Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Very Big Girl

So, I have been trying not to get anxious about potty training. For the baby. I myself have been successfully trained (more or less) for years, but the baby has been happily soiling diaper after diaper since birth, oblivious to my urgent attempts to influence her behavior via psychic messages. "Magically develop the urge to use the potty!" I would beam to her with my mind, "Suddenly eschew even the Pull-Up!" .... Alas, to no avail.

You know, to motivate someone you have to figure out their particular currency. We tried personal competition by holding up one of her little friends as an example: "Look, Julia is going to go use the potty! She doesn't wear diapers anymore. She uses the potty!" This was met with complete indifference. She could care less! Look, the diaper afforded her total freedom -- why, she could continue playing right through those pesky bodily functions with no interruptions. Sure, changing time was kind of irksome, but it probably took less time than constantly having to run off to the restroom. No thanks.

We tried a minor reward in the form of a Pull-Up. See, these have cartoon characters on them! But the catch is you have to sit on the potty to earn the right to wear them. She decided it wasn't worth the personal toll it took on her to sit on that potty. Thank you but no.

Finally I tried what Julia's family used as a motivator: the garbageman. He was so happy to haul Julia's binky away he gave her a present! He was so happy to stop taking dirty diapers away that he brought her another one! So, we told the baby that the first time she went pee in the potty, The Garbageman would bring her a neat present!

She mulled this over for a day or so and suddenly last night she became extremely focused. For two solid hours she sat on the potty or played near it, bottomless, and anytime we tried to dissuade her because it was getting late, she very emphatically informed us that she wanted to Go Pee-Pee! In! The! Potty! ALL BY MYSELF!!! So, we let her be until it got so late we just had to pack her off to bed with promises that she could resume in the morning.

This morning she was back at it within minutes of getting up. She continued for about an hour in the same vein, bottomless, lingering on or near the potty as she played and watched a cartoon, until finally just as I was dozing off on the couch I heard J shouting joyfully, "You DID it!" I sprang up to witness the first peeing in the potty. Jubilation! Huzzah! Etc.! And then ran to fetch the wrapped gift from The Garbageman, as promised. A little miniature post office with letter carrier figure, scooter, mailbox, and tiny letters to mail. She grooved on it. I was just glad I had bought and stashed that post office toy last year, intending to give it to one of the nieces.

After this momentous occasion we told her that the first time she went, uh, you know, in the potty, The Garbageman would bring her another present. And then I raced to the store to buy it just in case she pulled it off anytime soon. She didn't even really want to stop for breakfast until we plied her with frozen waffles topped with blueberries.

Go baby! Yay!


mel said...

Sooooo? What happens after that? Does the GM take back the present if she starts going in the diaper again? Or does he keep bringing more presents.

My kids would totally have done it once for the present and then went back to loading the diaper.

Impetua said...

See, therein lies the rub: she's going to expect a prize for every use of the potty. But, nothing else was working...

We got a bag of M&M's and each time she uses the potty she gets a few (like five). Eventually this will fade out, and yes I know it's bad to use candy as a reward and there goes Mother of the Year for me once again -- but she's going in the potty!

And to give us some credit, we rarely use bribery. Generally.