My son was five months old when his dad moved out, leaving him outnumbered in a house full of women. The poor little guy was left to figure out on his own how to do “boy things.” There’s no way I could teach him how to make those cool machine gun noises, let alone how to properly throw a baseball.
When it came time to potty train him, I didn’t really know where to start. I’d successfully trained his sisters, but they were girls - and part of their training included watching how Mom does it. That approach clearly wouldn’t work here. So, I began asking friends and family for advice.
Should I start him sitting down or standing up? He’s too short to clear the rim of the bowl, so should I pick him up and point him downward or get a step stool?
Because he was vertically challenged, I decided to start him sitting down. He hated that little guard attachment that came with the potty seat, so he popped it off and threw it away, announcing, “I don’t like it, Mama.”
After a few times of having his pee shoot straight out and down his legs instead of in the pot, I taught him how to tuck it down and lean forward. This worked pretty well, until I noticed his pee was still not hitting the water. Instead it was running under the seat and down the front of the bowl, pooling on the floor.
Now, with the bathroom stocked with Clorox towelettes and flushable baby wipes, we tried a new approach. This time he stood on a stool, with me behind him, holding him steady. He preferred to stand, but not by himself, since being up so high made him feel wobbly.
The first time he peed standing up, it shot upward, like a fire hose, nailing the back of the toilet and the surrounding wall. I couldn’t believe the force with which he peed – especially in the morning. The pressure was incredible.
So, we began to tackle the issue of aim. Recalling advice from a friend, I tossed a few Cheerios into the bowl and encouraged him to use them as a target. Confused, he looked up and told me (with a look of concern) the cereal shouldn’t go in the potty.
“No honey, you’re not going to eat it, you’re going to pee on it,” I explained. He shrugged his shoulders and complied. He tried to take aim by moving his hips from side to side and leaning forward – an approach that was creative, but not effective. Using this style, he hit the water for one, brief instant, and then ended up nailing the shower curtain, vanity and a towel rack as he swiveled his hips.
I knew I had to get him to take hold and take aim, but I wasn’t sure what terminology to use.
Penis sounded too clinical. Besides, it reminded me of story a friend once told me about growing up with her psychologist mother. The woman was strictly against using cutie-pie names like pee-pee or woo-woo to describe body parts. Instead, she insisted they use correct anatomical terminology. She felt that euphemisms were ridiculous and downright embarrassing. Sadly, her plan backfired when one of her daughters fell off her bike and ran into the house yelling at the top of her lungs, “MOM! I HURT MY VAGINA!”
I considered using the word pee-pee, but decided against it because pee-pee is what comes out and I don’t want him touching that.
Another friend (also a single mother) suggested I call it Mr. Winkie. Her daycare provider called it that and her son didn’t seem to have a problem telling Mr. Winkie where to squirt. I tried it out a few times, but it just didn’t roll off the tongue.
Finally, I settled on pee-pee maker. I know it’s a mouthful, but he gets it and I’m not embarrassed to say it out loud – which is good, because I find I’m saying it often.
“Hold your pee-pee maker and squirt it in the water.”
“No, you do it,” he says, folding his arms and piddling on the floor.
“That is your pee-pee maker, not mine. You do it.”
Still, he refused to touch it. I guess he thought he would eventually perfect his fancy-dancy hip maneuver.
After another week arguing over who was responsible for whose pee-pee maker, I finally figured out why he wouldn’t grab on and take aim. One day, after I had to aim for him, he refused to wash his hands.
His argument: “I didn’t touch anything,”
Once I convinced him that he has to wash his hands every time he goes potty, regardless of what he did or didn’t touch, he finally relented. Now, when he goes, he takes hold and hits the water a good 75% of the time, which I call success.
Potty training my son was a long, tough journey, but together, we made it through. He’s even trying to go all by himself, without help, which when he perfects his aim, will be just one more milestone that makes my life easier.
In the end, I won the potty war at my house. My boy is peeing like a pro and shows no hesitation to reach down and take matters into this own hands. In fact, this new willingness to reach down there has evolved into a sort of fondness for it. I caught him a few times just today, “feeling things out”, if you know what I mean.
The more I think about it, I guess I can claim at least partial credit for teaching him one of those “boy things.”