Before attempting to potty train my son I read every book I could get my hands on about toilet training little boys: everything from the strict follow these steps and your child will be diaper free in three days approach to the easy going they’ll make the transition when they’re ready philosophy. I had candy to bribe him, stickers and reward charts to encourage him, and the most adorable little green potties shaped like smiling happy frogs. I was armed and ready to do battle.
I should have known I was doomed the moment my son first looked at the potty and ran away screaming.
At the time it seemed like a good idea to stash several potties around the house so they’d be readily available should the mood to pee strike him on short notice. I thought they were cute. Plus, they were cheap! Little did I know that the smiling green amphibian would become his greatest enemy and having them appear randomly throughout the house would be his worst nightmare come true. The potty training books never said anything about how to deal with frog phobias.
I tried gradual exposure therapy; I started with the frog potty positioned across the room while he watched tv. He was skeptical at first, shooting suspicious glances at the frog every thirty seconds, but eventually accepted its inevitable presence. I played only frog-related children’s shows for him in the hopes that he might strike up a friendship with the potty, or at least some empathy. But even Kermit failed to ignite a spark between my stubborn three year old and his googly-eyed companion.
The first time he approached the frog, my heart jumped into my throat. This was it! He moved carefully as though he were afraid to spook the vicious creature. I held my breath in anticipation. When he finally reached the smiling green frog he bent over to inspect it. He stood still for several minutes, deep in concentration, and then as if a switch had been flipped he straightened up. He’d taken the little orange bowl out of middle of the frog and was now wearing it as a hat. Well, sh*t.
Potty train your child in three days? I’d be lucky if I got him out of diapers in three years.
Eventually, the frogs became permanent fixtures in our bathrooms. They gathered dust for months, covered the heater vents, and grinned maniacally up at me while I did all sorts of personal things, but my son would never touch them. He skirted widely around them as though he was waiting for the evil frogs to shoot out their sticky tongues and pull him in. To be fair, the eyes did sort of follow you wherever you went.
After nearly a year of tripping over the useless creatures every time I needed to pee, I decided to move one of the froggy potties outside while he was playing in his sandbox. I’m not sure why I did it. Desperation? Maybe I’d finally had enough of their wandering eyes on me while I was trying to pee. Either way, I set it on the deck, removed my son’s pants and suggested to him for the 4000th time that he use the froggy potty. As usual, he ignored me and went about his business of pouring the sand on his now-exposed family jewels. Look, mom. Buried Treasure!
After an hour or so I started noticing him shifting uncomfortably in the sand. Either he needed to pee pretty badly or he had sand somewhere it shouldn’t be. Perhaps both. I waited to see what would be his next move. He glared at the frog, as though he were blaming it for the uncomfortable situation in which he now found himself. As if on cue, one of the dogs came sauntering over from the corner of the yard where he’d been sunbathing, noticed everyone staring at the frog, sniffed it, cocked his leg and peed down the side of the frog’s face. I wish this was some indication of my dog’s cleanliness and intelligence, but actually he habitually peed on any and every stationary object in the yard. Many pairs of shoes and discarded sweatshirts had been disgraced in just such a manner.
I was not impressed. My son, on the other hand, thought this was the funniest thing he’d ever seen. He was in hysterics and my frantic attempt to clean off the potty made it even more enticing.
I want to pee on the froggy potty too!!
Why the heck not?
He cackled like a villain from a movie as he soaked the frog from giant, creepy eyes, to webbed feet. I didn’t know a child that small could possibly hold that much urine in his tiny body. That frog was getting the golden shower of a lifetime, and from the look on his face he seemed to be enjoying it. Even the dogs were impressed.
Frantic images flashed through my mind of explaining to my child’s preschool teachers that they were going to have to take him outside several times a day so he could pee on fire hydrants like a dog. Technically, the rules of his school stated that the child had to be out of diapers before attending. They didn’t actually specify that the child had to use an actual toilet. Perhaps I could sneak this one past them on a technicality.
But for how long?
What would the neighbors think when my three-year-old toddled outside, pulled off his pants, and dropped a deuce in the middle of the yard? I guessed we wouldn’t be getting an invitation to the neighborhood Christmas party that year. I really hoped I wouldn’t have to find out.
I left the froggy potty in the middle of the grass for the next couple of days and my son went outside to pee every time he needed to go. By the second day he was completely out of diapers during the day and hadn’t had a single accident. I gave the dogs an extra treat that day.
As much fun as public urination was at home, we were going to have to leave the house sometime. He might get away with that sort of thing at Walmart, but certainly not at fancy establishments like Target. I needed something to motivate him to pee indoors, like a human.
Fortunately for me, the frog, and our fellow townsfolk, we hadn’t discovered my son’s love for urinating outdoors until late autumn. By the evening of the third day it was approaching freezing outside, and even the dogs were thinking twice before heading out to pee. My son opened the back door after announcing that he needed to pee and was hit by an icy blast of autumn wind. He shut the door, looked up at me sheepishly, and asked me to take him to the bathroom. Potty frog be damned.
Suddenly the warm, indoor toilet didn’t look so bad.
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