Speaking Mommy: Chronicles of a Stay-at-Home Dad

The Potty Experiment (Part I)

Looking back, the “potty experiment” that began in our house eight months ago has, over that time, permanently changed my perspective as a parent.

Little did I know that the potty, the loo, le toilet, was going to be such an integral part of the focus of my existence. Our daughter was a textbook potty training success story over the course of a weekend. She was ready for this new adventure right from the start; actually excited not to have to wear a pull-up anymore. Her twin brother, on the other hand, has been a completely different story; albeit, a success but a much longer, more challenging and messier one. 

From the best of my rapidly fading recollection, in large part thanks to the daily antics of my children, there were a few important turning points in my son’s training that helped to change my perspective. One of those points happened a couple of months ago. That particular day started out "normal" - as normal days go - with “spirited” three year old twins. In the midst of Def Con noise level 3, I was in the middle of cooking dinner, one that I’m sure that did not meet their approved list (which seems to solely consist of nuggets and fries), when I hear my son say "Daddy, I’m wet. I need you to change me."

Okay. Sure. No problem. This Pavlovian behavior is normally done in the blink of an eye, neither one of us really focusing on the task at hand but just doing it.  However, that day was different for me. After an unusually long day of 3-year-old noise, after the second set of clothes were soaked because he wanted to wear underwear not a pull-up during the day (wishful thinking on my part), I had hit the “proverbial wall.”

I squared off against my demanding little 3-year-old boy and stared him straight in the eye and said “Nope! Not this time.” And then there was silence.  Upon reflection, I am not really sure why I said that but believe it to have been the culmination of countless failed potty attempts with him showing me that he had just pooped (with a handful of it) and many soaked and soiled underwear that fared better in the trash than in the wash.

Well, let’s just say for the sake of this article, it was grueling weeks and months of "doing business as usual" without doing your usual business where it belongs. He repeated himself, "Daddy I need you to change me" to which I calmly replied again, “No.” This time I went even further by handing him a pull-up and telling him he should change himself. I wish I could describe the look on his face when it began to sink in. He looked like he had seen a ghost. The look quickly went from a loud scream to a look of utter confusion. We continued to lock eyes for a moment and then he turned around and went back to play with his sister, wet pull-up and all.

Yes, eventually I did change him and after a series of backbreaking negotiations with chocolate bribes to try harder next time, we had dinner. In hindsight, this standoff with my 3-year-old would prove to be the first of two pivotal turning points we had on our quest to potty train him.

Stay tuned for The Potty Experiment (Part II).

(Editor's Note: Charlie Powell is currently a contributing columnist for Parents "R" Talking, Inc. The opinions in this article are those of Parents “R” Talking. The opinions are not medical advice. Always consult your pediatrician about any changes you are contemplating.)

christina April 21, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Very entertaining! My husband and I can't wait for part II.
Ryan O. April 22, 2011 at 12:58 PM
I find your article flushed with insight. Can't wait for # 2 !!
ED POWELL April 22, 2011 at 02:24 PM
ED P. Good stuff & very truthful. You need a trip to the country for down time!
Charlotte Strader April 22, 2011 at 07:33 PM
I love this! We need more dads in the trenches and on the front lines. Keep it coming, Charlie.
Mike April 22, 2011 at 09:30 PM
Sounds like you've got your hands full. Sounds like your son had his hands full too! I'm eager to hear how you broke through his resistance... and if he ever launched that poop at you.


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