Lots of Internet chatter these days about the "Lazy Parent" movement. Just Google it and you'll get the gist, but basically it's the idea that our children learn more and are better adjusted when raised by "lazy" parents. Lazy parents don't over schedule their children in lessons and teams, they allow them to play alone and develop their imaginations instead of providing constant stimulus and entertainment (not the same as leaving them for hours with an electronic babysitter). It goes on from there, along with the expected debate over whether or not this is actually a good way to parent.
Well, I'm a lazy parent and it mostly works for us.
One of the areas I'm proud to be a lazy parent is potty training.
If you care not a lick for potty training, you don't need to read this ridiculously long post. I understand. Until I started potty training, I didn't want to participate in discussions about it either.
I hate potty training. Actually, I refuse to participate in it, as much as that's possible. I kind of figure it's one of those hardwired developmental milestones, like walking. Either a kid gets it or they don't, and if they don't I'd rather they keep on wearing diapers instead of trying to force or "train" the issue.
I didn't always think this way. I heard the success stories of those children potty trained by 2 years of age. When the Princess started following me to the bathroom I went out and bought her her first potty. I think she was 15 months. From then on, whenever I went she did too...at least she sat on the potty and mimed me, and I secretly thought to myself that she was going to train in a day.
That summer, just before she turned 2, I secretly decided to train her and surprise her dad. I took her diaper off that morning, and an hour later put it right back on. She was peeing with abandon and I was growing disproportionally frustrated. I decided that this potty training thing was not something I was interested in doing in our old farmhouse with the uncleanable floors and freezing temperatures.
So we waited. I wondered if I was missing the potty boat, but my hands always seemed full enough without trying that challenge out. Besides, her cousin was "potty trained" but the stories about all the accidents and, worse, tantrum messes made me sure *I* was not ready. Again, not in that house.
Finally, the new house was built. Hooray! We moved in in July and in August I was unpacked and ready to begin. In fact, at 3 and 2, I figured it was time to do BOTH girls. At once.
(Obviously I was not thinking at all)
The Princess was very upset at the loss of her diaper at first and then she didn't notice. At all. She just kept playing, even after an accident. She was completely oblivious, and the timed trips to the potty just frustrated her. Why is mom constantly interrupting my playtime? I was mopping many puddles.
On the other hand, Sweetpea noticed accidents but couldn't figure out where they were coming from. She'd stand still, screaming and crying that someone threw water on her as it trickled down her leg, shaking with fear of the unknown. I tried telling her "It's just pee, YOUR pee" over and over, but she wasn't getting it either.
I lasted until the diarrhoea started late in the afternoon.
I felt bad that I was so easily defeated by this one little aspect of parenthood, but I just couldn't hack it. My kids would be the absolute last amongst anyone I'd ever met to be potty trained. I'd just have to learn to live with that.
That October, the Princess turned 4 and I couldn't stand the idea of having a 4 year old in diapers. For her birthday that year, she got lots and lots of underwear. The next day she was told that 4 year olds don't wear diapers--it's the law. She spent the whole day on the potty, terrified she'd have an accident if she got up. It wasn't actually all that bad, as I put the potty in the living room and she played and watched TV and had a fun old time. The next day she sat on the potty again but was tired of the living room. She'd stand up, move the potty to where she wanted to play, then sit some more. By afternoon she was frustrated at being too short and began to stand, the potty at her side. Over the next couple of days she got farther and farther from the potty, until it lived in the bathroom once more. She was trained, and I hadn't had to clean up a mess.
NOT EVEN ONCE.
A couple of weeks later she announced that she didn't need a diaper for sleeping at night either and she was right. She had one nighttime accident the first month and we've never had a problem again.
This, my friends, is totally the way to go.
We kept encouraging Sweetpea, but she continued to wet herself and become ridiculously upset about it. She still wasn't cluing in to where this "water" was coming from or who was throwing it on her, but it made her crazy, so we'd put her back in the diapers. We got into a bit of a try, wait 2 months, try again cycle. It lasted until the Christmas she was 3. She got more new underwear and said she wanted to wear it. And wear it she did. One accident the first day, perfect after that. Again, the nighttime thing went smoothly with no accidents at all. Something had clicked for her developmentally and that was that.
My theory had been proven and my floors and furniture spared. HAH! Take that experts!
So, the lazy parent potty training record: 1 at age 4, one just 3 months shy of age 4.
And it worked for me!
Which brings us to now, and the boy, and my apparent forgetting of all that I know. We've been doing the try, wait, try again thing with him, same as the girls. It was obvious (to me) we just weren't ready. Except that we tried again at Easter. No luck, until AT LAST some pee in the potty, for which he was allowed an extra chocolate egg. Then an accident. The next day another lucky shot, for which I was grateful enough to give him one of my Lindt chocolates.
Apparently the quality of the bribe is important, because he spent the rest of the day peeing about every 15 minutes and munching chocolate. And when he found out I gave extra for poop? Lookout!
The boy was trained! Yippee! At 3 and a half precisely, he was my earliest success. Who says boys are harder to train than girls?
Then we ran out of Lindt.
And the bladder control magically ceased to exist.
I may be lazy but I'm not completely stupid. At this point I'd have to say that he's developmentally more than able, just not interested. So I have abandoned my lazy potty training for dedicated textbook style training.
I'd say that since then it's been a toss up as to who is training whom.
Every morning I give him nice clean underwear. Each day I lasted through 3 accidents before being disgusted enough to give him a diaper. Then I realized he was playing me and started making it through 5 accidents. I'm afraid that's where my tolerance for mopping, baths and laundry reached peak and it was back to the diaper. Every girl has her threshold.
On Monday my manipulation tolerance threshold finally peaked and overwhelmed my mess tolerance threshold. I took away the diapers.
It's been rough. I miss the lazy way. Why did I abandon the lazy way? Too late now though. We've officially burned our bridges and now the lesson is bigger than potty training.
So if any of you are still reading this, any advise? Any terrible stories you want to share? Any fellow late trainers out there?
And those of you who had children perfectly trained at 18 months, please don't tell me. I prefer to pretend you don't really exist.