A few weeks ago, I confidently announced that I was going to start potty training my three and a half year old son Arun who has cerebral palsy. I think the kindest way of describing progress so far is that it isn’t exactly going to plan. However, it has not been a complete disaster because I have had enormous success unwittingly potty training another member of my family. Allow me to explain…
We started so confidently because we knew that Arun was ready. The weekend before we started training we visited my in-laws. Arun loves his Nan very dearly and will happily spend most of the day following her around and doing whatever she is doing. One thing, however, he was not allowed to share was her visits to the toilet. Arun was a little put out about this and so every time Nan got the call of nature Arun would bang on the toilet door announcing at the top of his voice “Nan! Loo!” and just in case anyone had any illusions about what Nan was doing in there he would add, “Wee-wee!”
So, the following Friday we started. At first we decided that we would get Arun used to sitting on the potty fully clothed and give him lots of praise for doing this. Unfortunately, he showed no interest in this whatsoever. After less than three seconds of sitting still he would be off.
When I told his school teacher about our new regime she nodded and then gave me one of those school-mistress looks. What she said was,” I’m not a big fan of putting children on the potty fully clothed. They really don’t make the right associations.” What her look said was, “You stupid, stupid man. You really haven’t got a clue have you?”
So, with her sage advice ringing in my ears we decided to try putting him on the potty without his trousers and nappy on. This where it got really interesting.
First, my wife discovered the risks of taking a nappy off in the bathroom when we don’t have a changing mat and wipes readily to hand. Yes, taking a nappy off whilst your son is standing up without checking whether he has done a poo is a very, very messy business.
Second, we now have what has become known as the “potty streak”. After sitting on the potty for his requisite three seconds, Arun is off. Naked from the waist down, he dashes out of the bathroom and down the landing with me and / or my wife in hot pursuit.
So, the end result of all this endeavour? Not even the slightest hint of a wee-wee, let alone a poo.
But, as I said it has not been a complete failure. Meri, my nineteen month old daughter has also been swept up by the potty craze. Although we are not formally training her she is desperate to join in and so also sits on her potty as well. She sits still for a good minute or two and thinks it is all a great game, chuckling her way through it.
Meri, though isn’t the real success. That honour goes to Meri’s lifelong companion and friend, Little Tigger. When Meri sits on the potty, she places her moth-eaten and much loved cuddly toy on the potty next to her. Tigger, to his credit, sits there very quietly and studiously. He is the model pupil.
So, imagine the scene if you will. As a half naked boy careens around the bathroom chased by his father and a slightly bemused girl giggles manically, Little Tigger calmly sits on the potty and goes about his business. As you can probably imagine, I am so proud I think I’m going to burst.