This Thanksgiving was all about potty training.
I took the week off from work to get it done and Russell was home from school too. Not exactly a glamorous way to spend vacation days, but I’m really glad I was able to take the time to be there for Satski at such a momentous milestone. I mean, it’s a real life skill to be able to recognize the need to potty and make it in the right place. I’m honored I can teach him these things.
We used the Oh Crap! Potty Training method. I spent a flight to and from Chicago poring over the book and making notes. See all my obsessive dog eared pages? I made a google doc and sent Russell the rules of the game. I was not messing around, I was intent on getting him trained by the end of Thanksgiving break. “Your job today is to do nothing but watch your child.”
Spoiler alert, the book worked, so I highly recommend it. It breaks down potty training into learning “blocks” starting with a day of no pants, to pants, to outings with pants. It’s against any rewards and pretty firm about accidents not being okay. You don’t ask your kid if they have to go, you tell them. If they have an accident, you make them help you clean up the mess. This may sound a bit harsh, but the author says it’s to make it really clear to your kid what they’re supposed to do. It’s a confusing time to suddenly be out of diapers.
We cleared the rugs and our schedules, bought a few pairs of cheap sweats, new toys, and got to work.
Day One was pretty exhausting and funny to have a naked kid running around the house. Our dog, Nama, found it pretty amusing too. You literally don’t do anything but watch your kid and signs of pee/poo. We would sit him down for over half an hour and then finally let him up, only to have him pee on the floor minutes later. But you could tell it was starting to register for him that peeing on the floor wasn’t cool. And he successfully went number two in the potty.
Day Two was better and we put pants on him. I was starting to feel a little stir crazy not leaving the house at all, but he seemed perfectly content having me and his dad at home, giving him undivided attention. He made it in to the potty about half the time.
Day Three we left the house to get the mail and play outside. And we learned he can hold his pee for a really long time, like 6 hours! He held it from morning until nap, and I finally gave up and put a diaper on him to go to sleep. I consulted with my neighbor whose son potty trained a few months earlier and she told me to get juice boxes to get him going more often, and that seemed to do the trick. She also let us borrow some books about potty featuring Elmo, Daniel Tiger and Thomas the Train that helped. But this day the number two did not make it into the potty.
Day Four we decided to venture out of the house for dim sum. He was starting to learn the process and found out he could manipulate us. We got stuck in traffic on the way back when he told us he needed to pee, so I grabbed him out of the car seat (while the car was still on the freeway) and put him on the potty next to me. He sat happily like that for half an hour. And I realized he didn’t really need to go, he just wanted to get out of the seat. So no pee all the way home, and then as soon as we got back, he peed on the floor. This was the only accident of the day though. Progress.
Day Five was Thanksgiving and we had a dinner party to go to. We explained to him that he needed to tell us when he needed to go to the potty. There were a few false alarms, and I spent most of the dinner running back and forth to the bathroom with him, but by dessert time, he finally went and everyone cheered for him. He was so proud. He made it through the entire day without any accidents! And dinner at my mother-in-laws was lovely.
Day Six we put a diaper down on the car seat outside of his pants and drove up 3 hours to Sea Ranch. We took a break two hours in at Bodega Bay and I tried to get him to use the potty in the car but he refused. So I carried the potty chair in with me to lunch, since the clam chowder place we go to only has a port-a-potty. He said he needed to go a few times so we’d squat outside for a while, and nothing would come. Being out in public was seriously so stressful for me and I know I was hovering too much trying to get him to potty, but I was just constantly scared of being too late. But he knew what he was doing. Our dog unfortunately did not, and peed in the car. We made it to Sea Ranch by dinner and had a pizza from Two Fish Bakery. Satski had had another accident-free day.
Day Seven was a full day of exploring Sea Ranch. We went on a hike and checked out the tide pools. Satski loved the hermit crabs and is still talking about them. How you had to look really carefully to see them moving slowly, their claws and heads poking out of the shells. On the walk back we found a fuzzy caterpillar that he was too scared to touch. But he gave everyone we passed a big high five. It was a beautiful and clear day out. We tried to get him to pee a few times on the trail but he resisted. I took him with me into the bathrooms at a rec center. I lifted up the seat, had him stand on the rim, and he peed standing. That works. We intended to go for another short walk after his nap but he never ended up taking that nap and threw a big tantrum that resulted in an accident, all over me. By the time he had calmed down and we had cleaned up the mess, the sun was going down.
After the week was over, he had to go back to daycare, armed with notes for his teachers about his potty-training style. The first day back, he had 3 accidents, no successes on the potty. I was devastated. I talked with the teachers and they said it was normal. Sure enough, he’s mostly accident-free now 2 weeks later, though we’re still prompting often and putting diapers on for naps and night time. Honestly, potty training went more smoothly than I thought it would. I’ve been impressed with how quickly he learns. He seems so much more independent and grown-up every day. Which makes me sad and proud.