Monday, April 19, 2010
Pavlov's Dogs & Potty Training
We started our family at a pretty young age. I was only twenty seven when we had our third child, K. As many of us know, something happens when we reach our thirties. I hesitate to call it 'maturity' because I've never seen my self as the maturing type, but there's a definite shift in our outlook, priorities, and approach to things. This theory is confirmed whenever I think back to the way I handled certain things in my twenties. (shudder) The word 'regret' doesn't begin to describe it.
When I got pregnant with our fourth child at the age of thirty five, things were different from the get go. As news of my pregnancy became public, the first question we were asked was, "Was this an oops?" That's a pretty natural assumption when your youngest is almost eight, but that's only because that's how many years it took me to talk my husband into getting his vasectomy reversed. So I guess you could say that C is the most planned of all.
I was already painfully aware that my metabolism in my 30's was practically non-existent compared to my 20's, so working out was a must. Gone were the days of 'eating for two' and enjoying the excuse to gain fifty pounds. And I still managed to gain thirty six pounds despite my efforts. And it didn't take long after she arrived to realize that I could survive on a whole lot less sleep when I was younger too. How I managed to make it to the age of thirty six with a baby who had her days and nights mixed up her entire first year is still nothing short of a miracle to me. When she turned one and became obsessed with coloring on my bedroom walls I simply sighed and repainted the wall......all four times that it happened. I can't remember, but I suspect my older three kids would have been spanked for that. (Let's hope they can't remember either.) Basically, my husband and I felt like we were first time parents, but a much 'wiser' version than we were the first time around. At least that's what we thought until it came time to potty train this one.....
For as many things that I feel I did wrong while parenting in my twenties, I had one thing that I felt like I did exactly right. (Indulge me as I pat myself on the back for a moment.) I was really good at potty training. When Z was two and a half, we spent our summer days outside. I parked his potty chair by the back door and our privacy fence allowed him to run free (and pant-less) and it literally took less than a week. Done. I did the same thing with A and K with the same success. So when C turned two, we bought a potty chair in preparation for our 'potty training boot camp' that summer. Things did not go as planned.
Don't get me wrong, she caught onto the potty feeling rather quickly. She just refused to use her potty chair and opted instead to hike her leg in the grass. While we were on vacation at the beach that summer, we would be playing out in the ocean and she would tell us she had to go potty. We would tell her to just go in the water. (Don't even act like you haven't done the same thing.) But she wouldn't do it and cried until we got her out of the water where she would very obviously hike her leg and pee on the sand. (And my husband would pretend not to know us.)
When she began going to the back door asking to be let out to go potty I knew something had gone terribly wrong with my flawless system and I knew it was either the dog's fault or my husband's for their grass peeing example. Regardless, something had to be done. It was time to un-do the redneck damage and retrain the toddler......enter Pavlov......if he could train a puppy, so could I.
To make a long story short, Ivan Pavlov became interested in the salivation habits of dogs. (Talk about someone with too much time on his hands.) So he began ringing a little bell every time he would feed the dogs. After a while, the dogs would begin salivating to the sound of the bell whether food was in sight or not. So I came up with a plan.....
I began sitting C on her potty chair on a regular basis and I came up with a potty song to sing each time she did. (To the tune 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star') "Tinkle Tinkle Little Star, then you'll get a candy bar. Put your potty in the chair, not in the grass or your underwear. Tinkle Tinkle Little Star, then you'll get a candy bar." In less than a week it was actually working......we had to start buying candy bars in bulk but it was worth it. We sang that song everywhere......at church, in Walmart, at the doctors office.....whenever she was distracted by going potty in a new place that song would send her into a potty trance and voila!
This has become my new advice for moms, but I need to warn you that there are some side effects......your toddler won't be the only one trained to the song......one evening we had to stop in a company parking lot because C couldn't hold it till we got home. I was holding her beside the van and she just couldn't go. As the company's employees were making their way to their cars my faithful little family sang the potty song and C immediately peed on the concrete.....and then we sped home and fought over the bathrooms because suddenly we all had to go. My husband admitted to using it at the doctors office recently and I can't even tell you how many times I've peed in the twenty minutes it's taken me to type this blog entry. Speaking of which, gotta go!
How bout you? Got any potty training success (or better yet horror) stories you'd like to share?