I have no idea what I am doing.
I don’t know if I’m alarmed or enlightened by how often I find that thought crossing my mind. There is a freedom in the honesty of it and certainly a, quite literal, truth. I have never done THIS before. I truly DON’T have any idea how to do it. I have only my personal experience thus far and that of those I lean on or research on to guide me. Somewhere in there, it usually all manages to work itself out for the best. Some might take issue with the idea that parenting can “work itself out”, but I’ve found that to be true. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m hiding under a pile of coats and waiting for the outcome. I’m in control of my behavior and I’m moving my feet, but once I accept that I cannot control anymore than that, things just sort of happen. It’s kinda cool.
I had no idea when was the “appropriate” time for Jack to start potty training. There is, much like any other parent related topic, a broad spectrum of advice to be handed out. All with dispensers that are completely certain that there way is the best and any deviation will certainly lead your child down an eventual path of religious zealotry or serial killing. I’m not sure which is worse (yes, I am). I very quickly found myself settling into the more passive camp of “it’s gonna happen when he’s ready”. At first I had to question whether this was simply because I am…as many can attest…rather lazy. I was also forced to take note that some of this mentality’s champions had kids in diapers well past where I’d imagined Jack. Though this worry was wiped away once Jack’s pediatrician voiced the same opinion. Call me a sucker for Western Progress, but there is something about a white lab coat that will make me trust you implicitly.
If Jack is one thing, he is surprising in the things he finds endlessly entertaining. It started out rather adorable at first, and well before I thought it would. He just wanted to see what Allison and I were actually DOING in that big, bright room that seems to have ITS OWN FAN. We’d never been shy about letting him in the bathroom, but he used to just sort of look at us in this confused “I just saw a David Lynch movie” way and that was the end of it. After a few months, he started to get increasingly interested. What were we doing? How was it all going down? Once he started using the “local colloquialisms” such as “poo poo” and “pee pee” and using them in proper context, we knew we were getting close. Not to get TOO great into detail (if that’s still possible) the day my belt buckle clanged off his glasses while he was “getting a better look” I made the decision to grab a Training Toilet off Amazon.
I’d love to say that I was wowed by all the options for training toilets on the market, but it’s not exactly shopping for Hot Rods. It’s a small plastic tub that your kid pees or poops into. I went with the NUMBER ONE BEST SELLER on Amazon for 10 bucks. Money well spent. Though, not to disappoint my wife’s expectations, I did make a separate impulse buy while I was getting the Potty. I saw that children’s book author Leslie Patricelli had a book appropriately named POTTY. I don’t know if I can sing the praises of Patricelli, and specifically this title, enough.
Jack loves books. I believe he has learned more from simply seeing the progression of letters in accompaniment with illustration than we can ever teach him. He is, after all, the son of Allison Bell Johnson and a full on, no apologies, geek of the month club comic book fanboy like myself. It’s in his DNA. Jack was not in love with the training potty upon first seeing it. You could even say he was a little afraid of it. So, we left it alone for the day and that night we did something Jack loves to do: we read. POTTY, in conjunction with the support of his parents and Jack’s want to take this next step into “Big Boyhood”, got him incredibly excited. The first few times we’d just take him into the bathroom when we’d go. Then he started grabbing our hand and pulling us while going “Potty!”. I’m working on a comic right now about the first time he went “pee pee in the potty”. Bottomline: I wasn’t there. I knew it was coming. It was just different that day and could tell he really wanted it. Allison came home and I had to leave to make a meeting…I got a text 5 minutes later as I was driving. Pee Pee in the Potty. I was so proud.
God, that sounds silly. Ya know what, it’s also not true. It wasn’t pride that I was feeling at that moment. There was a little bit of regret. “Damn! I missed it!” I thought. Then a flood of past feeling came rushing in. “Another moment in Jack’s life that I missed.” An echo of all those times I wasn’t present when I was still running amok. That all went away though as I got a bit clearer. Allison was there. Allison was present for a huge milestone in our son’s early life. She saw his huge smile when he excitedly yelled “YAAAAAAAY!” and she got to hug him and tell him what a big boy he was. So, no, it wasn’t pride I was feeling. It was gratitude. I’m so grateful for my son and my wife.
I didn’t MISS a thing. I have all of this. This is my life. Pee Pee. Poo Poo. Potty. All of it.
Potty is far from mastered yet. We’ve got several liquid, but no solid extraction going on yet. Jack is in PULL UP diapers now. He’s only been at it a month, but in that month was out of action due to the trifecta of illness. An eye, ear and sinus infection that just sort of made him not quite himself. Earlier today, he grabbed my hand and pulled me into the bathroom to go potty. He’s back on the horse and all I can think about is what my 25 year old self would be thinking of me right now. One of the thing I’m looking forward to the most in my life is when my son will poop in a plastic tub in front of me. 25 year old George would probably take a look and write me off as a “brainwashed loser with no passion”. I wouldn’t try and correct him either. I’d just know, looking back at my experience since then, that he has no idea what he’s missing and how damn good he’s gonna have it.
Thanks for listening. Be well.