Monday, 19 January 2009

Raising the white flag

I like to think that I don't give up easily.

It's not true, of course, or not entirely. There are plenty of well-documented cases of my falling at the first fence and not bothering to get up for another try. Chocolate avoidance, for example. I'm pretty rubbish at sticking to that plan. Violin practise. Though of course that was between the ages of 7 and 15, so I can't be blamed for pushing that little shortfall to the back of mind. And frankly, I imagine my whole family were relieved I didn't torture the poor strings any more than was strictly necessary.

Then there was anything remotely scientific at school; I loved the idea of understanding the building blocks of life in chemistry, physics and biology, but when it came down to it I just couldn't be bothered to remember periodic tables, equations or cell structures.

And oh yes, there was that brief flirtation with sailing when I was teenager that ended in tears after only a few trips out. Turned out that once I got marooned on a Topper sailing dinghy in a flat calm in the middle of Christchurch Harbour the appeal of the open waves and pulling on an uncomfortable wet-suit lost their lustre pretty quickly.

But on the other hand, there are things I've persevered with. My relationship with Husband (pre his being that) when he had the temerity to move to Moscow for four years shortly after we met. My determination to make it to a particular job in a particular profession came good, even if it was then cancelled out by my belief that being home with the Boys was the right course of action for our family. Which I suppose is something else that I've stuck at. My undertaking to visit the gym 3 times a week for a year; I'm more than half way through, and surely the results will start showing soon? (Though of course the failure of the chocolate avoidance plan might have had some impact on that...).

So, when I say that I'm thinking of putting this whole potty training exercise with Boy #2 on hold, you'll understand that it's not a decision I would take lightly. I don't know why it's such a big issue for me; before he was three, it didn't bother me in the slightest that he was still in pull-up nappies. 'He'll do it in his own time' I used to think. 'No hurry. Why be constrained by Society's expectations? It's nobody's business but ours, really...' The month he hit three though, suddenly all restraint and reasonableness on my part flew out the window. Suddenly, I worried what other people were thinking. Plus, it just seemed wrong to be putting a nappy on a child who can count to 10, puzzle out complicated toys, include role-play in his games, tell jokes, and take the mickey out of me.

But you know what? I just think he's not ready. For a few days, it looked like he was getting it, but the last 8 or 9 have not been good and frankly, all that's happening is I'm getting pissed off with the mopping, the wiping, the spooning and the laundry. And I don't like myself like that, or what it's doing to how I interact with Boy #2.

So, I think I'm going to take the advice of the wise souls (thanks Sam and Expat Mum) who have commented and told me not to sweat it. Back to nappies tomorrow, and try again in a month.

It's only potty training, when all is said and done.

(And the relief that results from my writing posts about something other than poo or wee won't only be from me, I imagine...)


  1. Absolutely the right advice to not sweat it.
    Children know when they are ready and if they are not, you've got no chance.
    Then again you wouldn't have a blog title!

  2. Good for you - definitely the best thing to do. So much pressure to be toilet trained by the time the little one gets home from hospital. Nonsense! Let him lead the way.

  3. Never having done this I've always wondered what the rules were.

    I hate rules.

    I do love chocolate however.

    Enjoy the peace and pass me that chocolate covered strawberry will you.

  4. He'll probably do it all himself in the space of 24 hours a few months down the track, and you'll wonder what the hell you put yourself through. We deal with so much peer pressure as parents - it's ridiculous.

  5. Sounds like it's probably the best thing to do for the moment. We get a lot of comments from both our parents on how young we were when we were potty trained. Pah! What most of our mums describe as potty-trained, was just learning when we were most likely to pee/poop and sticking us on the potty. I can actually remember being woken up during the night to be put on the potty. That's not potty trained, if you ask me.

    They will do it when their ready. Fingers crossed that's before they start primary school (unless you're in Wales), but otherwise don't sweat it. (Says she who is keeping her child indoors as much as possible, so she can please, please, please get the hang of it soon!)

  6. Good decision, girl.

  7. Oh and just remember that handy mantra... they won't still be in nappies when they're 21.

  8. WELL DONE! I was frustrated after my first attempt with number 3 but when he was ready - at attempt number 3 it only took 2 days for number 1s and 1 day for number 2s... does that make sense....

    Forget what others are thinking, remember he is a boy and he has more important things to learn - like how to make the brumming noise of a car and the shooting noise of a gun etc....

  9. I was convinced that my eldest would go off to college in diapers. He didn't.

    It will work out. Trust me.

  10. We started and stopped more times than I care to think about with sweetP. He wasn't done until he was nearly 4. But he got and Boy #2 will too. No point making everyone crazy in the process. :)

  11. Good for you. It's not "giving up". It's "assessing the situation and taking a wise decision appropriate in the circumstances and based on the available evidence".

    If it's any comfort, with my Boy #2, I started potty training at 2 yrs 10 months. Total disaster. I decided to leave it. At 3 yrs 1 month, he just sort of did it himself. (I know this exactly because it all tied in with an anxiety to do with leaving him with Grandparents just after Christmas, so I can remember the dates clearly.)

    What's the deal with primary schools in Wales, Coding Mamma?

  12. Sorry it didn't work out but differentiating between a nappy and clothing is hard in the early days. It may even be best for you both to wait until the weather warms up (it will eventually, right?) and do the bare bottom thing until he gets the idea. At least that will save on washing clothes, there will still be a bit of mopping/spooning though...

  13. Smart decision, PM. You will like each other so much better and there will be so much less frustration.

  14. I think you're right. Mine trained at 3 years 3 months (girl) and 2 years 9 months (boy) and they were both ready and were only having the occasional accident after the first weekend, I really don't know how you've stuck at it this long with so many accidents!
    Hopefully when you try again in a month he'll click with it. Or he may even initiate it.

  15. Iota: They start primary school at three years old in Wales. Technically, it's pretty much the same as going to a pre-school attached to a school, but they wear the school uniform, go to assemblies, etc. and call it going to school. And I'm pretty sure they go for the full school day, too, though might be wrong. Don't think it's compulsory, but seems most children go. And it's been like that for years; my Gran tells me all about taking my dad to school for the first time and how difficult it was to let him go at such an early age.

    So, presumably there are quite a few who aren't potty trained yet when they start school in Wales.

  16. Sounds like the right decision. I am sure he will just do it when he's ready.

    I think Littleboy 1 didn't get it until (at age almost 3 and a half) he finally understood when I explained to him that only babies wear nappies and big boys don't. I'd explained before, but the level of comprehension just wasn't there!

  17. You deserve a break - and some chocolate.

    Very impressed by the gym going fanaticism as well!

  18. First off, thanks one and all for the support. It's helpful to know that I'm not being a complete wet blanket about this one!

    Tara, don't worry, I thought about that already. All references from toilet training will be removed from the 'about me' section and it will focus purely on trying to stay sane when my two sons are doing their best to make it impossible! (Or something like that...)

    GM, thanks!

    Aims, there are rules? Nobody told me there were rules! So that's why we can't work it out! (And really, waste chocolate on a strawberry? How could you!)

    Tracey, I know. I shall just shut my ears to it all and reintroduce a dummy for good measure... (Just kidding, obviously)

    Tasha, that's so true, I remember one story about an American mum who swore her daughter was potty trained by 6 months. What???? (And thanks for the update on the Welsh school system. Am now even gladder that I live in London!)

    GPM, I certainly hope not. Those would be pricey nappies...

    Sam, thank you. And how did you know about the car? (Boy #2 now calls an exhaust pipe a brummer. Makes sense to me)

    Thanks RC. I know you're right.

    Ped, thankyou! Thankyou! That totally makes me feel better about it all. No, really, I mean that. And by then maybe he'll even be able to change his own nappies!

    Iota, just the sort of comment I needed to hear, thanks again. And you're right - it isn't giving up, it's pausing for breath.

    Sharon, yes, it might happen that way. Though you clearly haven't been back here for a while with your blithe assumption that the weather will warm up!

    Irene, I know it. The last thing I want is tension that might lead to some kind of issue for him.

    Guider, thanks for the support and the information. So glad to know that we're not alone in leaving it a little longer. As for initiating it, who knows? The Thomas pants may yet prove an attraction.

    NVG, that's a good point. And hopefully one Boy #2 will get before too long.

    Mud, I do, I so do. and the gym thing is really only so that I can eat the chocolate. It's called 'lifestyle accounting' I believe. 1500 calories of energy burnt a week = far too much chocolate...

  19. In twenty years time, unless you bring it up to embarrass him, neither of you will be able to remember when he potty trained, it'll just be something he's been doing on his own for twenty odd years. It just feels like a long time now, like the first six weeks when you think you'll never sleep again. Good for you PM, brave decision! MH

  20. Potty as soon as you've done it you'll wonder why you were ever worried. I waited 2 weeks with mini and she got it even just after that short time.. he may just need a bit of time to 'digest' the whole notion and then will do it quick as a flash next time you try.

    Looking forward to meeting you on 7th February!!!

    BM x

  21. Well done that mummy! He will probably rip his nappy off next week and do it all himself now that he realises you're going to get off his back about it.

  22. Good for you, PM, because only bad things can come of a sense of failure when you are only 3! And that's more important than you worrying about what others think of him! He'll get it when he feels confident... now that he has some inkling of it, it will fester in his little mind until such time as he works it out for himself, and then before you know it the nappies will be done for!!!!

  23. Oh and btw, I am with you on the whole chocolate thing. No amount of mide over matter can keep me away from the stuff. I exercise so that I can eat chocolate!

  24. Nice decision. My youngest took For Ever.
    Got finally Very Fed Up and decided to stay at home for a week with Youngest and we would crack it. Someone suggested balloons so we sat on the loo and blew up balloons and HEY no more pooey pants. Took a day!
    In the end they do it when they are ready. Everyone has such good advice here. go with it, girl!

  25. MH, very true, I know. And I just heard yesterday that an acquaintance had problemson this with her children until they were 5 - so really, what am I bothering about?

    Hi BM, likewise on the 7th, and it's very interesting you say that about the 2 weeks. (Am still waiting until mid-Feb, though... The last thing I want is to be mopping wee on my birthday!)

    EPM, I can only hope!

    MdP, that's so true (about the sense of failure). I think as parents we lose sight sometimes of the weight our expectations can place on our children - it's easily done.

    LWM, I'm intrigued; balloons?

  26. Boychild (or rather I )had the added pressure of being the only boy in a group of girls when we were going through this. Girls, in the main, seem to catch on much quicker, which I suspect is because they can't "bulldog clip" the end of the "hose" until it is all too late. We struggled through one early try, and decided that it was going nowhere - well everywhere ! he was 3 and three months when we tried again and we were done in days.
    If it's any encouragement you go through similar training issues with seat up, seat down, lid down or even flush for the next 18 years ! Hang in there, it'll be fine and don't beat yourself up.

  27. hear hear, don't sweat it. Over here the US Moms don't seem to be in any rush to potty train. Something i found strange with firstborn, as i guess I was still thinking like a Mum, but once i adopted some Mommy-tactics, it made the whole potty training thing a lot more relaxing and successful for us.
    However, sure, i can relate to feeling off kilter with a son who can count etc but can pee in the potty....
    But some re-evaluating time does us all wonders eh?
    He'll get there, when he's good and ready, and it sounds like your cleaning products need a break anyhow!
    Good luck.

  28. Definitely the right thing to do lovely. He'll do it when he's ready. I've made a couple of attempts at night potty training Miss M but she's just not ready yet either.

  29. Lisa from Boondock Ramblings wrote a glowing review of your site so I had to click on the potty training one since it resonates so well with me. My Sprite will be 3 in November, EVERY other kid in her group is potty trained at the same age, and while she can talk circles around the rest of the kida, she refuses to potty train! She even sits on the potty, says she doesn't have to go, and then walks a few steps and lets the tide loose. So, we're still in diapers and still reminding her to at least give the potty a look before ducking into a corner for her daily constitutional. Good for you for keeping to your own schedule. Shame on me for trying to keep up with the other mommies. Great post!


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