Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was gut wrenching cry that could have only come from my two-year-old daughter.
I heard the pitter-patter of running footsteps from the down the hall, growing louder as she approached. I decided this was something that I should probably take notice of so I adjusted my seating position on the couch to how I imagined Dads should sit following hearing this noise: upright & authoritative.
She ran in sobbing. Eyes portraying fear and pain in equal measure. (I immediate rectified my posture, instantly regretting my previous poor choice.) I sat her on to my knee, hugging her, until she calmed down enough that her words were slightly more understandable. She was obviously scared.
From what I was able to understand something in her room had frightened her. This was curious as it was the middle of day, but I wasn’t completely surprised considering being scared of stuff was a thing recently: her pajamas, the curtains in her room, my face first thing in the morning.
We approached her room hand-in-hand, with me leading the way, all the time coaxing her to come along and show me what scared her. And there it was. Like a jewel in the sunshine. An impossibly large turd on the carpet.
That was day three of potty training.
Since Yasmin turned two we always knew this was something that would have to be done. My wife and I spoke about it, planned for it, booked holiday time specifically to do this, but there was always something that got in the way.
This went on the better part of a year, until I had to take time off over Christmas and New Year. My wife, for all her enviable skills, can only be in one place at one time and considering that Leo was not yet three months old, I made a commitment to myself that I’d see this through. And 6 days later…
Actually, Day 1 wasn’t where it started. Sorry about that.
I should go back to Day minus 3 in the time running up to Christmas. I told my wife that I was steeled to get this done so in the days before, we started to tell to Yasmin “After Father Christmas comes, no more nappies”.
We later decided to rephrase this in case it was misinterpreted that Santa Claus’ sole purpose was to steal the nappies from small sleeping children, thus ruining Christmas day forever.
In the end, this was changed to “After Christmas, No More Nappies”. We repeated this to her, fairly consistently, at random points during the day until it became our mantra.
Also during this time, we began to get her used to the idea of sitting on the plastic throne. So when either of us went to the bathroom, she would also sit on her Big Girl’s potty. This took some getting used but eventually she warmed to the idea that she’d allow us to pull down her training-pants so that she was sitting, naked from the waist down, on the potty.
I started to think what we’d need:
- Potty – Check. We’d already bought one during a previous trial run that lasted about an hour.
- Reward Chart – Check. Again from the same failed attempt
- Dettol – Check but I erred on the side of caution and placed an order.
- Plastic Sheets to turn our home into the set of Dexter – I was informed this was overkill
The morning of Day 1 was like any other morning, but with the exception that once she was changed out of her nappy, it was not replaced. In fact, I didn’t dress her bottom-half at all that day.
From the howls of protest, you would have thought that nappies were a family heirloom being snatched by an evil relative. The howls subsided however when I may have mentioned her favourite breakfast.
I moved the potty into the living room and maintained a steady schedule of asking her every minute if pee or poo was coming. The answer was no.
The answer was no for twenty long, arduous minutes. The second hand on my watch ticked over, each time completing a minute when I was allowed to ask her again.
Then suddenly, I heard a yes.
“Quick!” I yelled. “Sit on the potty.”
As it turns out, yelling at a half-naked toddler with questionable bladder control defeated the purpose of what we were trying to achieve. Nevertheless, I steadied myself, told her matter-of-factly that accidents happen and cleaned it up.
It carried on like this over the next couple of hours, with me plying her with water and juice, and with every hour she made it that bit closer to the potty.
It wasn’t until about midday that she made her first successful pee in the potty. This was a big deal. I made a complete fuss of her, told her what big girl she was and gave bundles of warm hugs.
Shortly after we marched straight into the bathroom, emptied the contents into the toilet and made a big song and dance as we waved goodbye to pee. I lifted her up to her reward chart where she proudly placed her first star.
I think the success went to my head. I decided that the reward chart wasn’t enough and that she deserved a treat. I scanned the half-empty fridge (I’d not been shopping), dug out a BabyBel cheese, cut it in half and presented it to her telling her “this is for being a good girl and peeing in your potty”.
The remainder of Day 1 progressed very well. With the exception of one further accident where she sat and missed the potty seat, all subsequent pees were on target and I was feeling quite smug.
That night, I dressed her for bed with a Huggies Nighttime pull-up, explaining that nappies are for nighttime and she fell soundly asleep.
That night I was regaling my wife of today’s exploits when I suddenly realized she’d not poo’d today. Trouble was brewing…
Today I decided to push the boundaries a little.
As she’d done so well the day before, I decided to move the potty into the hallway. I maintained my steady, mind-numbing questions but I also pushed this out to every five minutes instead of every one. This seemed to work a treat. She’d answer me and if it was a yes, we’d run to the potty, have a pee, flush it away and get a reward.
During one of the four minutes I reflected on the past day and decided to update my list of essentials:
- Potty – Check.
- Reward Chart – Check.
- Dettol – Check
- BabyBel Cheese reward– perhaps not as I wasn’t sure that much dairy was good for anyone, let alone a toddler who hadn’t yet poo’d for a day and a half.
Having decided against giving anymore cheese as a reward for peeing, I decided to bake some button-sized cookies to give as reward and keep the cheese as reserve for the big one.
Generally, I don’t bake, but nor do usually I rearrange the music collection twice, decide on a favourite mug or gaze longingly out the windows.
The day progressed without incident or accident.
I’d not left the house in over two days and Cabin Fever had set in.
I began to question if my ‘Hard-Brexit’ approach was right and if it was a good idea to put her in a nappy just to leave the house.
Suddenly, selfless thoughts of putting a nappy on to go to the park ‘so she could get out’ morphed into also ‘popping by the shops’ and ‘grabbing a bite to eat on the way home’.
Right now move your tongue across the gap between your front teeth. That’s how close I was to convincing myself.
It was right about then that I heard the scream, adjusted my appalling seated posture and lead a small child towards a small mountain on the floor.
I followed my customary ‘accident’ routine, letting her known accidents happen in a reassuring tone and with the Tesco plastic bag performed what I’d seen hundreds of considerate dog-walkers do when out and about.
Having emptied her bowels of a ton of cheese, Yasmin was a joy for the rest of the day. She even began to tell me that pee was coming and got to the potty with time to spare.
I was gutted with the poo incident, but I also knew I needed to get out. I was beginning to day-dream horrible fates for Iggle Piggle and the rest of the night garden family.
I had to take it up a notch to maintain the progress, so I added to the list:
- Potty – Check.
- Reward Chart – Check.
- Dettol – Check
- BabyBel Cheese reward– I ordered some more
- John Lewis Girl Briefs – Ordered (lots)
- Potette Plus 2-in-1 Travel Potty – Ordered for next day delivery
- Potette Plus Disposable Liners – Yes, I’ll need those too
- Koo-di Wetec Car Seat Protector – When in Rome
God bless you Amazon Prime
Screw you Amazon Prime! Don’t you know how early it is? For god’s sake, were you waiting around the corner for me to press ‘Checkout’?
Following a quick coffee, I felt much more human and inspected the contents. Aside from the bubble wrap, everything I expected to be in the box was there.
After a few hours the underwear was washed and dried and I introduced Yasmin to her new ‘Big Girl pants’. These were a hit.
Over the course of the next few hours Yasmin solidly practiced – initially unsuccessfully – the art of pulling down underwear before peeing. I’ll happily let you know that I had to demonstrate this to her several times to much laughter before she could understand the concept fully. I quickly put a stop to it when requests were made for me to perform. I realized I’d hit rock-bottom. I’d not been outside in 4 days.
It was a few hours later when I was Tom Hanks and the potty was an old volleyball with a face drawn on it called Wilson that I heard “Daddy! Poo coming!”
Poo came – by god did it come – but what was most important was where it went. That’s right, she did it! SHE DID IT!!!!!!!
Cue hugs, kisses, applause and the arrival of a passing cargo ship to rescue me.
I’m pleased to announce that I picked up that travel potty and marched her straight down the park.
Buoyed by the success of the previous day, rapid progress seen to date and that I wanted to play with a new toy (despite it being a car seat cover for child) I forced everyone to get up and out early the next morning.
By now Yasmin was telling us every time she needed to pee so the questions were asked every 20 to 30 minutes with pee’s only every hour or so. Being cautious I packed almost every item of clothing Yasmin owned as spares and my wife, son (who I’d barely seen for the better part of a week) Yasmin and I all went out as a family to the park again
We had a great time in the park but I got cocky. I took it one step too far and I got burned.
Arriving at the local restaurant for a bite to eat on the way home, I took Yasmin out of the car and felt the dampness. It could have been worse and on the plus side, I’m pleased to report the Koo-di Wetec Car Seat Protector is frankly an awesome piece of stitched towel over a plastic sheet.
Later, I even had the double pleasure of road testing the Potette Plus Travel Potty. This was quite an exciting moment for me as I’d been practicing at home what I’ve coined the ‘Quick Release Technique’.
Swish! And it’s out of the carry case. Click! And it’s a free-standing potty. Click! And it unfolds into a toilet trainer! Swish again! And it’s slipped out of my hands flying across the room almost smashing the mirror.
Once I’d stopped messing about Yasmin was quite happily using this, chatting away in the restaurant loo.
That night, as my head hit the pillow, I let myself have a little smile and thought that I might have just about cracked th–
“Daddy, I need to pee!”
I had created a monster.
Today, we went out, played, messed around at home and all without an accident.
I’d wanted a clear day for peace of mind that it wasn’t just a fluke.
Thinking back how far we’d come in such a short space of time I’ve got to admit that I’m a very proud dad and but also quite sad that my little baby is quickly turning into a little girl.
Of course, I know that she’s not yet trained at night, but something tells me she might start to do this on her own.