by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
April 23, 2006
April 10, 1995 - April 9, 2006
Completing 11 Years Of Service
Make My Day
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Some people have likened it to herding cats. Others have compared it to teaching dogs to program a VCR. Whatever you call it, it's the challenge of a lifetime.
We're potty training our three-year-old son. Or as I refer to it, "housebreaking," since he seems more interested in doing his business anywhere in the house except the bathroom.
It's not that he's not smart enough to understand it (he is). He's just not interested in doing it at all. He would rather spend his time playing with his sisters or having epic adventures with his Thomas the Tank Engine stuff. He hates interrupting his "brain work," as he calls it, to deal with the daily duties of his, well, daily doody.
"Come on, son, it's time to go potty," I tell him.
"Again?!" he whines and stomps off toward the bathroom.
"What do you mean 'again?' I'd like it if you'd go 'first.'"
He hates going to the bathroom. I've tried reasoning with him, rewarding him, and even clapping like a maniac whenever he does his thing. He just doesn't care. Even the old "this is what big boys do. You want to be a big boy, don't you?" lecture isn't cutting it.
Every time I take him to the bathroom, he just stares at the toilet, as if it's some new sculpture we snuck in during the night.
"What the heck is this?" he's wondering. "I'm supposed to do what in it? I thought that's what this diaper was for."
Then he gets that annoyed look on his face, because Thomas the Tank Engine was hauling a tanker load of ice cream to the birthday party, and now it's going to melt while I make him sit on the can for 20 seconds.
For a while, we tried taking him every 60 minutes, using a digital kitchen timer to count down the time. Every time it went "beep beep beep," he raced to the bathroom. This worked great for a while, but we finally had to stop when he started wetting his pants every time a truck backed up.
But he's getting better. He's even getting to the point where he'll tell us he has to go before he actually wets his pants. This was a big change from just a few weeks ago when he still thought "Daddy, I have to potty" actually meant, "Daddy, guess which little boy needs his pants changed for the third time in two hours."
This is our third round of potty training, but it's actually harder than the first two. We had it pretty easy with our two daughters who took to potty training like a duck to water. That was fairly easy, so my wife and I figured that training our son would be just as easy. We were even foolish enough to disregard our family doctor's advice.
"You've been spoiled by your two girls. But remember, boys don't develop as quickly as girls, and don't learn things as easily. So you'll find yourself wondering whether something is wrong with your son. There is: he's a boy."
We ignored his warning, fully believing that we could handle it.
It turns out, my son could try the patience of Job.
"What's the matter with you? I mean, I thought I had it rough when my servants and cattle died, and I lost all my wealth, and I was covered in weeping sores. But why on earth can't you pee in the freakin' toilet?!"
Our latest method is to give him a penny for every time he uses the toilet successfully. He collects his pennies in a jar, and if he can go through the day without an accident, the pennies go in his piggy bank. If he goes in his pants, he loses his pennies and starts all over.
"This is brilliant!" we congratulated ourselves. "This would be an easy way to teach him about consequences, as well as reward him for his good behavior."
Instead, he's got two U.S. Justice Dept. lawyers investigating me for pension fraud, my wife is facing a Congressional investigation, and Amnesty International just has condemned us for oppressing our son's personal expression.
But we're still trying to be patient with him. I keep reminding myself that these things take time, and that we should be as encouraging and supportive as possible. He'll eventually get it when he's good and ready.
At least I hope so. His junior prom will be here before any of us realize it.