to strike while the iron was hot and whisk Lemon Cake away with me to an underwear shopping adventure at Target the day before Christmas. (In case you are curious, he picked out Spiderman underwear).
For the next week or two, potty training proceeded in a linear fashion. Lemon Cake was proud to pee and sometimes poo in the potty, and he was willing to try sitting on the potty when the timer went off. There were some accidents, but they were to be expected. I was happy and relieved that potty training was going well, “text book” style, and that there would be a happy ending any day now.
Then, Lemon Cake decided to torture me by engaging in a power struggle every time he was supposed to try the potty. He insisted he had no pee or only wanted to be in diaper. He had accidents multiple times a day, sometimes right after he had tried the potty, or during time-outs in his room. I was also really struggling with when and how often to prompt him to try the potty. I was getting incredibly stressed out and was constantly on edge about this whole potty thing PLUS taking care of our very active and mobile baby Banana, who wanted to get into everything. I was becoming visibly annoyed when he had an accident, and was determined to think he was doing this intentionally. Deep down I know he wasn’t, he was still barely three years old.
Of course, there was also Lemon Cake’s exponential increase in penis exploration. I tried to be the liberal parent that I wanted to be and let Lemon Cake roam around half naked whenever he wanted. My husband and I quickly grew quite uncomfortable with that idea. I will spare you the details. We also knew that all the soon-to-be visiting grandparents would be absolutely appalled to see him wrapping his penis in white tissue paper and proudly declaring that he has a white penis.
But back to the topic of potty training. With renewed encouragement from his teacher, who gave specific concrete steps to help him (and my stress level), I decided I would give it another shot for several more days before my parents’ arrival from China. If Lemon Cake continued to resist and I was going crazy, we would take a break and just wait for warmer weather to re-attempt training.
TA-DA! After a few days, Lemon Cake started frequently asking, “Am I in diaper or underwear?” when he felt the urge to pee and he started willingly going to the potty when prompted. I spontaneously made up a game called “Who is going to pee first?”, so now he races to the potty and tries to pee before I do (of course I hold my pee to let him win). It has been going relatively well for about two weeks now. At this moment, I actually feel quite relaxed about Lemon Cake’s potty use. He was even able to pee in his friend’s potty during a play date, and yesterday was another milestone- he used the public bathroom for the first time (with potty insert)! I felt very silly carrying the potty insert around half-shoved into my diaper bag. It certainly made a unique fashion statement with my UGG boots, but whatever it takes, right?
This is not just about potty training, I have learned so much about Lemon Cake with all the struggles and successes he is experiencing throughout this journey. Clearly he is the kind of child who needs to test and experiment with everything to learn and to figure things out (How long can I hold my pee? When can I pee? Where can I pee? What will Mommy do or say if I pee here on the floor or on the chair…etc.) Of course, it is not really a big deal because eventually everyone learns to use the potty. But to a small child, this is one big step to being more independent, and more like his parents, and more of a “big boy”.
I sincerely hope that I will not have to write a blog about complete potty training regression in two weeks.