When should potty training begin?
Mayim Bialik (AKA TV’s Blossom, AKA Big Bang Theory’s Amy Farrah Fowler, AKA obviously the pre-eminent expert on everything) says to start at infancy. Others say this will scar your child for life. No matter which course you take, somebody’s got a rock solid argument to guilt you into worrying that you are flushing your child’s future down the drain. Here’s a video describing the child-centered method endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which focuses on waiting until the child is ready to train. Here’s a video describing how I feel about all those experts who keep making my wife feel guilty about her parenting style.
Amid this flurry of differing opinions, we’ve been experimenting by putting Widget2 on the potty whenever he starts to poop. The only thing we’ve learned so far is that he HATES sitting on the potty. Meanwhile, Widget1, who just celebrated his 5th birthday, still wears a pull-up to bed. That’s normal, I suppose, but he also fights going to the bathroom when he really has to go.
Typical scenario: I catch him doing the potty dance in the living room. I tell him to pause his Mario game and go pee. “I don’t have to go to the potty!” he adamantly insists. “You haven’t peed in five hours. You’re dancing like you need to pee. Put down the controller and go to the bathroom,” I say. A minute later, I hear the trickle of urine being released from captivity. An astonished little boy comes out of the bathroom. “Every time you say I have to pee, I really have to pee. How do you always know when I have to pee?”
While he’s doing this, his Angry Birds underwear cling to his knees. If we’re lucky, he might finish pulling up his underwear and shorts before he reaches the couch. The idea of dressing and walking as distinct activities does not occur to him. They must happen simultaneously. Furthermore, if we don’t remind him to do it, he may never put his clothes back on at all.
Then there is the problem of the diaper/pull-up.
I’ve come to learn that diapers and birth-control share the same paradox. Both are intended to stop an unwanted substance from reaching an unfortunate destination, and in the process, both inadvertently encourage the risky activity that causes the unwanted substance to spring forth in the first place. Widget1 has this problem with pull-ups. When he wears them, he considers it a license to relieve himself in his pants and keep on doing whatever he is doing. “You look like you need to poop,” I’ll say. “It’s ok, Daddy,” he responds, “I’m wearing a pull-up!”
And so the vicious cycle continues.