February 20, 2009

Potty Training ...

Moms are proud of their toddlers for many reasons: learning their ABCs, recognizing family members in photos, not eating things found under the couch (of course, Moms never take into consideration how fresh the Cheeto may look). Dads are proud of these accomplishments too (more Cheetos for us), but we really get excited when our kids start performing useful talents.

Specifically, tinkling in the toilet.

Two months ago, my daughter decided to try this out. It came as a quite a shock to me, as I thought potty training was still years away. But she started asking. So we'd hold her up over the toilet and, what'da ya know—she'd pee! No prompting. No asking. She'd just sit her tooshie down and do her business. It was unbelievably easy.

Now I'm not one to overly dramatize such situations, but a euphoric sense of freedom overcame me. Happy thoughts dashed through my head, like a pack of Olympic sprinters on Red Bull. Goodbye Huggies and take care. So long Pampers, your services are no longer needed here. See you later diaper bag, don't let the door hit your handle on the way out.

And that is how we potty trained Ella.

"AS IF!" yelled Wayne and Garth (that's right, I just hit you with a Wayne's World reference—you're welcome).

All of that really did happen, and I earnestly thought we were close to a diaper-free daughter. But two short months later, our peeing process has changed, and it's not as neat and compact as it once was. Let me walk you through a typical trip to the bathroom with my darling Ella:

I ask, "Do you need to go potty?"
Ella responds, "Hokey Pokey?"
I say, "No, the potty."

Then she puts her right arm in. Then her right arm out. Then her right arm in. (You get the picture.)

I smoothly transition her from the Hokey Pokey to our potty dance, which may or may not look something like this: Potty Dance Video. When our Congo line reaches the bathroom, I quickly take off her diaper and put her Dora the Explorer potty seat on the toilet. She promptly turns the seat sideways, but gives me a condescending look as if to say, Why does this bozo always put my seat on wrong?

She finally sits on the toilet but makes me sit down on the floor right next to her—which is not nearly as appealing as you may believe. In the next four seconds, she manages to (in no particular order) unravel the roll of toilet paper, grab the plunger, flush the toilet, knock over the candle sitting on the toilet, pull down the hand towels, unravel the toilet paper more and fart.

After regrouping, calming her down and hiding everything within a six-mile radius, I start the negotiation process. I don't mean to brag, but I've always been a good negotiator. I bought my car below market value. I persuaded my wife—who's way out of my league, mind you—to marry me. I even convinced myself to like broccoli … BROCCOLI! Compared to those, this negotiation should be a piece of pie:

"If you pee, you wipe with grownup toilet paper."
"And you'll get some M&Ms."
"Yes, Ms."

A big grin comes over her face. So I turn my ear toward her and give her the I'm-Listening-Closely-For-The-Sweet-Sound-Of-Pee face. At this point, one of two scenarios play out:

1. She pees, I clap and cheer, we wipe, wash hands, then I shower her with "Ms"; or
2. She sticks her finger deep in my ear and effectively punctures my brain.

So I guess potty training isn't nearly as easy as I'd hoped it would be. Sometimes there are flashes of brilliance and this process takes less than a minute, while other times I'm just hoping that my little angel doesn't stick her hand down her crack and sniff it. I know eventually she'll get it down; after all, she's amazingly smart and incredibly young to be potty training in the first place. But until then, I'm going to have to make amends with a few key players.

Well Pampers, Huggies and diaper bag—I know we all said some things we regret, and we'd take them back if we could but we can't. For Ella's sake, let's act like adults. We're going to be friends for a bit longer. I'm willing to offer an olive branch to show my sincerest apologies. Want a Cheeto?

I'd love to hear about your potty training experiences. What worked? What didn't? Did you survive? Drop a note in the comments section below or e-mail me at fozzie007atYahoo.com.

The Life of Dad is updated every other Friday (barring the call of family duties). Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian