Note: This post is from my earlier days as a parenting columnist. One day, I will hand it off to my daughters, to help them win the gold.
My daughter has discovered a new spectator sport: watching Mommy go to the bathroom.
So much for privacy, but I only have myself to blame. After all, I’m the one who opened the door of opportunity to her, so to speak. I did it because I thought it would help get her potty trained. Everything else I had tried failed.
And try I did. Several months ago, for example, I bought my daughter her very own potty seat. Much to my surprise, she used it immediately—as a purse. In it she stuck her most precious belongings: the doll with no head, her party shoes, a box of half-eaten crayons.
She carried that potty around from room to room as if it were a briefcase full of government secrets. Dare to lift the lid, and she’d deliver a quick karate chop to your wrists. Eventually, she grew tired of it, and it found its way into the corner of her room where out-of-favor toys collect dust.
So it was back to the drawing board and my parenting books. One book suggested that I keep my daughter’s diaper off for extended periods of time so she could become more attuned to her body. Sounded great to me, but what a curious thing. My daughter, who always hated having a diaper put on, suddenly hated having one taken off. After several wrestling bouts, I threw in the towel.
But I was not yet ready to declare defeat. On the advice of another mom, I decided to institute a reward system. Each time my daughter sat on the potty, she would get a gold star.
Within two weeks, there were more stars on our bathroom wall than in the Milky Way. Every two minutes—more frequently during meals—she’d tug at my arm and drag me off to witness yet another non-event. No sooner was she on the potty than she was off—off and running for the cabinet where the stars were kept.
Each time she pasted another star on the wall, I whispered a little prayer: “Star light, star bright, won’t you grant my wish tonight?”
But it was not to be. And so I began letting her come into the bathroom with me. I thought I could inspire her to greatness by showing her how the pros do it. Nice kid that she is, however, she didn’t want to surpass her mother. She was content to let me be the reigning champ and to cheer from the sidelines: “Good girl, Mommy!”
But then, a miracle:
One night, she walked into the bathroom, took off her diaper, sat on the potty and peed. More technically, she dribbled, for there wasn’t enough there to fill a thimble. Still, I was ecstatic, and so was she. To commemorate the occasion, we had the dribble bronzed.