Blog Post 22

Wow, that was a long break. I was accomplishing what a friend once told me was the last big milestone of toddler/preschooler parenting: potty training. My son is almost 4, which is about the right age for Denmark and on the late side for the US. Despite his dislike of diapers, he seemed to have no interest in doing the work to transition out of them. Then we had our global warming heat wave, both kids got diaper rash from the cheap Danish diapers, and he was ready. I didn't have a lot of useful advice going into it. A number of people had suggested the 3 day method and I'm really glad that worked for them, but there is no way I was locking myself in the house with my super energetic son for even one day, let alone 3 and while my spouse is supportive in lots of ways, he absolutely was not playing partner on potty training. I had apparently taught myself and my big sister and the kid across the street. My younger sister just one day decided she needed Popples underpants, gave her diapers to the neighbors and never had an accident. My in-laws stories involved guilty admittance of a spanking turning the tide...So in the end I took advantage of Denmark's more common public urination, acceptance of nudity and greater affection for children. We went out every day, just like normal, and the rule was my son could pee anywhere reasonable. I prompted him every hour and he happily eliminated in corners, on flowers, in one daredevil case out the cargo bike window and sometimes actually in the toilet.

Five days of this and he was taking care of his business without prompting, even sleeping through the night without wetting his bed. I was utterly beat, but it had been worth it and I sent him back to børnehave. Unfortunately, doing number two was still an issue and after a few days the pedagogs were totally frustrated had thrown the poor kid back in diapers and declared he wasn't ready. I vehemently disagreed. We tried having him go for just a half day with the idea that he mostly defecated in the afternoon, but of course he pooped twice that morning. So, counter to his pedagog's protests, I took him out of school again and said I wasn't bringing him back until he'd nailed bowel movements.

I was frustrated, exhausted and very unsure of what to do at this point. I tried buying him a toy that I said he couldn't have until he'd gone three days without ruining his undies. I read him a book about super heroes using the potty and let him do the reward stickers in back. Not being motivated by encouragement this didn't seem to move the needle much, but we ran into his Eritrean friend, Dotan, and his family at the grocery store. Like every other Eritrean kid I've met, Dotan was out of diapers before his third birthday. I asked his dad how he'd done it and he said he just kept repeating that big boy's use the potty. Since Walter is very caught up in his identity as a Big Boy, I decided to give it a try and kept repeating that like a mantra. It worked. Now admittedly, he often had so little time between his body's signals and the need to go that he mostly did his business like a dog. He even one day ran out of a store and pooped on their stoop. Happily I always keep plastic bags handy. 

I've gotten in the habit of every single place we go, scouting at out the bathroom, telling him where it is or if we're outside, designating a spot. My mistake with store was I had just told him to vaguely go outside. Another mistake I made was telling him corners were outside and when he tried to pee down a stair case in a corner and I stopped him, he decided instead to walk down the street proceeding himself with a stream of urine. Thankfully this is Denmark and the elderly people walking by thought it was adorable. 

So yay, milestone passed. Now I just have to get my daughter to stop nursing!