I probably don't need to tell you that I don't know anything about potty-training, despite successfully making a diaper cake and changing my first newborn diaper this year. But I've heard enough horror stories from my own mother and seen other friends begging for advice on Facebook to understand that teaching a toddler how to use the bathroom is not always the easiest thing to do.
But still, not leaving the house? For an entire weekend? That seemed a little extreme.
I went over to Danielle’s to find her and Greyson in the front yard playing. The three of us stood out there for a while, until it got too hot, and then we went indoors. Danielle and I didn't waste any time catching up on each other's lives while also trying to entertain Greyson.
While standing in her kitchen, I noticed a stash of salty, unhealthy foods on Danielle's table. I looked the bags of cheese puffs and Little Debbie cakes and was confused.
“What’s with all of this?” I asked. Owning this much junk food was out of character for Danielle. Food of any kind strewn across her kitchen table was very out of character for her.
"The junk food makes him thirsty . . . which makes him drink water . . . ,” her voice trailed off as if these two pieces of information should all make sense to me, but I was confused. I shook my head slowly, a vacant look on my face.
“Then he has to use the bathroom . . . it helps him to understand the difference between being wet and dry,” she kept explaining.
That technique seemed a little strange to me, but Danielle is an excellent mother, so I trusted she knew what she was doing (at least better than I did).
But I noticed, after she interrupted the conversation with her third or fourth, "Greyson, are you wet? Do you need to sit on the potty?," that he didn't seem to be "getting" what she was saying.
"So what's the deal?," I had to ask her, "He's not into it?"
"Um, no," she said, "He doesn't care if he’s wet or dry. He'd cruise around with poop in his pants for days if I let him."
I looked down at Greyson's sweet little face as he ran through Danielle's kitchen without any shorts on. He squealed and laughed while doing a little dance.
"See?," Danielle asked me.
She was right. Greyson didn't seem at all concerned with using the potty.
Even when we'd run him into the bathroom multiple times during one hour and force him to sit on it, he did so willingly, but seemed completely uninterested. We'd clap wildly and make a big deal about throwing the pee-pee from the little potty into the big potty, and he looked at us like we were nuts.
This went on for several hours; ample time for Danielle and I to catch up, but not much time to do anything else. Day 293’s thing I’ve never done before was to help potty-train a two-year old.
Frequent trips to the bathroom are the reason why going out into public is simply not feasible while potty-training. Potty-training takes commitment, stamina, and as Danielle and I were realizing, a child that wants to learn how.
Greyson, at least not at that time, was not.
There were several moments when I was borderline harassing Greyson to tell me if he needed to go to the bathroom, chasing him from room to room to ensure that he hadn't already gone, and sitting with him in the bathroom for long periods of time both of us staring at each other.
As far as all of my friends’ children are concerned, I am interested in one thing: being the absolute coolest aunt I can possibly be, gaining their adoration and unconditional love. I felt myself quickly moving from “Cool Aunt,” to “Mommy’s Sidekick.”
I was only a few hours invested into the project, and I cared more than he did. Selfishly, I wanted to make it happen (as if potty-training can happen in one afternoon), so that I could leave Danielle’s house confident that I would be able to say to Greyson later in life, “I was there when you were potty-trained.”
But considering I’ve been with Danielle for so many of these milestones in her life, in my life, and in her kids’ lives, it really wasn’t. In fact, I had to laugh, when at one point during the day, I took over for Danielle and took Greyson to the bathroom by myself. He sat on his little potty and I sat across from him, and we both looked at each other. It was like staring into Danielle’s elementary school face when we used to “play house,” on the playground at Harbison West. Only now we’re playing house for real! With her kids!
This version of “house” we were playing out in real life was far less glamorous, and not nearly like the one we had concocted all those years ago. But somehow the real thing felt a lot better, and I smiled to think about how far we’ve come.
After a stressful day of semi-parenting, I left Danielle at her house and went to the beach to meet my friend Adam. When his friends asked me where I'd been most of the day, I told them I'd been with my best friend, helping potty-train her son.
"That sounds terrible," one of them said.
But it wasn't terrible at all. It was pretty hilarious. And awesome.
***I'm happy to report that Greyson has, since Day 293, been potty-trained, without junk food, which Danielle tossed the next day. And no surprise, I had nothing to do with it.***