Potty Eye

by Sonya Feher on December 8, 2010

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“Mama, you have pee on your glasses,” is just one more thing I never expected to hear in this lifetime. Parenthood offers many opportunities.

Our latest is potty learning. Just so you know, that term drove me crazy for a while too, the PCness of it as opposed to the much more familiar “potty training.” What I’m finding, however, is that potty learning is actually much more accurate. The multitude of things one must learn about using a toilet was beyond my understanding.

Explaining to my (then) three-year-old that when he wakes up to pee and has an erection, he actually has to touch his penis while he pees. “Use your finger and push it down or the pee goes between the toilet seat and the bowl. Aim for the water. Yes you can do it without peeing on your fingers.” In the meantime, pee is covering his hand, leaking between the tank and seat, and I catch a whiff of urine as I step into the shower every morning.

The peeing in the potty thing started with trying to use kid potties but Cavanaugh didn’t like them. Neither did I, frankly. The mess of peeing into a plastic contraption, and not arcing urine over the top, was challenge enough. Add to that the likelihood that I would spill said pee on my way to pour it in the toilet and I was not a fan.

All of that was about a year and a half ago. He was fascinated originally, then decided diapers were just easier. All of the Thomas the Train and Bob the Builder underpants stopped being exciting. So we went to pants with no underwear, no diaper. Then back to diapers. About six months ago, he was interested in and ready to start peeing in the potty again. He was tall enough. It was easier. He didn’t like a wet diaper anymore. By then, I’d let go of any agenda about timing, not that I ever had a deadline (but I was sure frustrated when he clearly could pee in the toilet and just didn’t want to). 

Six months ago or so, Cavanaugh decided he was ready to pee in the potty again. Fine by me. Maybe he was just waiting to get tall enough. Standing up and peeing into a grown-up toilet was so much easier than the plastic potties, even if it meant using a step stool or letting Cavanaugh stand on the tops of my feet so that he could clear the rim.

I asked Cavanaugh’s dad and fathers of other small children how they were teaching boys to pee (or how they peed themselves). Do you use hands? No hands? What about the dribble at the end? The consensus was that peeing is messy business. I encouraged Cavanaugh to tip a little so his pee would aim down. That resulted in his resting his head on the bottom of the toilet seat as it was propped up against the tank. Those things are nasty. Then came peeing with an erection. We’re still working on that one.

In July, when I accidentally forgot to put him in a nighttime diaper, Cavanaugh woke up in the morning dry. Then didn’t want to wear diapers at night anymore. We’ve had a handful of accidents in four+ months, so I’ve been thrilled. Cavanaugh wakes up, not so thrilled, announcing, “Mama, I’m leaking” and we make a quick run to the restroom.

Can I just tell you that is one of my least favorite ways to wake up, topped only by his not waking up beforehand so that the puddle is in the bed and Cavanaugh is in tears because his pants are wet. He also is upset when he spills water on his pants, so it’s not even embarrassment at having an accident. There is no shame, only the assurance that accidents happen and that’s why we have to practice. The rest of this potty learning business though feels like walking through the house in the dark.

How’s it going for you?

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Sonya Feher (29 Posts)

Sonya Fehér is mama to Cavanaugh True. She is the leader of the S. Austin chapter of API and is a professional organizer with spaceWise Organizing where she helps individuals and families create space for how they want to live.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy December 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

My son is almost 20 months and knows when he fills his diaper. He would tap his diaper at 9months when he’d wet & at 11/12 mo. he’d run to the bathroom to poop- so we got a floor potty chair for him. It was great- almost done “learning” at 15 mo. old but, he then decided he didn’t want to after a long camping vacation.
Now he’s not wanting to go on the seat or potty chair. I do NOT think it’s because he isn’t ready. (he points & says wet after he goes and often pushes his hips forward when he’s about to pee & will pat his butt after he poops.) This is more of an “I don’t want to stop what I’m doing & do what you want me to!” I ‘make” him pick up his toys – sit in the high chair or at the table to eat- put pjs on for bed – say please and thank you… how do I encourage him to pee & poop in the right place for a child that knows what he’s doing.
I don’t know how to possatively do this without turning it into a power struggle between two stubborn rams. ;)

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Shannon December 8, 2010 at 7:30 pm

I recently found out that you have to teach girls to point their pee down too. She didn’t quite hit my eye, but it did mean I had pee on my shirt at Disneyland, so that was nice.
We are having a horrible time with rashes, which were never a big deal in diapers. Convincing her to lay down, be still and let me do a full wipe is pretty hard.

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apprenticemom December 9, 2010 at 12:58 am

Have you considered that it might be the full wipe and the toilet paper causing the rashes? We changed the brand we were buying once, and all of a sudden, there was a rash problem.

Try to find a brand that was not processed with chlorine, and then just dab gently – see if that helps.

Oh, the other thing that really made a difference? Making sure she was in seemless full coverage undies and not those skimpies that climb up. I had to order the organic cotton briefs from Hanna Andersen, because I couldn’t find any decent ones in the stores.

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apprenticemom December 9, 2010 at 12:54 am

I’m in the midst of the process with my 2 year old son. Here’s the tip I got from my father, who was one of seven boys, raised by mom, grandma, and greatgrandma: please sit down to pee.

Maybe it is a Brit thing, but I can tell you, there is almost no “messy business” when boys sit down to pee. No more so than when my daughter learned, that is. Also, there is no issue about height.

As the person who cleans the bathroom (and uses it, too, obviously), I really appreciate the difference this makes.

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Andrea December 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

My son says potty training because he loves trains!

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Theresa December 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm

I second the sitting to pee comment. My husband does it, and many of our male friends do as well. If any of our friends don’t, I often know after they’ve been over because I find evidence (dried up drops of urine) on the toilet later on. That is just nasty!

My son will learn to pee by sitting on the toilet. Obviously he’ll need to learn to stand eventually, so he knows how to use urinals – but that will come second!

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Leslie December 11, 2010 at 7:31 pm

I potty trained my nephew who loved firetrucks at the time. he had no interest in the potty even at nearly four years old. One day made a big deal and pretended there was a fire in the toilet bowl, and told him that i needed a fireman with a hose to put out the fire. (he referred to his penis as a hose in the bath earlier that day). He pulled his pants down, stood there, and with perfect aim, put out the “fire.” After that, we always knew when he had to go potty because he would make siren sounds and pretend to be going to the fire. My husband also would throw three or four cheerios into the toilet and tell him that those were the fire and that he had to “hit” each one with his pee pees to get the fire all the way out. Potty training was so much fun with him!

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Maureen McCarthy January 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I found that the easiest way for my son to learn to use a toilet was to have him straddle the toilet seat facing BACKWARD. That way he didn’t fall in, and his penis was already already aimed in the right direction. It’s been a long time, but I think he only had to hold his penis if he had an erection. For motivation, I recommend “Toilet Learning: The Picture Book Technique for Children and Parents.” My son loved it. It had drawings of firefighters, police officers and doctors all sitting on the toilet. Good luck, all!

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