Posted by Duff

Potty training has been, by far–for me–the most challenging chapter of parenting a strong-willed child. By comparison, The Great Snowpants Debacle is a joke.

Like many kids, The Dervish showed interest before she turned two. Knowing her, we encouraged her, pressure-free.

When she was still under three and Atticus was brand new, she said, “I’m going to pee on the potty!” And we said “Great!” and she did. And we did a little dance, and she called her grandparents, and everyone was elated. Two hours later, the little guy was fussy, I wasn’t paying attention, and she had an accident. We told her how proud we were of her for trying, and we’d try again next time. No big deal.

That was six months ago. She hasn’t tried again.

“I’m just not ready,” she tells me. She’s not yet three and a half. But any number of people who ask me about her toileting progress are ready for her to give diapers the heave-ho. I admit, I’m ready, too.

“No, I didn’t pee in my diaper,” she claims, as she sets up a picnic, complete with blanket, plates, utensils and cups. She has — after holding her bladder for 8 hours. When I ask her why she didn’t tell me so we could clean her up, she pours me a drink and says, “Because I don’t want you bothering me about the potty. I told you, I’m not ready.”

Now, you’d think if she could express herself in such a way, she’s old enough for far more advanced concepts than potty-peeing. And you’d be right:

“Dervish, give it a try, and I’ll give you a Skittle,” says her father.

“Daddy, give me five Skittles® and I’ll use the diaper,” she counters.

She has amassed a list of rewards (some we’ve offered, some she’s added) that she will recieve when she deems herself ready: A Skittle. A Princess Backpack. A French Horn(?). Her ears pierced(?).  She will also recieve a phone call from Shrek, attend a cheese party at her favorite Uncle’s, and I will jump up and down.

I got the itchiest, cheapest diapers I could find. She either whines and withstands them, or takes them off and has accidents, and moves on. She would rather stand in a puddle on the floor than sit on the potty. Imagine trying to put a cat in the bathtub. That’s my girl.

We got her amped up about princess underwear. She picked them out herself, wore them and held her urine for 16 hours, squeezing her legs together, walking hunched over. When I suggested she pee in the potty so she could play again, she crossed her arms and glared at me, stone-eyed. Because I worry about UTIs, she outlasted me.

“This will come in handy if you’re ever stuck in traffic, far from a bathroom,” says her pre-school teacher.  

“Yes, I know. And no one will ever get her to do anything she doesn’t want to, which is fantastic,” I say. I have been saying it for over three years. It’s a strength every mother wants for her daughter.

I’ve read books, talked to doctors, professional childcare providers, teachers, and a therapist I happen to know.

They all say the same thing.  Well, except the genius who suggested making her handwash her soiled underwear IN THE TOILET.

I  think I’ll just turn my back to the wind, instead, thanks.

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