Once upon a time when I had no children, I thought toilet training finished when the nappy came off the little person. OK, OK, wishful thinking but who knew that the intricacies of toilet training can go on for months or years?
Two children in and I still find that every day IS a school day.
Small Boy recently turned 4. He started using the potty when he was 2 and a half. As with most boys training started by sitting him on the toilet seat. Fast forward over a year and nothing had changed. I reckoned that standing at the toilet comes much later — whenever the boy figures it out for himself. Hey I’m a girl, what would I know??
Now Small Boy has a Big Sister. Like any second child he wants to grow up as quickly as possible. Any opportunity to show he is ‘a big boy’ is seized with relish.
Whilst on holidays recently Daddy brought Small Boy to the toilet. Small Boy, being 4 likes to announce he needs to use the toilet exactly when he HAS to use it. Being caught on the hop, the nearest accessible toilets were not so clean. Oh well, we thought. Any port in a storm.
‘Tell Mummy what you did’, said Daddy on returning from the toilet. ‘I did a wee like a big boy’, came back the proud reply’. ‘Standing at the toilet was the cleanest thing to do’ confided Daddy. They were both so puffed up with pride regarding this new development, I let it slide. But at the back of my head a tiny sing song voice told me ‘This is coming back to haunt you’.
Fast forward a week. On a family day out we stopped at a motorway service station for a break. I brought Small Boy into the ladies and plonked him up on the toilet seat. ‘ I want to go like a big boy’ he insisted. (I want are his very favourite words). Small Boy jumped down, I lifted the toilet seat and duly placed him near the toilet. For two minutes we stood there while stage fright set in. ‘Not working, I’ll sit on the toilet now’ he declared. Co-operating fully, I put down the toilet seat and plonked him on it again. Still nothing. I resisted tapping my foot. I smiled a strained smile. Patience I thought to myself, patience. Then he announced, ‘I’m ready to wee like a big boy again’.
The same process was repeated twice more before Small Boy finally decided ‘I don’t need to go at all’. Instead of being full of understanding about using the toilet in a strange place, we returned to the rest of the family with me muttering under my breath . I recalled what had just taken place adding in ‘He’s too young to stand at the toilet yet’ because of course Daddy had to be implicated in the whole scenario.
Two minutes later we were on the road again excited about the day ahead.
Driving along, Daddy and I reminisced fondly about various outings with our own families when we were young. Suddenly I thought of the times I had jumped field gates as a child having stopped the car with that rallying cry of ‘I need to go’. Nine times out of ten I got stage fright and could not perform on demand. Once I remember we drove from Ennis to Dingle and I could not go to the toilet all day until we arrived. There were no motorways back then and I nearly burst. My heart began to melt for MY Small Boy who, being determined to show how big he is, was unable to go after getting caught up in the whole process.
Smiling tenderly at Small Boy in the rear view mirror, I caught his eye. ‘Everything ok?’ I asked.
‘I need to go to the toilet’ he said.