Monday, January 28, 2013

I Still Fail At Potty Training

I love my daughter. 
I love my daughter. 
I love my daughter. 
I love my daughter. 
I love my daughter. 
I love my daughter. 
I love my daughter. 
I love my daughter. 
I love my daughter.

Do you think if I say it enough, I will be able to drown out my feelings of utter and complete inadequacy?

See, Iris and I started potty training rather intensively twelve days ago.  And I expected that it would take some time for Iris to really get it.  I expected that I’d be cleaning up various bodily wastes for a while.  But TWELVE DAYS????

Oh, don’t get me wrong, if she were still peeing in her panties, we’d be back in diapers.  I’m not delusional.  She got the peeing part of potty training within a few days.  And, today, she can be in the middle of playing or (this morning) in the middle of Target, sitting in a cart, in a toy aisle, and tell me she needs to go to the potty.  This is cause for some level of celebration. 

But I cannot celebrate because I am too busy cleaning up poop.


Oh, she’s pooped.  Everywhere but the potty.  And I’m not talking about we-were-on-our-way-but-just-didn’t-make-it-to-the-potty-on-time.  I’m talking about she will be playing and I will ask her if she needs to poop.  She will say no with utter certainty.  Then, ten or fifteen minutes later, she will, with tears in her eyes, say “Mommy I pooped!” and there will be a sizable turd in her panties.  Or on the floor.

I have tried rewards:

Me: Iris, if you poop in the potty, you get a (in a super-excited voice that makes me feel
like a demented game-show hostess) candy bar!


Me: Iris, when you poop in the potty, you get this Ariel doll!!!  (it’s a Barbie-sized
            Disney Princess Ariel doll she says she really wants)

I have tried gentle threats:

Iris: Mommy, can I wear a princess dress?
Me: When you poop in the potty, you can wear a princess dress.
Iris: But I want to wear a princess dress!!
Me: Not until you poop in the potty.
Iris: Oookay.


Me: Iris, if you keep pooping in your panties, we will have to put you back in diapers like a baby.  You don’t want to be a baby, do you?
Iris: (giving me the stink-eye) I’m not a baby!  I’m a little girl!
Me: But little girls poop in the potty.  Babies poop in their panties.  You’re being a baby.
Iris: NO!
Me: Sweetie, if you poop in the potty, you’ll be a little girl!  Next time, can you poop in the potty?
Iris: Okay.  I will!

I have tried peer pressure:

Me: Iris, do you know who poops in the potty?
Iris: Who?
Me: B____ (this is her best friend).
Iris: She does?
Me: Yes!  Do you know who else poops in the potty?
Iris: Who?
Me: K________ (this is her other best friend).
Iris: Yes?
Me: YES!  Don’t you want to poop in the potty like B____ and K_______?
Iris: YES!!!!

I have tried modeling correct behavior and employing jealousy (eg: I tell her/show her I am pooping on the potty and then eat a candy bar in front of her and tell her that I get to eat a candy bar because I have pooped on the potty). 

Do you know which of these techniques has worked?  NONE OF THEM, DAMMIT!

And, to make matters worse, not only are these conversations not working, they all make me feel utterly ridiculous.  You know, I used to negotiate with prosecutors to try to keep someone from having to spend the rest of their life in prison.  Now, what am I doing?  I am negotiating with a toddler to try to get her to not poop on the floor. 

Can we all just acknowledge how ludicrous that is?

The other mothers I know who are potty training seem to be doing well….their kids are pooping in the potty with aplomb.  Even the boys (who, I have been told are harder to potty train and tend to potty train later than girls).  There is a girl in Iris’s preschool class that is fully five months younger than Iris who is fully potty trained. 

You know what this means?  It means I suck at this.

And my kid is going to go to college wearing Depends.
P.S.  I promise not all my posts will be about potty training, it's just what I'm going through right now and if I have to suffer, you have to suffer.


  1. Betsy, I Love your posts! I also love that my kids are almost 16 and 20, don't wear Depends, and are waaaaay past this.

    In a "misery loves company" theme, if it helps, you are far from the only one to have a child who refuses to use the potty for poops yet is as dependable as anything with peeing. I had one friend whose daughter would ask for a pullup when she needed to poop, and would hide behind furniture to go in her panties rather than use the potty. One of the zillions of child rearing books said that some kids feel poop is still part of them (but don't feel that way about pee), and hate to have it go down the toilet. Never made sense to me, but then, toddlers and preschoolers rarely made sense to me!

    Good Luck! You two will get it soon enough!

    1. Thank you.

      But you will not be so generous when Iris poops in the middle of your wedding.

  2. It's not going well over here, either, but I don't consider myself a failure. I just think it will happen when it happens. And my son has not pooped OR peed in the potty. Not even once. He does accompany me to the bathroom, though, and INSISTS on flushing. You're right. That causes a horribly odd and unsettling feeling.

    1. You don't know how awesome it is to hear someone else admit that things aren't going well. Thank you!

  3. Sending hugs to you and Miss Iris! What an undertaking. Jackson is 30 months old, Shawn's youngest, and he has been peeing in the pot for months now but still doesn't quite do the pooping thing with any regularity. He did yesterday when I was Skyping with Twilla and the whole household exploded in applause. So, your situation sounds more normal than out of the norm to me. And you are a rockstar! And I love your new blog! :)

  4. The munchkin for whom I nanny took a VERY long time to potty train, especially around pooping. 12 days is nothing. You are NOT a failure. And, yeah, the looking in the toilet to exclaim about the new contents thing is odd, but it's part of them figuring out what's going on.

    Note: If you want to feel inadequate, try talking to my great-great-aunt. She is 96, and in her day there were no automatic washers, nor disposable diapers nor pull-ups. So apparently kids were potty trained as soon as they could walk well enough to make it to the potty, because no mom was going to put up with having to hand-wash cloth diapers for any longer than she had to. I don't know *how* they did this, because at the time I had never helped potty train anyone. The munchkin is the first child for whom I've had that... joy & privelege. I should ask her.