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Potty Training: Shakespeare-Style

2011 June 23

. . . be not afraid of greatness: some are born great; some achieve greatness; and some have greatness thrust upon them.

~Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

I think the same can be said for potty-training.

I always assumed that I would reach a point where Lilly and I were both ready to tackle potty-training. I would read numerous books and websites about techniques for potty-training, develop a strategy, pick a start date and we’d be off and running to the potty. I figured I could perhaps blog our progress along the way to help other parents, but also to complain about when and how we deviated from my plan.

Not so.

Instead I was awakened around 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning  — one of my previously designated mornings to sleep “late” — by a very excited Lilly telling me about how she had peed on the potty that morning. Lilly has been peeing on the potty, off and on, for months. So, while I was genuinely proud of her, it was not a big shock or major sign of change.

What was a big shock was the next wave of information: Elliott — God bless his well-intentioned heart — told me that Lilly had not yet worn a diaper that day; that he had been reminding her to use the potty every 15 minutes since 6:30 a.m.; that he had decided to start potty-training; and that now he had to go to work. Have a good day.

This, I assume, would have been a textbook case of “potty-training being thrust upon them” had Shakespeare decided to write a parenting manual rather than Twelfth Night. (This probably would have appeared just before the chapter on getting a well-paying job two days’ travel away and leaving your wife behind to raise the children.)

So, picking up from Elliott’s solid hour and a half of dedicated potty-training, I proceeded to remind Lilly about using the potty every 15-20 minutes for the next ten hours or so until Elliott finished working and it was Lilly’s bedtime. Overall, it was a good day of potty-training. We only had two accidents, both mere puddles. Lilly even managed to keep a swim diaper clean for quite a while, using the potty both at home and at a local pool before finally peeing in her diaper. No, I hadn’t cleared our schedule of activities because I had no idea I’d be potty-training that day, but anyway . . .

Yesterday, still somewhat stunned that I found myself in the midst of potty-training . . . wait, eww, that sounds pretty gross . . . still somewhat stunned that I found myself suddenly potty-training and home with a sick Lilly, I gave both of us permission to only half-assedly potty train on Wednesday. But this morning, Elliott’s morning to wake up early again, I was right back in the thick of it. [Eww again! Sorry. There’s a reason why there are no great works of literature focusing on potty training.]

Despite my reluctance to potty-train right now, I resigned myself to the fact that there was no sense in going back once progress has been made. So, today, I did clear our schedule and planned simply to stay home reminding Lilly to pee or poop every 15-20 minutes.

Then I remembered that my long-awaited prescription sunglasses would be ready today. By all accounts, leaving the house in the first 3 days of potty-training is not recommended. I considered not picking them up until the weekend. “But,” as Lilly would say, “I really, really want them!” Plus the store is only about 5 minutes away. And Lilly had been doing really well for hours.

So I went for it. I’m crazy like that.

Here’s where I needed a plan. I put Lilly in clothes for the first time today, grabbed an extra change of clothes, an extra pair of shoes and an absorbent receiving blanket (in case I needed to mop up a store floor). Then I grabbed a large towel and portable potty to set up a makeshift bathroom in the trunk of my SUV, plus the usual wipes, diapers, etc. just in case I became so overwhelmed I just decided to put Lilly back in diapers. I loaded up the car with all our gear (minus, of course, Lilly’s sippy cup), put Lilly on the potty one more time and loaded her straight into her car seat when she was done.

No time to waste!

From that point on I felt like Sandra Bullock in Speed. (Of course, since I’ve been too neurotic to drive more than 5 miles over the speed limit since Lilly was born, it was more like I was in Moderate and Safe, But Very Efficient, Speed. But still, you get the point.) Slow down too much and the trip will take too long, and my precious on-board package could very well explode . . . in pee.

I reminded Lilly regularly to tell me if she needed the potty and explained that there are potties everywhere, not just at home. To which she responded, “Like in the trunk, right?”

“Well, yes, but that’s for emergencies.”

I struggled with where to park: close as possible to get her in and out of the store in minimal time? Or back of the lot so I can put her on the potty in the trunk without an audience? I found a space in the middle ground, walked into the store, picked up my glasses, fiddled with the fit terrified that each request for “a little tighter” would result in me excusing the puddle staining their carpet, finished up and walked Lilly out.

Whew! At least now we’re on our own. No carpet to stain. No captive audience.

As we walked to the car I asked Lilly if she wanted to use a potty or if she would make it home.

“I can make it home.”

So, off we went. We arrived home approximately 6.3 minutes later with Lilly asleep in her carseat, wearing dry shorts.

Yay!! I should get Lilly something special for this achievement! Wait – that’s another car ride. Nope, just some stickers and LOTS of praise.

She still hasn’t woken up so the stickers and praise will have to wait. But I am proud to say that as of 3:19 p.m. she has not worn a diaper all day (other than the one she is currently napping in) and we have had NO accidents!

And that, my friends, is how I earned myself this Krispy Kreme donut sitting right in front of me.

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The Potty Training: Shakespeare-Style by MushBrain, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Terms and conditions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

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