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Lessons Learned in the Bathroom

One week after we brought Denver home from the hospital, I found myself bare-breasted on the floor of the tiny powder room in our rental house, nursing my newborn baby and cheering for my two year old as she learned to use the potty. To some, it might seem crazy to choose that time to toilet train. After all, I was sleep-deprived, petrified, and still very much in physical pain. However, Finley made it abundantly clear that that was the ideal moment. She was riding that "big sister" high: new big girl bed, no high chair, new baby sister. She was dang near a woman. But really I think, deep down, it was just her way of stealing a few extra moments with mommy and daddy in the midst of our newborn-centered universe.

Everything about that process was so Finley: routine, systematic, coached, and encouraged. She wanted me in the bathroom with her every step of the way. It was so heavily articulated I felt like I was back working in the autism center again. She not only expected constant encouragement...she demanded praise. In just a few days, she was using the toilet for #1...within two weeks Miss Finley was headed for poopy town. In just a month she was no longer wearing pull-ups to bed. Never looked back. We were home free.

Fast forward two years and one baby later. It was Denver's turn. Now, she and Granger were just a tick closer in age so I did NOT rush home from the hospital after his birth and plop big sister on the potty. But we did begin to introduce the toilet gradually this fall. I knew right away, Denver was a horse of a different color. She showed zero interest. She would sit on the toilet for two nanoseconds and then say "I get gummies now mommy." In the midst of the craziness, I sort of just threw my hands up in the air. "She will get it when she's ready" I thought to myself." But I was scared. Finley made it so easy. What in the world am I going to do with Denver? One week ago today she shocked me. I don't know why it shocked me. Denver is always shocking me. I was getting the other kids ready to leave the house and Denver comes strolling in with no pants on.

"I went pee on the potty, mommy."

I LITERALLY SAID TO HER "NO YOU DIDN'T." She grabs my hand, leads me to the bathroom, and sure as the day is long: that little stink did it! And it has just continued to snowball ever since. She's such a cool customer about it. She will go into the bathroom and sit down, and if I follow her she clams up and shoes me away. Big sissy is the only one allowed to sit in there with her. She will come skipping out, let me know she went, and go on about her day. (Unless, of course, I offer a gummi bear. She pauses briefly for gummi bears.) She's even stayed dry during outings and peed in public restrooms. Just like that. Aint no thing but a chicken wing.

But that's Denver. She's wild and unpredictable, yet cool and collected. Where Finley corners the market in intensity and people-pleasing, Denver couldn't give a sh*t less about what anyone thinks. She's just here to have a good time. Finley wants to be the first and the best and the most well-liked...where Denver is comfortable taking her time, getting to something when she feels like it, and whoever is there to give her a pat on the back is just icing on the cake.

All this to say, I worked for years in an autism center. I have toilet trained many children throughout my career. When it came to teaching my own children I thought I had it on lock. I have learned several lessons from the girls in this specific arena. This toilet training ordeal has taught me that, in this life, you do not ever have ANYTHING on lock. You can have all the experience in the world, but there is always something new to learn. Especially when kids are involved.

Another one of the biggest lessons that was reinforced in the bathroom is that NO TWO KIDS ARE ALIKE. What works for my oldest may never work for the other two. What works for my friends' kids might not work for mine. AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY...what worked for the sweet old lady at church may not work for my kids and me. When it comes to the already insane pressures of parenting, I am finding that it is best to just tune out the public opinion and do what is best for my tiny individuals. Ninety percent of the time, when I stop researching and reading and asking and littles show me the way. Check back with me in two or three years when it's time to toilet train Granger. Males stand to pee... it's going to be a whole different ball game.

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