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  • Whatever Dude Potty Training

    October 3, 2007

    If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, then you already know I am the author and developer of the internationally acclaimed “Whatever Dude” potty training program.  It’s only a matter of time before Oprah and Dr. Phil put in a call to feature me on their shows as the “parenting gone awry” example.

    The WD program consists mainly of pretending that you do not care one whit if your child is potty trained or not — even in the face of criticism by the world wide web and well-meaning friends and especially in the face of a little boy with big blue eyes who delights in making that vein in your forehead bulge.

    The not caring one whit? This is the hardest part of the program, especially when someone has gone to great pains to point out all the other children at the playground who are not  wearing diapers because then I have to point out that those same children are eating their boogers which proves that age of potty training does not correlate to intelligence. So there.

    The major component of the WD program is being secure in the knowledge that you know your child best and are doing what is best for your child no matter what the world wide web, your best friend, your mother, Dr. Phil or a doctor by any other name says.  In the WD program, you take in information from all of these sources, give it ten seconds of polite consideration and then say “Thank you very much, but whatever dude, this is my kid and I’m doing what’s best for my child.” 

    I decided early on that I was not going to make a big deal out of potty training, that I would wait for his cue.  But as the years wore on and there was no cue, and all the other kids his age seemed to have mastered this skill, I began to get a little nervous.  I began to consider the possibility that there might not be a cue coming and… and then I didn’t allow myself to think too far beyond that because I had no idea what I would do. 

    Many of you have been with me on this WD not-potty-training journey from the beginning and have emailed me to ask how it happened so quickly. Really and truly, it happened in one day.  One day in August we got a letter from the preschool saying that 3-year-olds had to be potty trained in order to attend school in the fall.  That was the cue I needed.

    Soon thereafter, we put big boy underwear on him. And that was that.  Sure we had to wrestle him down to the ground and put them on him the first time and there were a few tears and a few wet accidents, but that was pretty much it.  After that first day, no more diapers, no more tears.  There was no doll, no special potty chair, no stickers, no M&Ms, no charts and this time no bribes (I had exhausted all my bribes in the previous 18 months) — nothing other than a little gentle force and a lot of praise.

    Why did it work?  Perhaps the stars aligned just right that particular day or perhaps it was the confluence of the letter, my eagerness and his own readiness.  Or perhaps God, fully aware of my ineptitude, took pity on me and made it easy.  I don’t know. Probably that last one.

    If you are in the throes of potty training, my only advice to you is to do what is best for your child. And then expect to be criticized for it.

    For me and for Sean, it was best to wait a little longer, change a few more diapers and avoid a few more battles.

    Somewhere In An Area Code, Far Far Away…

    August 15, 2007

    “Hey Mom! Guess what!? Sean went poo poo on the potty! Hold on, here’s Sean. Sean, tell Wivian that you went poo poo on the potty!”

    “I went poo poo on the potty.”


    “Here – hand the phone back sweetie. Yes! And oh what a day of rejoicing it was! We flushed with great pride, we high fived, we celebrated! You were so right! You said when he was ready to poop on the potty, he would poop, and poop he did! Isn’t that fantastic!? Poop!”

    “Yes, but…”

    “Oh I can’t tell you how happy I am that he finally pooped on the potty. I thought this day would never come to pass. Sorry, bad pun. Seriously, I never knew I could be so excited about poop! And the other thing you said, you know about wrapping up the little prizes and letting him pick? He loved that. You think of everything! You are s’marvelous. ”

    “Well, thank you but –”

    “He wouldn’t go for three days you know – and we were worried, but hoo boy do grapes ever do the trick! His little ole’ face turned so red – well, by the time, he went, oh my! You don’t even want to know –“

    “No, I don’t think I do —  who IS this?”


    “I don’t think so. Who is this?”

    “This is Antique Mommy. Is this Wivian?”


    “Oh. Sorry.”

    “You’ve got the wrong number dear, but congratulations.”

    “Oh my. Sorry. Thank you. Sorry to have bothered you. Sorry.”

    “That’s okay honey.”  Click

    The Negotiator

    August 13, 2007

    We got a letter from the pre-school last week stating that all three-year-olds must be potty trained in order to attend school in the fall.  This fall – the one that arrives in two weeks according to the school calendar.  Which is still summer.  Remember the good old days when fall had something to do with the Gregorian calendar and leaves falling, blah blah old lady rant blah?


    They do not indicate if they will refund our deposit if we are unable to meet their stupid arbitrary deadline.  But I’m guessing not.


    The pressure to potty train, it’s just so… not helpful for my own intestinal issues.


    Nonetheless, we’ve made a little progress on that front. We have had some measure of success. We still have a ways to go, if you will — or even if you won’t — but we are working on it.  At this point, it’s a matter of will, not skill – a will that makes iron look like warm butter.


    Many times a day, I enthusiastically enumerate to Sean the many benefits and privileges of wearing big boy undies.  And I sound as though I am trying to sell him an annuity or something equally useless.  If I were calling myself on the phone with this fabulous offer, I would hang up on me. Really.


    The stupid arbitrary deadline has turned me into some sort of slimy incentive-wielding used car salesman.  Whereas normally, I’m not that slimy.  Oh the depths to which I have stooped in the name of potty training.  There is nothing that I have not promised that boy in the last week.  The incentives have increased from gummy bears and plastic dollar store crud to a bicycle.  But apparently, even at that, I wasn’t aiming high enough.


    This morning, when I gave him the “poo poo on the potty” pep talk and promised him the moon and the bicycle of his choice, he listened intently and like a little executive, he nodded slightly while making a little church steeple out of his hands.  “Well, I want to be in charge of the world and drive the car,” he countered. And then he walked away from the bargaining table. “What’s it gonna take to put you in these big boy undies today?” I called after him.


    On the other hand, he may be 16 by the time I get him potty trained, so handing over the keys to the car shouldn’t be a problem.

    BM For 3M

    January 22, 2007

    Earlier this week I was visiting with a friend whom I had not seen for a while. I was catching her up on all things Sean when she asked me if he was potty trained yet. I said good heavens no, but we were kind of working on it. Sorta. Maybe. And then she said, “Oh really? What do you think the problem is?”

    Problem? PROBLEM?

    For some reason that word got my hackles up. I did not think I had a problem.

    And to be clear, this is a dear friend who meant no offense and none was taken. But still. I felt defensive.

    And then I felt defensive about being defensive.

    While continuing one conversation with my friend outside of my head, I was having this one with myself inside my head: “He’s intelligent, he’s funny, he’s cheerful and he’s a good boy. So what if he’s still in diapers? Who cares? And another thing! It’s not like being potty trained at two is something you’re going to put on your resume.”

    Nonetheless. I do notice that many of the kids in his class are potty trained. But I’m pretty sure they aren’t nearly as funny as Sean. And when you are busy making your mother laugh, you can’t be bothered with stopping to defecate.

    I am convinced that when he decides that he’s done with diapers, it will have very little to do with me or anything beyond his own readiness. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

    In the meantime, I’m doing all I can without making it an issue. I am encouraging him with rewards from big boy underwear to a basket full of the coolest poop prizes you’ve ever seen including an entire new roll of Scotch tape! I mean really! Who wouldn’t poop for their own personal role of Scotch tape?!

    Just this morning I showed him the sugary array, the gummy splendor, the bounty of plastic that could be his if only he would just consider… He reached in the basket and fondled the roll of tape for a moment and then handed it back. “No thank you. I like to poo poo in my diaper.”

    And all you can say to that is, “No problem.”

    The Poo Poo Driven Life

    May 31, 2006

    After years of extensive research, okay really just a few days, I have developed a thoughtfully considered potty training system. By thoughtfully considered I mean it came to me the other night while I was sipping Sangria. Actually it’s not really a system, but a plan. Well, actually it’s not even a plan. It’s more like a whim. A whim that I’m marketing as the “The Poo Poo Driven Life”.

    Since Sean began showing an increased interest in using the toilet, I decided that maybe I should just talk about it more so that eventually he might think that eliminating, wiping and flushing in the potty is his own invention. So about a hundred times a day I will ask Sean if he has to a) pee pee or b) poo poo. And then for a follow-up question I ask, if so, is there any chance that he’d like to do either, a and/or b, on the potty like a big boy?

    “The Poo Poo Driven Life” potty training system is largely based on the concept that if you want to get a guy to do something, you’ve got to get him to think that it’s his idea. I learned this about my dad when I was a little girl and about men in general when I was a big girl. Batting your eyelashes doesn’t hurt either.

    Sean assumes a certain pose and glazed over expression that lets me know that poo is pending. So in keeping with my plan to eventually rule the world and live a diaper free existence, I ask him if he has any ideas about where one could go potty, perhaps, oh I don’t know, the potty? Just thinkin’ out loud. And then I batt my eyelashes.

    Perhaps I need to improve my technique. Perhaps I ask a little too anxiously, perhaps I smile a little too broadly and perhaps when I gesture like a crossing guard towards the bathroom a little too vigorously he gets the idea that this whole potty thing is really my idea, something that I would like. So then he says, “No (grunt) I need to (grunt) go poo POO in my DIIIIiiiyiii (grunt) PURH (grunt). And so then I say as evenly and off-handedly as I can, because why would I care, it’s not MY idea, “Whatever you need to do dude.” And I drop it. I do not want to make this an issue.

    However, when he does use the potty, I cheer and clap my hands and give him a lot of praise for a “job” well done so that he might think this is a good idea, an idea that he himself might even think of one of these days. This is what the child-rearing-potty-training-experts tell you to do. And this is the part of the system that is flawed because the other day after going poo poo in his diapers he started clapping his hands and giving himself a rousing round of applause. If you’re crappy and you know it clap your hands?

    “The Poo Poo Driven Life” potty training system needs more research, more thought and more Sangria before the book tour.

    The Bathroom Attendant

    April 28, 2006

    Sean is two and a half now and according to the experts and what I hear other mothers saying, I should probably be thinking about potty training. I should probably have a potty training philosophy. I should probably have settled on some potty training program. I am doing nothing. I learned that lesson when I was eleven and I’m not falling for it again. I had a training bra and my boobs trained themselves just fine. I figure this is another one of those situations that I don’t really have to manage.

    Without any prodding or stage mothering on my part, Sean has shown an increased interest in the toilet — when I’m using it. Like a movie star, I have my own personal bathroom attendant that accompanies me everywhere I go. Literally, anytime and anywhere I go, he’s there. I might be honored if it were just me, but he enjoys a trip to the bathroom with anyone who’s going.

    He’s not interested in the toilet, as some children are, as a way of disposing of cell phones or important papers. No. For Sean, the bathroom is another den — a place to take guests to hang out, be comfortable, have a drink, chat. If you’ve visited the House of Antique, and used the restroom, you’ve experienced Sean’s hospitality.

    I hear some mothers lament that they never get to pee by themselves now that they have children, but honestly, when’s the last time you saw a woman go to the restroom alone? We always go in pairs at the very least. And even if you are alone, you can always make a friend in line. So, as the only female in the house, I kind of enjoy the company.

    Sometimes he holds on to my arm, making sure that I won’t fall in. Other times he pats my knee and tells an engaging story with lots of big hand gestures and explosion sound effects. Usually I get praise when I’m done. Always he stands faithfully by, ready to dispense toilet paper — one square at a time.

    I figure this is good practice for the day in the not so distant future when he will have to help his ancient mother to the bathroom. I just hope he remains as enthusiastic. I also hope he gets a little more free with the toilet paper.