Yesterday I received news you dream of hearing. It wasn’t that I had won the lottery, or that I had become fully hydrated without having to drink water, or that John Krasinski had become my fan on Facebook. It was that Madeline had gone pee-pee in the potty at preschool. It’s a first.
For weeks, she has been admiring her Minnie Mouse panties from afar, talking about them as though she were already a veteran panty-wearer. “You have panties yike my Mee-Mouse panties, Mommy,” she says.
“Yes, I do,” I reply. “Except I keep mine dry and clean.” That’s when I drop my mic, turn my hat around backwards, and saunter away, leaving an explosion of shame shrapnel behind me. Not that she notices.
You might remember the years of my life that went in to potty training Drew, and the untold damage done to my psyche and probably my physical body as a result. I look back on those months as my ‘Nam, me sweating through tank tops while hyperventilating in the stifling, poopy jungle of Thomas The Tank Engine briefs. I don’t think I’ve received proper counseling for that combat. My right eye still hasn’t stopped twitching.
As those years recede into memory, I try to keep from taking Drew’s potty-train-ed-ness for granted. I tell myself that no matter how difficult Madeline will be to potty train, no one, and I mean NO ONE, could be as hard as Drew. Granted, he still approximates the location of the toilet every morning in his bathroom, leaving sheer rings of evaporated yellow to taunt me. Granted, I was up until 10 p.m. on Monday night grinding a kilo of Clorox into the grout of his bathroom floor in an effort to purge the pee demons that just don’t quit with the odor. Granted, he isn’t the best wiper in the world, and still I send up popcorn prayers before scalding his laundry every Wednesday.
But Madeline could never, ever, compete with that. Right? The possibility was haunting me.
And then yesterday, in the presence of dear Miss Linda, my fairy princess Madeline birthed a new era into the training potty and put my doubts to rest. For her efforts, she received a pink M&M. I would have bought her a Barbie car, though, if she had asked me because I get very disproportionate and weird when it comes to all of this.
Fortunately, I had only begun to get desperate. It was about two weeks ago when Maddie first agreed to sit on the toilet. Up to that point, she wouldn’t even acknowledge its presence in the bathroom, much less sit her pristine little bottom atop it. And suddenly, there she was, reading about Big Bird with half her body sunk down into the void of the bowl, her pink toes gripping the cold, white sides. I was excited at first, thrilled. She was sitting on the potty up to three times a day, bringing her book along, or maybe a doll and the doll’s potty.
Most of us find it nearly impossible to sit on a commode without relieving ourselves, but this month I’ve learned this is actually a conditioned response. After two weeks and approximately 45 potty seatings, Maddie still wasn’t doing the deed and this was starting to make me uncomfortable. (Not stage IV labor uncomfortable, but definitely princess-in-the-pea uncomfortable.) Was it the start of a bad habit versus of a necessary warm-up exercise?
I don’t know how preschool teachers do it, yet they always find a way. There’s just something magical about them, I suppose, something within that makes a fairy princess want to please.
But I guess anything beats G.I. Mommy in a sweaty tank top.
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