When A was just a tiny babe, the two moms in my life (my mother by biology and my mother by marriage), broached the subject of toilet training. My mom in law extolled the benefits of classical conditioning her right away- making “shushing” sounds which would eventually be associated, in the infant’s mind, with urinating so that every time it was made, it would excite the bladder muscles, and relax them– much like chanting “Om” does to the senses. Being a Psych Major, the idea of using my child to replace the famous Pavlovian dogs in this psychological experiment appealed greatly!
My mom had an equal but opposite opinion. Having participated in the bringing up of my sister’s two kids, in the recent past, my mom believed in New Age theories that starting toilet training too early would cause psychological problems like insecurity within the child. She had heard this from my sister, who is just short of being a certified child psychologist since she runs several play schools.
Both arguments were strong, and I started having nightmares about Potty Training; getting dreams of a grown-up BabyA running from chemist to chemist, trying to find an XXXXXXXL size to fit her 34 year old big butt, because she just wouldn’t sit on a potty!
My mom held her ground, while my mom in law pointed out the frivolousness of the idea that a child would become insecure based on something so insignificant, and unconnected! Was the human mind really so fragile?
I just buried myself a little further into the blanket every time this topic came up, and when I came out of my blanket, BabyA was two years old. I had been an ostrich for so long, that by the time I emerged, both moms were on the same page, and glaring at me. The words were on the wall: “Potty Train her Now!”
This time also coincided with A’s school holidays and so my pockets were emptied of their excuses. I googled and read, and YouTubed and watched, and got a whole lot more confused. There was the “Train Your Kid in 3 days Flat” lady who guaranteed a potty-trained baby if you were willing to give up your life (also sanity, and possibly your marriage) for 3 days. You had to tent out in one plastic-wrapped area of the house with a diaper-less child for 3 days, and feed, play, sleep and defecate there. On the 3rd day, the child would magically become potty trained (or you’d commit suicide due to complete mental disorientation). This was never going to work for me: BabyA couldn’t sit still and there was no way I could bound her by any LaxmanRekha. My irreverent Sita would have crossed before Rama was out of earshot.
Then I read the “What To Expect”article* which listed the tell-tale signs that your child is ready for potty training. BabyA wasn’t showing any signs but I disregarded the article and went back to mommies’ orders. I took BabyA off her diaper, bought the most endearing Teddy potty in town that had an inbuilt cheering squad for every time the baby filled its base with urinary or faecal goodness! I got star and smiley stickers, multi-coloured lollipops along with a reward chart where BabyA got to colour in a star every time she did things right. I did it all but she just wouldn’t potty train. She would cry because she hated the damn potty!
I gave up after 20 days, but kept an eye out for the signs, and they came. About 3 months later, Baby A started showing interest in being toilet trained, by no prodding from me. That’s when I took her off the diaper (except at school) and it was magic! She potty trained herself. No stress from me, no pushing, no taking her to the bathroom every 15 minutes or 2 hours even. I’d only take her when she expressed a desire to go, and we barely had any accidents even. In a month, she was almost completely trained! Just like the Mommy Bible had foretold.
And now when I look back, I wonder what I was panicking about. In the world, there are hyper mums and lazy mums, cool mums and crazy mums- but no matter what mum a child has been plagued with, they all get potty trained. I don’t know any 34 year old still running around in diapers (except in my dreams)!
So I relax. I close my eyes and just listen to my surroundings: the mellifluous tinkle of my child’s pee-pee filling my ears. I stop to take a deep breath and my senses are invaded by the strong scent of a pooping baby who ate some of her favourite Rajma-Chawal last night. And I break in to applause. Who needs automated cheerleaders when God created mothers?
*For all those interested in the article I was referring to, click on http://www.whattoexpect.com/toddler/potty-training/signs-of-readiness.aspx.you can check out the helpful Potty training advice on Emma’s Diary India.