Our approach thus far to potty training has been not to approach it all. As E has shown some interest we've provided her with the basic accoutrements, like cushy mini-seats that nestle inside the regular toilet seat, and a Dora the Explorer book about being a big girl and using the potty, which has a very exciting button the reader can push to initiate a little electronic toilet-flushing sound. Every page says "Ready to flush?" and points to the button. And E loves to have it read to her while she eats her dinner, usually black beans. Bite of beans, flush the potty, bite of beans, flush the potty. Efficient, no?
Anyway. So sometimes E wants to use the potty and we encourage her. And sometimes she'll use diapers all day long and we haven't really pushed her at all. It's been a gradual climb out of incontinence; it was New Year's Day that she first put her pee-pees in the potty, to use her vernacular. But you know, we also had a two-week old on New Year's Day, so there have been several reasons why we haven't pushed this too much.
So. E's been using the potty with success two or three times a day, most days, at school. And the amazing Ms. Williams, E's teacher, has been encouraging her in a much more active way than we have. One of the girls in E's class became completely potty-trained and then also graduated up to the three-year-old class and she left behind a stack of unneeded pull-ups. So when E's been putting her pee-pees or her poops in the potty, Ms. Williams has been rewarding her by swaddling her cute little tush in a pull-up instead of a diaper.
Not surprisingly, E began asking for pull-ups at home. I told her when we open the last sleeve of our diaper supply I'd buy her pull-ups. Meanwhile, we've started actively encouraging the potty instead of just following her lead. For about a week, E peed on the potty every night before bedtime. Then, she suddenly stopped. There were so many other enticements in the evening. We'd recently moved her to her big girl bed. To get the bed to fit, we removed the rocking chair. So the new bedtime routine included drinking milk in bed instead of in the chair, and somehow this incorporated a bedtime book, too, whereas previously the last book was always read downstairs. And, because of a bad cough she'd had, we'd recently substituted her nighttime milk with soy milk. Soy milk tastes bad, so we'd been adding a little chocolate syrup to it. And when E realized that sitting on the potty was just delaying the joy of drinking milk in a big-girl bed while having a book read to her...apparently waving bye-bye to pee-pees just can't compete.
Also, her new favorite bed-time stall tactic had been to declare the pee-pees coming just at tuck-in time. So we instituted a new rule: girls who don't try to pee in the potty before climbing into bed don't get to climb back out to pee later. It was okay not to try, but then she'd have to pee in her diaper the rest of the night.
The pull-ups, though, they were tantalizing. We began turning diapers into pull-ups at home by sticking the tabs together and having her step into her diapers. Real diapers on the horizon? Really exciting.
Last night we opened the last sleeve of diapers and I told E I would buy pull-ups if she committed to sitting on the potty regularly. It was bedtime, and she didn't want to use the bathroom; she wanted to climb up in bed and drink her chocolate drink. We did E's whole bedtime routine, and as I was leaving her bedroom she began to say, Mama, I hear the pee-pees coming...
I was conflicted. I felt proud of her, but also frustrated at her - she hadn't tried earlier, and she knew the deal about not trying and then asking to try at bedtime. And we had just discussed how regular tries were a requirement of pull-ups, so I didn't want to discourage her efforts. It didn't matter. In the time I raced through all these thoughts, E finished her sentence: Mama, I hear the pee-pees coming TOMORROW.