You see that wretched looking brown thing at the top of the picture? That’s Monkey. He’s been with Will since Day 1. There isn’t a night that goes by when Will and Monkey aren’t together. He cuddles Monkey, he chews on Monkey, he kisses Monkey. And now, it appears he has renamed Monkey.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Monk!
Yup, that’s right. Just like Prince goes through transformational identity crises, so too does Monkey. Will informed me recently that “Monkey is a baby name.” Then he decreed, in no uncertain terms, we were no longer allowed to address his prized possession by its former moniker. Apparently Will stopped over at the Stuffed Animal Social Security Office (SASSO) and filed the appropriate documents for a legal name change to Monk. Which, quite obviously, is much more grown-up.
I guess I should’ve seen this coming.
My son has been rebelling against almost everything lately, and even altered his own name. We can’t call him “baby,” “pumpkin” or “Stinker Butts” anymore. Hell, he told us we’re not even allowed to call him “Will.” He actively demands we refer to him as William. Sometimes he even goes so far as to order us to address him as “William George.” I joked with him that I should just get it over with and refer to him henceforth as “King William II of Monument Beach.” He liked that one, but fortunately had trouble pronouncing it and promptly forgot about it.
Also, now that he’s fully potty-trained he demands to do his business in private. Before, when he was scared, we needed to be right next to him. Sometimes holding his hand. Now the little bastard cocks his head to one side, gives me a pissy look and demands his privacy.
Just goes to show they grow up fast. But on the bright side, it gave me a chance to post a clip of one of my favorite movies of all time. Enjoy young, thin Vince Vaughn & Swingers!
When the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in 2002, I was ecstatic. When the Red Sox broke an 86 year drought in 2004 to take home the World Series title, I was over the moon. And the Celtics victory over the evil Lakers in 2008 truly had me dancing in the streets. Yet none of these watershed moments compare to the celebration MJ and I engaged in this weekend.
Will pooped in the potty!
Most of you are parents so you’ll understand the significance of this moment. But for the uninitiated, this signifies the end of diapers and pull-ups. Pull-ups that currently cost $30 per package. But more importantly, it also means we’re one step closer to having Will be able to go to the bathroom all by himself. No more diaper changes, wrapping the diaper in plastic bags and having it stink up the trash until we take it out. It is a truly beautiful thing.
So you’re probably wondering how we did it. I warn you, it’s probably not the most politically correct method, so prepare yourselves.
You see, Will’s been peeing in the toilet for months now but poop has been a problem. We’ve tried everything. Waiting until he’s ready, positive reinforcement, bribery…you name it we tried it. And the reason we tried is because he was ready. He knew when he had to poop, would tell us, but then refuse to go in the toilet. So after hours of pleading with him and begging him, we’d end up putting a pull-up on him at which point he’d take his dump.
But on Saturday night MJ and I both snapped. And we dug in.
We put Will on the toilet when he said he had to poop, as we have done countless times in the past. But this time, we didn’t let him out. Yup, that’s right. We physically blocked the door to the bathroom and wouldn’t let him leave until he pooped in the potty (he’s still a little afraid of sitting on the toilet, so we used a plastic potty). Don’t get me wrong, we sat with him and gave him positive reinforcement. But we also let him know, in no uncertain terms, that he wasn’t leaving that room until he dropped the Cleveland Browns off at the Super Bowl.
I won’t lie, after an hour it looked pretty bleak. We were heartbroken and doubting ourselves because Will was crying, and we were tired and beaten down. I was close to giving up. But that’s when my wife pulled out all the stops, with a move so brazen I nearly choked when she did it.
“William George,” she said, commanding attention by using his middle name. “If you don’t poop in the potty tonight, the Easter Bunny isn’t going to come.”
I was shocked. My head snapped around to look at her with a “Really?!?!?” look on my face. To be fair, she looked a little doubtful that she was doing the right thing too. But since nothing else had worked, we stuck with it. And less than 10 minutes later—fearful of losing out on Easter loot— he dropped his deuce.
I’m 31 and MJ is 33. We’re both grown adults. Which is why it felt pretty surreal to be dancing around our house, high-fiving each other following a bowel movement from our 3-year-old. I mean really, we celebrated our son depositing human feces in a plastic bucket like we had just won the lottery. We kept going back in the bathroom to look and marvel at the glorious independence that dookie represented. I tried to take a picture of it but MJ insisted that’d be crossing the line.
In fact, we celebrated so hard and so loud we scared the shit (pun intended) out of Will who was crying and standing up in the bathroom waiting for one of us to stop dancing so his ass could be wiped.
All the experts say you can’t force a kid to poop in the potty. They say wait until he’s ready and follow his cues. But as we proved this weekend, the experts are morons. If you really want to potty train your kid in a hurry, do it the old fashioned way: through fear and threats involving mythical creatures. Sure the hippie, new age parents will look down on you for it, but those judgmental bastards were gonna do that anyways.
It’s a good thing the Easter Bunny trick worked though. If not, we would’ve had to tell him Santa’s life depends on his poop. Or every time he fails to crap in the potty, a reindeer dies and the tooth fairy has one of her wings ripped off.
I’ve done some crazy things in my life. Bizarre things. But none of them compare to the nutty shit I find myself saying and doing now that I’m a parent.
For one reason or another, I think the wackiest behavior parents display emerges during the potty training process. Probably because parents are so sick of buying and changing diapers around their child’s third birthday they’ll do anything—and I mean ANYTHING—to rid themselves of their dependence on disposable diapers.
Such is the case with Will.
He’s great about peeing. When he has to pee he runs in the bathroom, grabs his little stool, lifts up the seat (that one was all MJ), pulls down his pants and lets loose. He is 100% accident free when it comes to #1. But pooping has been a different story. He will only poop in his pull-up. Now some “experts” say not to rush kids and to wait for their cues. But I know Will is ready for toilet poopage.
He tells us before he has to poop by saying “Dada, it’s OK to poop now?” At first I tried to put him on the toilet but he’d have a first-class freakout. So for the last month or so I’ve been putting a pull-up on him when he tells me he has to take a dump. But recently I came up with an idea and yesterday I tried it out.
I told him we’re going to buy Batman stickers and a calendar. Each time he poops in the toilet he gets a sticker. If he accumulates 10 stickers, he gets a toy of his choosing. When I asked him what toy he wants as his prize, he said “The biggest Woody or Buzz toy at Target.” Awesome. Now we had a plan and Will gave himself a goal. But would it work?
Last night he told us he had to poop and that he wanted a pull-up. I reminded him about our sticker system and his face lit up. And then—for the first time ever—he willingly went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet.
Unfortunately, that’s where our success ended.
He was a little scared and hesitant to “feed the toilet” with his poop. So we did what any good parents would do in that situation. We tried to bribe him. We offered him cookies, viewings of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, snuggles in mom and dad’s bed and the playing of Sugarland’s “Stuck Like Glue” song complete with animated dancing from me and MJ.
None of it worked.
I racked my brain for ways to get this kid to defecate in the toilet. All the expert books say to make a really big deal out of even the smallest achievements. I tried to think of more ways I could do just that, when all of a sudden I got an idea. The spectacular Corey Haim 80s movie “Lucas” was on recently. And at the end, after Lucas had almost been killed during the varsity football game, he comes back to school and finds a letterman jacket in his locker. And then—as is the case with all transcendent 80s movies—someone starts the “slow clap.”
Here’s what happens when you try to apply a love of crappy movies with potty training your kids.
He’s not even 3 yet and already he’s reduced to just covering his eyes while his wackjob parents try to slow clap a poop, as he utters “This is too weird.”
Get used to it kid. Your parental humiliation has not even begun!
(And no, he didn’t poop. But we’re working on it.)
As any parent will tell you, potty training is almost always a work in progress.
Will is pretty good about it, although he’s not fully there yet. He doesn’t crap in the toilet. Never has and it feels like he never will. The silver lining is he doesn’t like pooping in his underwear, so when he has to take the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl he tells us and we put a pull-up on him. Hey, it’s a start.
But peeing in the toilet is a whole different story.
He is great about not peeing his pants and I’d say he’s 95% potty trained in that regard. We remind him about it and ask him if he has to pee every hour, but he’s pretty good about telling us he has to go. That and he grabs his junk and walks around squeezing it like he’s trying to put a crimp in a garden hose. What can I say? My extensive daddy observational skills pick up on the little things.
Despite weeks of success, the last few days have been a little bumpy. Will steps on the stool, pulls his pants down and looms over the toilet like usual. Except nothing is coming out now.
“Dad, it’s not working,” he says in the cutest way imaginable.
At first I just told him to try again. Didn’t work. So then I ran the faucet thinking the sound of water would make him have to pee more. But I forgot he doesn’t like noise so that just pissed (pun very much intended) him off even more. In one of my more desperate and ill-conceived moments, I actually told him to blow on it. I know, I know. I’m an idiot.
But then I had a Eureka moment.
“Hey bud, how ’bout if Dad pees with you and we race?”
This must have sparked Will’s competitive spirit because he immediately brightened right up and rose to the challenge. I moved his stool to the right so I could fit in next to him, and we prepared for a phallic duel of epic proportions. We each held our weapons firmly in our hands and I told him we’d fire on the count of three. But my little cheater jumped the gun.
I didn’t even get to 2 before he let loose a stream into the toilet bowl. Not wanting to lose, I quickly followed suit and the race was on. Will was laughing hysterically and I was silently patting myself on the back for coming up with such a great idea to make potty training fun.
But it turns out it was a little too fun.
Will was laughing so hard and getting so excited during our pee race, that he began listing to his left and coming dangerously close to falling off the stool. In mid-stream. And I was still going as well. Now for those of you with lady parts, I will tell you that stopping once you start is hellish. And, quite simply, out of the question. So I did my best to use my right hip to keep Will balanced on the stool all the while making sure our respective streams stayed within the porcelain target.
Easier said than done.
Will’s left foot slipped completely off the stool. I was somewhat able to catch him with my hip and get him back on, but not before he instinctively turned his whole body toward me. Yup, that’s right. He sprayed me full on. A good dad would’ve just taken the punishment and avoided further catastrophe. But what can I say? I’m squeamish when it comes to getting peed on. So I jerked my body away from his pee stream which meant I momentarily directed my own urinary arc away from the toilet and onto the wall. I was relieved initially because I thought I missed Will, but come to find out the pee ricocheted off the wall and got him in the back.
The stunned silence in the immediate aftermath of this fiasco was broken by my son.
“Dada?” he said quizzically.
“You pee on me Dad.”
“To be fair, you peed on me first.”
Then the two of us just started cracking up laughing. Belly laughs. Guffaws and hysterical cackling to the point I would’ve peed myself all over again if I hadn’t just soaked my toddler.
When we turned our attention to the bathroom it looked like a crime scene. Will peed on me and himself. I pissed on the wall and — thanks to the splatter — Will’s back. What started as a fun way to approach potty training had turned into an episode of CSI. Or the back room of a really disgusting fetish club.
The worst part is a precedent has now been set and he wants to race me every single time he has to pee. Anyone have a haz-mat suit?
Didn’t think I could draw a parallel between sports and potty training? Well here it comes…
In the 2004 AFC divisional playoffs, the Patriots played the Colts and no one thought there was any way the Pats defense could stop the high-octane passing attack of Peyton Manning. All week long leading up to the game people wondered how coach Bill Belichick would manage to slow down that offense. They talked of highly complicated defensive formations, bend but don’t break and countless other schemes Belichick might employ.
But in the end, he and the Patriots did it the old fashioned way.
My favorite player of all time in any sport is Tedy Bruschi. And in that game, Bruschi made a play I’ll never forget. Running back Dominic Rhodes caught a short screen pass and tried to run with it. Instead of simply tackling Rhodes, Bruschi charged up to him and ripped the ball out of his hands. Fast forward to the 2:30 mark of this video to see the clip.
I’m not talking punched the ball out or anything like that. Tedy Bruschi took the ball from Rhodes. He walked up to him, grabbed it with both hands and took it with brute force and sheer strength. Nothing fancy, nothing cerebral, nothing touchy-feeling about it. He knew what he wanted, he wanted it more than the other guy, so he made it happen.
That’s the point I’m at with Will when it comes to potty training right now.
I’ve read the books and I’ve perused the Internet and parenting message boards. There are 1,001 ways parents can potty train their kids. And it seems the prevailing notion is not to rush them, make it as fun as possible and stay positive at all times.
I tried that bullshit. Never again.
So starting on Monday I chose a new method: drill instructor. This is problematic because I’ve never served in the armed forces and I’m a huge pansy. But compared to a 2.5-year-old, I’m only a slight pansy so I can get away with it. But basically I’m done with catering to my son and blowing sunshine up his ass even when he’s failing miserably and refusing to cooperate.
So now, when he wakes up in the morning, he goes to the potty. Or should I say, I lock him and myself in the bathroom and battle with him until he relents. He screams and cries and spits but I don’t care. He’s not leaving that bathroom until he’s pissed in the potty. And yes, I physically hold him down on the seat. I’d never hurt my child so there’s no physical harm involved, but he is not allowed to get up until he completes the mission at hand.
The first morning it took 25 minutes. Twenty-five minutes of screaming and wrestling the likes of which you can’t imagine. MJ was on the other side of the door in tears, but I forbade her from entering. It was a battle to be sure, but you know what? He did it. On Tuesday it took about 15 minutes. This morning he was done in less than five minutes.
And it’s not like I’m a total dictator about it. Each time he successfully goes in the potty, he has his choice of a treat. He can choose to have a blackberry (I love that he thinks of blackberries in the same category as candy!) or he can exercise his privilege to lay on mom and dad’s bed and watch TV. There’s your positive reinforcement.
I know some of you will disagree. You think we should tippy-toe around our offspring and wait until they have a spiritual movement to defecate in a plastic container. Well fuck that. Will has displayed all of the signs that he’s ready for potty training. He knows when he has to go. He can hold in pee and poop for hours at a time. He dislikes being in a soiled diaper. He’s ready. He’s been ready for months. The problem is (largely because of our negligent daycare provider I’m sure) he got lazy.
But that’s over with now.
Just as the Patriots needed the ball back, I need my money back and not buying diapers anymore will certainly help with that. Bruschi wanted to move on to the Super Bowl, I need my kid to poop in a bowl. Like Tedy Bruschi in 2004, I’m taking this one by sheer force. And I too will be victorious.