There are many highlights in a parenting journey – the first smile, the first words, the first few steps. Usually, all of these milestones are highly anticipated and when they do eventually arrive, are loudly and proudly celebrated.
That being said, I think the most important milestone to a parent is one of the most underappreciated and underrated ones, considering what kind of impact it makes to your life.
I’m talking about that the holy grail of early parenting: potty training!
Think about what a potty-trained toddler means to a parent: all that money on nappies goes back into our pockets (sure, it usually gets absorbed into some other child-rearing cost, but still) and the promise that soon you will no longer be wiping the bum of this human being.
“The one thing we didn’t want to do was to make the idea of going to the toilet an anxious one, so we backed off and waited. And waited.”
Yes, potty training is an incredible and life-changing achievement for a family, but it can come at great cost. For instance, our youngest boy has been less than keen to get the transition going. Earlier this year, he used the potty for the first time and then proceeded to have no interest in doing it again for months afterwards.
His thinking was that he proved that he could do it … so why were we constantly harassing him to try again? Did Edmund Hillary’s parents bug him to go back up Everest? Obviously not!
It’s tough logic to argue. The one thing we didn’t want to do was to make the idea of going to the toilet an anxious one, so we backed off and waited. And waited.
And then, one random day, he came up to us and told us that he had just made a wee in the toilet. We didn’t believe him because at that point we had waited so long that we had just assumed he’d always be in nappies – but it was true! He just decided that he was ready to do it then.
But, like I said, it has come at great cost. Accidents happen … and usually at the worse times (like a friend’s house when we’ve forgotten to bring a change of clothes) and these new experiences have also lead to a spirit of experimentation, e.g.: “I wonder what would happen if I peed in the wastebasket?”
(Answer: My dad become LIVID!)
So, there is the excitement knowing that bum wiping and nappy changes will be a thing of the past in my household, but for now, could you pass the plastic bag and some wet wipes please?
AfroDaddy, a.k.a. Terence Mentor, is a place for parents, especially dads, to come together and share in the “duality of parenting” – the fact that being a parent can be fantastic, wonderful and beautiful, while simultaneously being exhausting, frustrating and awful. A husband and father to two boys born 18 months apart, AfroDaddy shares his unique view and experiences, while opening himself to new experiences, learnings and people. You can find him at AfroDaddy.