Toilet Training Makes Mom a Prisoner

baby-boy-hat-covered-101537BY KATHY P. BEHAN

Now I know how the prisoner of Zenda felt. No, I’m not incarcerated in jail — worse, I’m held prisoner by the whims of my almost three-year-old’s bladder. We’ve begun that age-old parent breaker known as toilet training. This is a test to see whose will is stronger, the parents’ or the child’s (Always put your money on the kid). We were supposed to go shopping this morning, but when venturing out with a child who can barely manage to “put his pee in the pot,” I’m loathe to take a chance on a number two accident (and Brendan’s currently four hours past his usual pooping time).

By all rights, Brendan and I should find this particular right of passage a breeze. After all, I’ve been down this road before with son number one. And because of Cullen’s willingness to show his brother the fine art of “whizzing” (his favorite name for it), and has caught on to our praise-Brendan-like-crazy-when-he-does-it correctly ploy, you’d think the little guy would, if you’ll pardon the pun, aim to please.

No such luck. This kid is the personification of the Italian expression gabadost, meaning stubborn (literally hardheaded). And like the Burger King jingle he’s got to have it his way. His way, depending on his mood, means indiscriminate peeing wherever and whenever the mood strikes.

In my heart, I know he’s not out to get me. After all, parents throughout the centuries have been turning themselves inside out trying to get their offspring to perform the most natural of biological functions in the correct location. They probably struck out a lot too. But at least you can’t blame us for lack of effort. Along with the “praise the successes” method, we’ve also tried various types of bribery — stickers, candy bars, big boy underwear with his favorite cartoon characters on them, even cold hard cash, without much luck.

I hate to admit it but I think it’s time to retreat. Brendan will be ready when he’s ready, and there’s no sense driving us all crazy in the meantime.

Wait. What’s this. He’s running toward me clutching his crotch and yelling, “Quick, I need to pee!”

I rush him to the toilet where he performs perfectly and then walks nonchalantly back into the playroom.

Kathy P. Behan, a mother of three, is a nationally published freelance writer, specializing in health and family issues.

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