I had procrastinated long enough. Summer, winter. Ready, not ready. It didn’t matter. There was never going to be a good time. Hickory dickory dock. The tick tock of the clock was beginning to rattle my cage. I had avoided the issue long enough. Now there were only 39 days until B day and the number 3 was on my mind. But what could be so fearsome as to warrant the complex web of excuses [forward-slash, “delay tactics”], that I’d spun myself? I’d been there and done it all before, so what was the big drama? Well, apparently everyone else around me had also been there and done it all before me. And as if that wasn’t enough, even my own social media sites were on board, prodding me with unnervingly omniscient pop-ups peddling subliminal messages, such as: “Start potty training for the most stubborn child in 3 days flat”.
There was nothing subliminal about that.
Nope. My baby was about to come of age. She was about to turn 3, but she wasn’t yet ticking any of the boxes on the potty training check-list. How could it be that she wasn’t showing any signs of discomfort when her nappy was sodden and soiled? How was it possible that she was still blissfully unaware that she was peeing and pooing in her pants? Why the hell did she show zero interest in accompanying me on any of my dirty toilet stops? And why was she the only kid on the block demonstrating no signs whatsoever of giving a shit? [pun fully intended.] This was the ultimate piss take. The text-books had got it wrong. Again.
“All in good time,” apparently. “They all get there in the end”. Well of course! But I was sick of condescending comments from well-wishers, whose wonder-kids had done away with diapers and polished off the potty routine at just 18 months. I was bored of justifying my nearly-3-year-old’s bottom behaviour to the board of “benchmark” questioners, whose interest in my child’s toileting was quite simply irritating. And finally, I was tired of comparing my little-one’s bulging backside to the mile-stone-hitting, knicker-bocker brigade, whose peachy buttock cheeks were all the more squeezable for their obvious lack of VNL (visible nappy line).
There was only one thing for it. I had a 5-day window in which my diary was glaringly bare, save for the letters P.O.T.T.Y. After that, I had places to go, people to see and planes to catch. The pressure was intense. There was no room for “accidents”. No time for ill-preparedness. So, psyched up to the max, I armed myself with all precautionary measures: a pair of marigolds, plastic sheets for every inch of carpet, 3 bottles of anti-bac spray and all manner of potties, thrones and portable toilet-seats. Not to mention enough cutesy, frilly, character knickers, sticker charts, prizes and chocolate treats to entice even the most stubborn of little madams. It was time to face up to the faeces: I was about to embark upon the unenviable week-long piss-up that would turn this baby into a “Big Girl.” Like it or not.
But like it or not, I was well and truly on my own now. For unlike most men who don’t mind getting their hands dirty from time to time, my old man tends to play at being “otherwise engaged” when the shit hits the nappy. And land him in an unplanned poo predicament, then he will inevitably run a mile. “Honey, you’re so much better than me in these situations.” Well, after all, it is me who remains cool, calm and collected in a crap crisis. It is me who is able to adopt at least the semblance of patience, whilst wading my way, knee-deep through someone else’s piss and shit. And I am the one who is always the only adult persevering with gritted teeth and an over-zealous, pseudo-smile that silently screams “I’m a mother, get me out of here!” I was under no illusions. There was no way my other half, father of my children, was going to get stuck in to this most momentous of milestones. It was clear that this was going to be a “job” for the woman of the house. And this woman wasn’t going to like it. Not. One. Little. Bit.
And as predicted, after one singular day of losing at playing “Spot the Potty”, by Day Two I was suicidal. Following her round on an imaginary leash, I was not going to let this child out of my sight. “I must not take my eyes of her! I must not leave the room!” It’s of no surprise then, that on the one occasion in which I did turn my back, all hell broke loose. This child, who was once my angelic, neatly-parcelled bundle of joy, was basking in the glory of her new-found freedom. Taunting and terrorising me, she sprayed her stuff in every nook of every room, in every cranny of every cupboard, over every toy in every drawer. There was no place left un-christened by the tinkle tankle of her golden baby-showers. The house had become a dumping ground and I was the official poop-a-scoop. But just as I was about to throw the towel in, the pee hit the potty. Not once but twice. That’s right, on two consecutive occasions. I could have cried. My little girl had volunteered herself to the potty – there was no going back now.
A week later, having been barricaded inside the house in order to sustain a “controlled environment”, I had to get out. I was grey. I was dishevelled. I was starting to resemble a crazed woman. And Gd did I need some fresh air. But what to do if she needed to go? Was it socially acceptable to whip out the potty in a supermarket? “Please hold it in. Please hold it in.” Surely she’s too young to understand instructions regarding bladder control. “What if I forget to ask her every 5 seconds, do you need a wee?” 18.104.22.168.5. “Are you sure you don’t need a wee?” 22.214.171.124.5 “Come on, let’s go just in case”. 126.96.36.199.5 “Baby Annabelle’s been, now it’s your turn”. But nothing. Not one sodding drop. Until of course on one occasion, when Madam decided to bare all and announce the magic words, over what may as well have been the tannoy. Shoppers ran a mile. And I was left wrestling with the portable potty, A.K.A plastic ring on legs plus paper bag. Forget the fact that they don’t accommodate the larger sized buttock cheek, these contraptions are supposed to be easy to assemble “in an instant”. But ten “instants” later, it was too late. The potette was still in bits and fresh steaming pee was creeping down the fruit and veg aisle towards the dairy produce at an alarming rate. Never mind the potette, I was in bits. Mortified was not the word.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Six weeks on, having binned the bribes and having moved onto the toilet-plus-step method, the pain is subsiding somewhat. Granted I have a few more grey hairs, but my anxiety levels have reduced to the point that the odd stray spray or the occasional misplaced poo doesn’t bother me as much. She goes, she doesn’t go. I ask her [every 10 minutes], she tells me. She misses, I mop. And last but not least, my knicker-bocker glory girl gets to show off her fancy shmancy big girl knick-nacks to anyone and everyone who asks. It’s allowed!