Thursday, September 22, 2011

Notes on Potty Training Boys

I spent some time recently with a friend of mine who is in the midst of potty training her son. Although I am well past those hectic days of potty runs and near misses I can clearly remember the stress and frustration that went along with those potty training days. Changing diapers wasn't my favourite thing to do but it wasn't the worst either. The worst was continually being on high alert in case of a potty emergency. The worst was scouting out bathrooms everywhere we went, asking 'do you need the potty?' every five minutes and doing a mad dash across church, malls and parks while carrying your crying, peeing toddler as onlookers gawk and try to avoid the stream of urine you leave streaming behind you.

That was the worst.

Each of my kids learned the potty thing in their own time and in their own way but I have to say that potty training a boy is a different thing all together than training a girl. I don't think one gender is easier than the other, just different. Here are a few notes for those of you about to or in the midst of potty training your boy. These are lessons I've learned the hard way ... I hope you'll have an easier 'go' of things!

1.   The Gravity of the Situation - One morning I met my friends at Tim Horton's for a coffee before we took our kids over to the library for story time. As my pal was in line, placing her order, her little guy, Robbie started doing the pee pee dance. I offered to take the newly potty trained, three year old Robbie to the bathroom. Once we were in the stall he told me that he was a 'sitter' so I helped him up onto the toilet and asked him if he was good to go, he gave me the thumbs up and let it loose.

What happened next was something I had never experienced before in all my years of babysitting, nannying and motherhood. Robbie turned into Old Faithful. A golden stream of urine was jetting out from between his legs and splattering all over me and him and the bathroom stall. Not knowing what to do, I picked the still peeing Robbie up, flipped him over and pointed his rogue stream toward the toilet.

LESSON LEARNED ... What goes up must come down and gravity can only get you so far when you are dealing with boy parts. Point the pee-pee down before you let it fly!

2.   The Standing vs. Sitting Debate - By the time Dude was three and a half he could construct impressive Lego buildings, identify more than a dozen different types of dinosaurs and knew every line from every Veggie Tales video made at the time. He was smart, there was no disputing that, but the boy could not figure out that whole potty thing.

I had a friend who had four sons and she trained them all to sit when they peed, she said it was easier and there was far less mess. So, trusting her experience and wishing to avoid the dreaded pee-pee mess, I attempted to train Dude the same way. No dice. He hated sitting on the potty, he thought the splash cone was going to cut his penis and he didn't like the feel of the seat. Once we did finally fight/bribe him to sit down on the potty he had no idea what he was expected to do there.

One day Mr. Awesome said that enough was enough and he took the kid into the bathroom with him and shut the door, it was a 'No Mommy Zone.' I busied myself in the kitchen while the boys did their thing. After a couple of minutes I heard Little Dude exclaim, "That's what I do?!" A 'stander' was created and the rest is history.

LESSON LEARNED ... Seeing is better than telling and Lysol wipes are invaluable when you have a three year old 'stander'.

3.   The Perils of Number 2 - The problem with teaching your boy to be a 'stander' is that not all things can be done standing. About two months after Dude mastered the art of peeing we went on vacation. At this point he was still letting us know when he had to Go 2 so we could help him but one morning, while staying at my cousin's house, he decided he could do it himself. Mr. Awesome and I were laying on the bed with the bathroom door open so we could help him if he needed it but we soon got distracted with Baby Crafty. It wasn't until I happened to glance over to see if Dude was done yet that I realised we had a problem. While Dude was standing to pee he had made a little 2 Pile. That was a one time event, an accident, but with Mischief it was a whole different ball game!

Mischief would not Go 2 on the potty. He has always been a PJ boy, and his M.O. for dealing with The 2 was to hide in closets or behind furniture to do his thing and then tell us he went 'somewhere'. We would then have to call a 'Poop Hunt' and everyone would search all of his favourite spots until someone found the deposit so it could be cleaned up. This phase lasted for a couple of months until we 'consequenced' it out of him (he had to get dressed with underwear and button up pants everyday until this Go 2 on the Go stopped ... a fate worse than death for The PJ Kid!).

LESSON LEARNED ... Sitting has its perks and  Lysol wipes are invaluable when you have a three year old Poop Runner.

4.   The Attention Deficit Dilemma - The best thing about potty training Mischief is that once we got the Go 2 under control, life was a breeze. Right from the start this kid has had amazing bladder capacity. We could spend an afternoon running errands without having to stop for a bathroom break once! Its actually quite impressive. The problem came when we got home and he finally 'went'. His bladder capacity was greater than his ability to stay focused resulting in frequent incidents of spillage.

We tried everything! Cheerios in the toilet, pictures on the wall, more frequent potty stops ... nothing worked. The boy had the Austin Powers Pee Gene and the attention span of a goldfish and there was nothing we could do about it. We would walk by the bathroom in the morning and see the kid leaning against the wall, peeing while looking more bored than you could imagine. We would hear him occasionally exclaim, 'Why is this taking so long?!' but there's nothing we could do until we tapped into his competitive side.

We had him start counting how long each pee took and asking him if he had broken his last record yet. That way he was practising his counting and staying focused on the task at hand, so to speak.

LESSON LEARNED ...  Boys will compete for any title and  Lysol wipes are invaluable when you have a three year old Pee Champion.

5.   We Don't Do That Here! - The one perk to potty training that the boys picked up on right away was the freedom to Go anywhere, anytime. Almost. In those early Diaper Free days, (Who are we kidding? We still have these conversations from time to time!) we had to have frequent chats about the appropriateness of where and when. A tree in Auntie Char's country yard is okay, the display toilets in Home Depot are not okay. A mile road during a five hour drive is okay, Pier One parking lot on a pre-Christmas Saturday afternoon is not okay. A ditch on the way to the lake is okay, the garden in front of the school is not okay.

We also had to have a talk about how many streams can reasonably flow into the same toilet at the same time. Before Mischief started school my friends and I would meet at each other's houses for coffee after we dropped the older kids off at school on Friday mornings. The moms would sit around and chat over coffee and the kids (mostly boys) would super hero their way around the house for a couple of hours.

At one such coffee morning we noticed that the house was unnaturally quiet. My friend went to investigate what the boys were up to. Turns out they were attempting a group pee session. She broke up the pee party and told the boys they'd have to take turns. In case you're wondering an average toilet can handle three pee streams fine, four is inviting a mess!

LESSON LEARNED ...  Lysol wipes are invaluable when you have a three year old boy ... PERIOD!

The way i figure it, peer pressure will get to them in Junior High and then they'll use the toilet. Until then I'm not going to worry about it too much.
~Some Random Mother

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