Potty Training as a Grandparent

If you had kids who now have kids of their own I assume you potty trained the now adult people. It’s unlikely they went off to their high school proms in diapers. I remember the days of potty-training and, honestly, it wasn’t terribly hard on me or the kids. Even when our grandchildren started coming along and we had them for extended visits the potty issue never put an iota of fear in my heart.

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When I was getting ready to potty-train my kids it felt like no big deal. Tiny people came into the world and, eventually, they stopped wearing diapers and started using the potty. I think it was the hubris of the young that made me so confident. After all, I’d been successfully potty-trained as had all of my friends. How tough could it be to pass on the secrets of going in a potty to my babies? It never occurred to me that parents can have trouble training their kids. And, to be honest, the process wasn’t all that difficult. It wasn’t an overnight victory but it wasn’t a battle. And this summer I’ll be doing it again when our out-of-state grand kids come for their visit. Our youngest grandson will be working on the transition from diapers to big boy pants.

At first, when I realized his parents and I would be working on his potty-training together, albeit hundreds of miles apart, I got nervous. I don’t know why. It’s not as if baby boys suddenly have different equipment than they did when my boys were young or even when our older grandson was training. And the end game hasn’t changed. Nevertheless, it made me a bit apprehensive. I think because I did something this time as a grandparent I hadn’t even considered as a parent. I researched the topic. Big mistake.

I had no idea how many websites, books, videos, and off-Broadway musicals have now sprung up around the whole peeing and pooping in the potty thing. There may have been a lot of information available when my kids were tiny but I doubt there was quite as much since there was no internet and even cable television was new. Couple that with the fact that mothers then pretty much got most of their parenting know-how from their own mothers and reading a book on potty-training seemed a little out there.Now parents and grandparents are bombarded with advice from everywhere. And a lot of it is conflicting advice.

There are charts that state when babies will start to stay dry during the night and the timelines are different for boys and girls. Girls are, according to this formula, more precocious than boys when it comes to being able to sleep and hold in urine. This is no doubt nature’s way of training girls to multi-task for when they’re adults and talking on the phone, while cooking, letting the dog outside, and answering a never ending stream of questions from their own 2 year old children. Apparently it takes boys about 6 months longer, per this article, to catch up. As a woman I can say that the time it takes for guys to catch up to what girls know gets longer and longer as the boys grow into men.

There are even “systems: you can purchase that claim to make potty-training quick and easy.  I suppose it’s possible but I tend to suspect that the only quick and easy about potty-training is the money people make on “systems.”

Others claim that the ways women my age used to train their kids are “dangerously outdated.” Dangerous? Do they think we held their little heads under water until they agreed to go in the potty?

Let me go back to when my oldest boy was potty-training. There were two little boys just about his age who were training at the same time. All three of us mothers thought it was time to start. Mostly because our own mothers were asking, “Isn’t it time to start potty-training?” I quickly realized my son had absolutely no idea what those feelings in his abdomen were so he couldn’t even begin to put them together with the idea of going in the potty. I left him in diapers but also left the potty in place. From time to time I’d ask if he wanted to use the potty and he obliged me by sitting on it. Once in a while, purely by chance, he’d actually do something while he was there. We’d have a little celebration when he did. I even had a song I sang when he actually did something on the potty other than look bored and occasionally touch himself. Over time, he started to put two and two together.

Meanwhile, my friends had their boys in big boy pants which back then were bulky items meant to absorb all the accidents that come with training and were actually like putting your child in sponges that would express vast quantities of pee-pee when they sat down. Usually on the couch. They were avidly pursuing the potty-training dream. It was as if they were after gold medals in the potty Olympics. They spent so much time in sitting on the tile floors of their bathrooms cajoling and pleading with their boys to go in the potty they had grout lines etched into their own bottoms.

Eventually all three boys left diapers behind and are now grown men who never wear diapers nor have accidents in their boxers. The difference was that the other two boys spent a lot of time crying on the potty because they didn’t want to be there and their moms spent a lot of time frustrated and, I’m sure, losing confidence.

So, after reading too many articles and viewing too many videos I’ve decided I’m going to use exactly the same method I used in the past. I’m going to have the potty and the Potty Pirate© book ready. I’ll have M&M’s® on hand as rewards. Yes, I’ll bribe him with candy. Live with it. And I’m not going to stress either of us out over training. I know he’s not going to walk down the aisle to get married sporting a tuxedo and a diaper. Of course, by that time, I’ll probably be in a Depends®.

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