‘Look! It’s Mr Potty!’, said I, to Red, last Christmas. Who is Mr Potty? Is he a new CBeebies or Pixar character? No. It’s me. With my face sticking out of a potty. Looking not unlike Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale. And with this humiliation began our second run at potty training.
I moan a lot about various aspects of parenting, but to me, potty training is the nadir of fatherhood. The first time around was a long, miserable experience. I remember being left alone with Blondie when we first started. Obviously, by that point I’d changed a million nappies. I knew way more than I needed to know about the waste of children, having had t-shirts soaked with piss while having a cuddle, or staring wide-eyed at a giant turd, wondering how such a massive log could come out of someone so small. Most memorable of all was that very first baby shit. I remember Mummy Cool and I panicking to change Blondie’s first nappy while our parents waited to be let in to see their brand-new granddaughter. We were determined to appear like we knew what we were doing, but we floundered around the room while holding our noses. That introductory shit… it’s spectacular isn’t it?
So, yes, potty training would be unpleasant but I’ll just grit my teeth and it’ll be over before I know it. That’s what I thought. As is so often the case, I was wrong. Blondie let me know that warm summer’s day, big time. I think I must have changed her outfits roughly six times. Peeling warm, damp socks off her little feet… mopping a sodden floor… shaking my head as I throw some knickers that looked to be beyond rescue into the bin… by the time Mummy Cool returned I was living on the edge. The rest of Blondie’s potty training is a yellowy-brown blur, but highlights include persuading her to sit on the toilet (she couldn’t be arsed with a potty) and sitting depressed, drifting off into a daydream on the bathroom floor for an hour while she balanced the iPad on her knee and watched 12 episodes of Peppa Pig, before we gave up.
It’s the frustrating feeling of being held hostage to human waste that gets to me. Potty training severely affects plans for the day. Red thinks the idea of wearing ‘big-girl knickers’ is great, and that’s something I guess. But she too has no time for actually sitting on a potty. We daren’t travel anywhere in the car until she’s sodden a pair of pants and we know there’s time to get from A to B without the car becoming a Portaloo. I hopelessly thought the idea of a character called Mr Potty might get Red more interested in the idea than Blondie was, but while she might have laughed, I basically made myself look like a tit for nothing. Yet again.
Books about princesses learning to piss and shit prove interesting and enjoyable for kids, but again, it’s no dice when it comes to actually sitting down and getting on with the job. They also teach you that being positive is key to helping your offspring persevere with this learning curve. I’m not great at this, it has to be said. It’s hard to grit your teeth and say ‘Don’t worry! It’s fine! I love the fact you’ve just pissed your pants when I asked you literally ten seconds ago if you need a wee-wee! Maybe next time, yeah? Please? Would you? Listen, THERE ARE NO KNICKERS LEFT NOW, YOU HAVE TO STOP THIS.’
Mr Potty came and went months ago. Despite hopes that Red might be more interested in her potty than her big sister was, we’ve had no luck. We’ve stopped and started several times, but now we’re determined to crack it before the end of the summer. Thankfully, the staff at our nursery have been really supportive again, and it’s fair to say that in effect, they were the ones who potty trained our eldest.
I should probably learn to not get worked up about it. It’s too hot to be getting worked up about anything (mind you, doesn’t dealing with piss and shit seem twice as bad in the heat?). I’m trying to look at the bigger picture and think of the money we’ll soon be saving in nappies and wipes, so I should be looking forward to getting through it. Maybe there’s a small part of me that doesn’t want Red to grow up? No, forget that, she’s just pissed herself again.