“It’s not working.” So says the prince of our house after he grabs himself, we rush him onto the potty, then nothing happens. No worries, we’ll try it again later. After six or seven months, he’s using his potty with increasing and encouraging frequency, and now tells us just about every time he needs to go. And when he tries to pull his pants up by himself, showing how much he’s grown, I want to dance a jig in the middle of the living room. Come on, why not? My son is learning to be more autonomous, and it makes me feel like I’ve just won the World Series.
I’ve been getting by without wetting myself (mostly) since Carter was President, so maybe I’m a little out of touch with the process as he sees it, but he’s getting the hang of it. He’ll run up to one of us with a distressed look on his face, one hand squeezing his peepee like a vise grip, like that will stop the flow before we hit the potty. Mind you, this is just what he does, he only says something like “I have to go potty” about half the time; the other half, we get a low-pitched whining noise to let us know that “shee” (Korean for #1) is on its way. “Ung-a,” or #2, is an entirely different matter, and the little man has some kind of mental block against doing that in the potty.
Before his recent desire for privacy while sitting on a potty in the middle of the living room, he would make a huge show of it. He would even grab your hand, tell you he was going to shee, then (after some help with his pants, naturally) do it, all the while beaming with justifiable pride. Then he would find whoever might not have witnessed his magical feat and announce “I did it! I did it!” Once I was in another room when he said that to me, and I asked him what he’d done. He said “I go potty on the floor.” Before my blood pressure could spike, my wife explained that he’d gone in the potty, which was on the floor, not on the floor itself. All was well with the world, and I stopped planning to rent a carpet steamer from Home Depot.
Grown men take for granted that they need to stand to pee, but it’s been amazing watching an almost-three-year-old realize for the first time that he doesn’t need to sit on the potty for shee. He’ll follow me into the bathroom and watch, and invariably collapse in a giggling fit because it’s just the most hilarious thing ever. The only problem is, he’s tried to emulate me, so I’ve tried two things that my wife hasn’t known about – until she reads this post. I’ll steady him on a stool at the toilet, or I’ll try to help him aim at the portable potty in the living room. Both ways are messy, and helping the little man aim when he increasingly wants to do everything “all by myself” can be reason to break out the Simple Green.
Come spring, it will also be time to consider which pre-K to apply to. There is now an increased sense of urgency because the program we’re thinking of, and which our neighbors love, won’t accept him unless he’s completely potty trained. What gets me is that word, “accept.” I mean, is he already competing to get into certain schools? Is this what the parents of toddlers, at least yuppies in Queens, are reduced to? Should I write an accompanying 300-word essay? It isn’t like I can do what these kids in Long Island did, and take a test for him – more’s the pity.
We’ll get through it, like we’ve gotten through other adventures with him. All the encouraging signs are there: dry diaper maybe every other morning, frequent refusal to wear diapers because “I’m a big boy now,” and the plain routineness of the whole thing. The not wearing diapers thing? Good. But when we instead try to put him in “pansu,” Korean for underwear, it’s like I’m Von Luger and he’s Hilts in The Great Escape. By the time he’s fully off diapers, we’ll have another one to potty train, but maybe he can give his little sister some pointers. It’s like we said in the military, “train the trainer first,” and the best part is, she won’t have to learn how to shee standing up.