Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Potty Train Has Left the Station

Monday morning Andi woke up wearing nothing but a train conductor’s hat. Little did I know she had decided to board the potty train. We’d been laying the tracks for well over a year with comments like, “When you are ready, you can go potty like Sophia/Ella/mommy, too.” We’d bought pretty “underwears” of her choice and her self-selected princess potty chair waited patiently in the corner of my bedroom. Every now and then during the past year Andi would buy a ticket for the potty train, but it was usually the round-trip type of ticket that landed her back in the land of diaperly comfort.

It was hard for me not to want to grab the conductor hat from her and place it on my own head. Directing the potty train though, would have only ended in a power struggle and as a professional I knew better. But as a mom that was tired of changing diapers and spending money on them, the temptation to buy her a one way ticket on the potty train to the land of “underwears” was nearly overpowering.

Potty training really is about control and the tickets are not sold to parents – though some parents will hijack the station for a ticket, or even resort to a hostile takeover of the train Wild West style. But knowing Andi’s need for control (as well as my own), I planfully spent the last one-and-a-half years softly and matter-of-factly introducing the concept using language that always put the ball in Andi’s court. There were perks to boarding the potty train, of course, such as free M&M’s with each successful trip. Becoming a big girl was the glamour that came only with a one-way ticket.

With the twins, Sophia potty trained in one day. Ella, on the other hand, wasn’t ready at the same time as Sophia. With the pressure of a new baby arriving and the deadline for no-diapers-allowed preschool looming, I had grabbed the conductor’s hat from Ella. By the time Ella’s potty training was over, two things had happened. The conductor’s hat lay shredded and destroyed at our feet, and Ella asking – still to this day – “when do I get to ride the potty train?” As if it really is an actual train.

The red blinking lights warned us to stand back as the black and white guard arms abruptly lowered this past week at the train crossing, directing us to stand back from the tracks and wait patiently until the caboose goes by on it’s one way trip to the land of big girls, underwears, and diaper-free preschools. Andi was firmly in the conductor’s seat, even emptying her own potty seat into the big toilet. My only role has been to pass out M&M’s and wave good-bye as Andi sailed past us waving with not a white hankie in hand, but a diaper which we saw her let loose. It got caught in the wind of the quickly moving train and I saw it land in Babyhood Township just as Andi crossed over the state line to Big Girl City.

Next stop, Chuck E. Cheese for a celebration.

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