My life right now is a little messy. "Mary, put on your diaper," I'll demand. "No, I, Naked," she'll respond. Well, hello, Naked.
The fact is, it is time to bite the bullet and train her. I really don't like potty-training.
I am amused by all the resources available to help a parent decide if the child is ready to be potty-trained. We don't wonder if it's time to teach a child how to use a fork or spoon. We don't ask all our friends if our child is old enough to be quiet in church. We don't look for signs to indicate that our child is ready to use words like "please" and "thank you." We just do it. Raising children is a process, not an event.
Experience with my kids has taught me one thing about toilet training: it is not so much the child who needs to be ready...it is the parent. Many people criticize the EC crowd by saying, "The child isn't trained, it's the parent who is trained." Perhaps. I'm not jumping on the EC bandwagon, but I would like to point out that these parents are not changing diapers, right? As I find out just how quickly I can dash from the dining room table to the bathroom with a naked toddler in my arms, I fail to see how the training process isn't parent conditioning as well, no matter the age you begin.
It would be nice if kids trained themselves. My daughter, Katie, did when she was just 2. It was great. Most kids eventually will. You might have to wait 5 or 6 years for that, though. And honestly, if diapers were socially acceptable, I think my older boys would prefer them to actually having to stop playing baseball or riding their bikes or chasing bad guys. Girls at some point prefer cleanliness. Boys, at least mine, prefer convenience.
Sometimes moms prefer convenience, too. That's where I find myself right now. Toilet training is work, and I just don't want more work at the moment. Or so I think. This toddler who presents me with stinky diaper in hand is surely not making my life easy. So I have put together a quiz to help myself and other moms decide if now is the time to begin training. Give yourself one point for every "yes" and a half point for every half yes.
1. Are you tired of changing diapers?
2. If you use primarily disposable diapers, are you eager add $100 a month or so to another line item in your budget? If you use primarily cloth diapers, would you like to have more hours in the week to do something other than laundry?
3. Is your child refusing to wear diapers (or screaming in agony if you force the issue)?
4. Do you have the patience of a mule? If no, can you fake it?
5. Do you have absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to go for the next week or two? If no, do you have room in your vehicle for a kid potty and five extra outfits?
6. Do you think
7. Is partial or complete nudity of the trainee socially acceptable to all members of your household? If no, do you mind doing an extra load of wet and soiled clothes every day for the next week or two or three?
8. Do you have only tile and/or wood floors in your home? If no, do you own a steam cleaner? If no, is the outdoor temperature above 70 degrees? If no, do you have the patience of a mule without faking it as well as a supply of rug cleaner?
9. Can you run 20 feet in 10 seconds at the first indication of a need to "go"?
10. Are you prepared to observe closely and to drop everything the instant you hear a whispered "potty", see a child grab the crotch area, or notice that particular look on a child's face?
11. Do you know the location of every public bathroom for every single store or outdoor venue you plan to attend in the next few weeks?
12. Do you own a large supply of worn towels or rags?
Less than 4 points: If you have children, they are still infants. Please realize that kids are messy. You need to budget for a steam cleaner and save those burp cloths for many future spills.
4 - 8 points: You like the idea of having trained children, but aren't ready to deal with the mess and inconvenience. Inevitably, you and your child will have to do this, but now is not yet the time. Work on patience, stock up on cleaning supplies and start noticing where the public toilets are.
More than 8 points: You are physically and mentally prepared to dive into potty training. It's not going to just "happen" miraculously, so get to it already!
I scored a 10, so I think I know what I'll be doing for the next few weeks.