16 November 2009

The Potty. The Bathmat. And Me.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, M and I sat down and decided that at age 18 months, this tiny bundle of...bundle of...well...bundle would start to potty train. It seemed reasonable. We had a friend who had successfully trained each one of her grandchildren at that very age in just 3 days each. We teased her that she'd be training ours too...but of course, we didn't really intend to torture a dear friend that way. Or did we?

Back then, it seemed an eternity away - a pie in the sky notion, a bridge not to be crossed for a long time.

But on Columbus Day, A turned 18 months and she has actually taken any decision on our parts with respect to the where and when she will potty train completely out of our hands, crumpled it up, chewed on it a bit, stomped on it and then tossed it in the garbage ("What a wonderful help you are, Bean!" I proudly exclaim).

You see, our not-so-little bundle of....bundle, started getting interested in just what exactly goes on behind that closed bathroom door when Mommy or Daddy are occupying it about two months ago. As a result of that, neither M nor myself have had much private time to sit, do our business and escape the clamor of the household. The child insists on following us in and repeatedly pointing between our legs yelling, "PEE! PEEPAH-EE MAMA!!!! PEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Occasionally, she'll pepper the running PEE dialogue with, "Poop? Toot?" [facepalm]

In spite of her obvious willingness to learn to secrets of the privy, we didn't push. We were in the throes of some major issues and life changes and were trying to keep the routine as close to normal as possible for her. We moved a month and a half ago and we're still not pushing. In fact, the idea of potty training at 18 months had really just sort of fallen off of our radar.

But, about 3 weeks after the move, at Babies R Us (shopping for new feety pajamas no less), the little bean broke free and ran, shrieking with delight and yelling, "GO GO GO!!!!" across the store faster than it took me to fling the pajamas I was inspecting, fall on my face and recover and get after her. She had actually gotten out of my line of sight, but fortunately, she's loud. Oh so very loud. So I followed her siren noises (she makes those too when on A Mission) and found that she was at the back of the store, investigating the training potties.

"Pah-ee, Mama!" she pointed excitedly. "PAH-EE!!" I was a little put off that she recognized a plastic frog as a potty (and it was) but realized that what she really recognized was the picture of the smiling cherub sitting in the familiar potty position on the box. And so it went. Every potty she could reach was pulled out, sat upon, fondled, examined and put into two piles: "Maybe" and "Nooooo". All of this was done by her and her alone while I stood, open mouthed in awe and just a little bit of horror, and sort of...let her comparison shop.
She finally settled on the cheapest potty, a simple tan and green affair that converts to a step stool and is made of sustainable materials. It's the Nature's Way Eco Potty. I should note that, while I do not consider myself an Eco-Warrior or even very green (nor do I care all that much either), I do make a point to recycle a lot and I have been buying environmentally friendly cleaners. But it's not a general point of discussion in the household, so I had to laugh silently as she passed by all of the flashy, fun potties for something so simple, so cheap and so...green!

She wanted to carry her "pah-ee" herself and as she toddled back to find Daddy and show him, she also stopped to show every single person along the way. She proudly held out her self selected potty and, with an ear to ear grin would exclaim, "PAH-EE!!" I got a few wan smiles, some confused looks and a couple of good laughs in my general direction, but A was wholly unphased by the lack of excited response from strangers. She was simply too proud to be carrying, in her arms, her very own potty.

The night she brought the potty home beaming with pride she spent nearly the entire post-dinner, pre-bed time sitting on it, waiting to pee. The lack of anything happening while actually on the potty hasn't discouraged her one bit. It's her potty, it's her choice, it's her excitement.

Since then, she takes it on herself to sit on it each night. Nothing has happened in it yet, though not for lack of her checking to see. She'll look between her legs and then look up, beaming, and ask, "Pee?" Sometimes, she'll stand up and check the catch basin to see if anything materialized. Tonight, of course, she sat. She checked. She beamed. Nothing. So, she got up and began throwing her bath toys into the filling tub...and peed.

All I could do was sigh and think, well, we're getting closer. She peed by the potty...

But that night - the first night living in a house with a baby potty nestled next to ours, after she had gone to bed, M and I sat on the back porch, watching the stars and I tried not to cry a little. As I explained to him - while the prospect of not having to buy diapers anymore is an exciting one and I can finally see the light of a diaper free household dawning on the distant horizon, the very fact that our daughter, at 18 months, chose, on her own, to pick out a potty and try to use it is just a little heartbreaking. She's no longer a little bundle of warm, sweet smelling, independent cheerful joy. She's fast turning into a big bundle of warm, sweet smelling, independent cheerful joy - with her own very articulate thoughts and one calling her own shots. In short, she's growing up and doing it just a little bit faster than I thought I was ready for.


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