Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Toilet Training (Second Time Round.)

This post originally appeared as a column in Practical Parenting, November 2010

As summer heats up, mothers of two-year-olds around the country turn their thoughts to toilet training. My little Teddy will be excited, I’m sure. He’s spent almost all his life wrapped in nappies, so a season of letting it all hang out will be a wonderful treat to him. As it is, when disrobed, he is always pleased to regard his own naked glory. ‘Pea-nitz, Mama!’ he shouts with delight. ‘Lookit! Pea-nitz!’

Me, I’m not so thrilled. My memories of toilet training his big sister are still quite fresh, and somewhat fruity. Ivy has always been an independent creature. She does things her own way. So our toilet training didn’t go exactly as they counselled in the parenting books. One particularly ‘helpful’ manual advised me not to worry if there were ‘a few accidents’ in the first week or so. A few! I should be so lucky. Ivy wee’d her way around the house, the car and the neighbourhood with gay abandon like a merry, unpredictable little sprinkler.

For a whole summer, Ivy waged what could only be described as a Wee War with me. When she eventually, on her own terms, decided to focus her efforts fully on the toilet, my nerves - and the sort furnishings - had taken quite the battering.

Mainly Ivy’s decorative efforts were confined to the liquid kind. Usually she managed to poo in the potty; but not always. One day Keith noticed she had that thousand-mile-stare as she leaned against the couch.

'Are you doing a poo, Ivy?' he said.

'No, daddy, I just relaxing,' she replied, and then looked shamefaced as a little nugget fell out of the leg of her pants.

Just then I came home from the shop.

'What's up?' I said.

'I did a shorts in my poo, Mummy,' she said.

Another afternoon I come unexpectedly upon a steamy little offering in the hallway. ‘Why is there a poo on the floor, Ivy?’ I asked helplessly. ‘I just wanting to see what it’s look like,’ she told me.

Ivy was particularly good at the psychological aspect of warfare. She would wee on the couch cover, which spent more time on the line that summer than in the house, and when it was removed, would stealthily lay a little egg on the cushion itself. One memorable evening there was an Incident in the bath. It involved Ivy standing up, wailing, a little nugget in each hand, as Keith called for help and tried to stop her putting her fingers in her mouth. The next day she talked about the chocolate Daddy wouldn't let her eat in the bath. I think in toddler-therapy they call it a 'disconnect.'

The weeks passed. The Wee War limped on. Ivy refused to go to the toilet at the park, but instead climbed into the driver’s seat before we went home and let the rivers run. She merrily went though four or five pairs of Thomas the Tank engine underpants a day. I hopelessly tried to keep on top of the groaning laundry and the secret corner-tinkling. ‘Mummy is a bit angry,’ Ivy would say conversationally, with her hand on my shoulder. ‘OK, where is the wee?’ I would wearily reply; cloth and floor-spray in hand.

Will it be easier dealing with a little boy and his pea-nitz? Will it be a summer full of fruity bath-bombs, and a lingering fragrance of Eau-de-Puppy-Shelter? The double-covers are on the couch and I’m prepared for battle, dear readers. I’ll keep you posted.


  1. Oh, this is just the beginning MamaM!

    Just wait 'til he's standing at the toilet weeing, with stealth-bomber precision, at the hard-to-reach sections of the bowl and surrounds. The stench will become unbearably permanent and 'rubber gloves' will always be on the shopping list.

    Your post made me laugh.

  2. Gorgeous piece! Love your writing...

  3. I think I just peed a little reading this post. Don't be angry! xx

  4. Ahhh, the memories.

    Love this piece. As for boys, they keep on missing for a long time is all I know!

  5. Couldn't help but laugh, although it mustn't have been so funny at the time.

  6. Heh heh. You write fabulously. I laughed a lot, and sometimes laughed and cringed at the same time. My eldest almost nailed toilet training in an annoyingly short period of time, only to forget how to do it for the ... oh, whole next year after her brother was born. It's time to start training the youngest now... but I just haven't been able to bring myself to try too hard... especially as he started saying NO pretty much after a week of having a gentle go at it. S'pose I should give it a go ... this hilarious piece of writing in my head fortifies me somewhat.

  7. collfere... Um, just typed the word verification into the comment box. Tired much! We are in full swing with Matilda. When she feels like it she's quite good however I think we can say her territory is well and truly marked. She never lets on though, when we come across little pools we have to find ways of telling if she's weed or spilt water everywhere. I'll spare you the details. Even when we get her on the toilet (which she prefers to the potty) she tends to squeeze her legs together so that the wee pools on her thighs, dribbles down her legs, the toilet, and on to the floor. Occasionally, with a really tight squeeze, we get spray. Good luck with the pea-nitz model! Bx

  8. Enjoy the festivities, Rachael...and stay out of home-improvement stores with toilets on display. No, really. Trust me on this one.

  9. Funny! Bodhi will use a toilet anywhere but at home cause at home "me's just a little boy mummy"... And coops is a laugh, he'll pull it out and wee on a passing dog... What worse is that I had to ask Rabbit to please pee on a tree and not the middle of the yard. Social skills 101


Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.