Sweet relief

I don't know what it is that makes an idea take hold in a toddler's brain and go "ding!", almost audibly. I just know that after nearly a year of attempting potty training (off and on -- there were probably more "we're taking a break" weeks than "we're actually actively trying this" weeks in there), Nora finally saw the light and started using the potty earlier this month.

We'd had several false alarms before -- she'd pee or poop while sitting on the potty, probably by accident, and then it wouldn't happen again, no matter what cool toys we bribed her with or how we formatted her stinkin' sticker chart. We read her cues, and we read the books. Then we ignored the books and followed our instincts. But nothing worked.

Well-intentioned friends and strangers would say "Oh, don't worry -- no one gets to college not knowing how to use the potty." But I started to think maybe my kid would be the first. There were also reassurances of "She'll go when she's ready," which is absolutely true. But we were under a deadline. Her preschool, which we love, requires kids to be potty-trained before they can enter the 3-year-old class, which was the plan for this fall. So while I wanted to let her own readiness guide us, I was really hoping to nudge that readiness toward RIGHT NOW, ALREADY, COME ON!

I'm not proud of it. But it's just how I am.

Anyway. Through whatever cosmic forces guides these matters, Nora went pee in the potty once. And then again the same day. And then several times within the same 24-hour period, adding some poop a time or two just to make sure we understood she was really doing this.

So now life has changed.

We're no longer sitting in the bathroom for what feels like hours, entertaining our toddler with books and smartphone videos while she sits on the can and does nothing. Now we're running for the bathroom for short trips every 10 minutes, and celebrating the three drops of pee she rations out so she can earn another sticker for her chart, which in turn will earn what we have termed a "fabulous surprise" -- some small toy she can pick from a bag full of them.

I thought that potty usage outside the home would be a separate hurdle, but she showed no hesitation with that once things were rolling. At a recent trip to the State Farmer's Market restaurant in Raleigh, I seriously went to the bathroom with her SEVEN times during the course of breakfast. And she did something all but one of those visits, too. How you go from not allowing one tiny drop of pee to hit the porcelain for a year to having the bladder control to ration it out to maximize stickers and restaurant bathroom visits is beyond me. Kids learn fast, I guess. Sheesh.

I'm sure there will be setbacks, so I'm not about to close the book on this exciting chapter of parenting. But at least now I can envision her moving into a freshman dorm without diapers, and that's, well, quite a relief.