Toilet training


Only two more weeks left. It feels as though the time I have left is slipping away quickly.

Today was book-ended by two very difficult periods. I’ll preface this post by explaining what happened over the weekend – we decided to start toilet training Clifford. He’s almost three now, and a few others in my wife’s circle of friends have already successfully gone through the training with their kids. Is this the right time? You can probably tell that I’m not quite sure. There have been indications in the past two weeks that he might be ready (he’s said on numerous occasions he needs to do go and do a wee, and has taken his nappy off, only to piss on our rug), and his teachers at daycare said that he was showing some encouraging signs.

So on the weekend, we agreed to go cold turkey with nappies (with the exception of the overnight period). It started off fairly well. I created a reward system (using an exercise book and star stickers) as an incentive to encourage him to go. With both of us at home on the weekend, we were able to monitor him pretty closely and we didn’t venture too far from the house, so we got away with a minimal number of accidents. He has some awareness of when he’s doing a wee, but nothing in terms of number twos, which still come as a complete surprise to him. We’ve set up a bucket with a heap of washing detergent that all of his clothes go in, if such an accident does occur.

This morning, my wife asked “are you still going to keep up the toilet training?” before she ran off to work. I replied with a bit of bravado, saying “yes, there’s no turning back now”. So I dressed Clifford without a nappy and started the day.

Today was a little different from the regular Monday – I’d organised to take the boys to my in-laws, or to “Nonna’s house”, as Clifford affectionately calls it. This change in routine meant that I needed to have the Monday shopping completed before I left.

The shopping centre on Monday mornings before 9am is actually a pretty good place, despite the creepiness about it that reminds me a little bit of a George Romero film. We were able to breeze through the shopping fairly quickly and stress free.

However, once we got back to the car, Clifford announced proudly that he’d done a wee. Thinking that it was only a short trip home, I put him in the car seat anyway with wet pants and forged on. Then Guy did a large number two in the car, one that necessitated all of the windows being rolled down. I said to myself: “this is the double whammy”.

I won’t go into the details (I could write a whole essay on this), but the time between when I:

  • changed the kids – both required a shower (Guy’s nappy didn’t contain the mess – another bunch of cloths in the special laundry bucket)
  • brought the shopping out (one-handed with Guy in my arm, which required three separate trips),
  • unpacked it; and then
  •  got them in the car again

was stressful to say the least.

Once I got in the car both boys were out after one song on Smooth FM.

The time at my in-laws was relaxing – they were fed well there (as they always are, my wife is of part Italian descent), and I got to go for a long run with Henry, with no missed calls from my wife yelling at me to come home. Here’s a shot of Henry taking a much needed break for water in the middle of the run:


They both slept again on the drive home. When I got back, the witching hour started, and today was a good one. Clifford woke up and demanded to be carried from the car seat to the front door, which was no more than 10 meters. I tried to reason with him that I needed to take Guy in first, but this resulted in Clifford standing at the front door in tears until I gave him a “huggy”.

After this, Guy lost it as well, and was exceptionally clingy for the rest of the afternoon, and would only stop crying when I held him in my arms. Here’s what I cooked for dinner (two separate dishes), and I managed to pretty much cook this one-handed, with a baby in the other arm:

(it’s impossible to chop garlic with a baby in one arm, but not impossible to cook the chicken)

(common sense indicates that you need to keep a baby well away from a hot oven. Don’t worry, I knew that before I started)

In the middle of it (right between when the chicken was sealed and the stock was simmering, and the carrots needed their honey glaze), Guy did another massive number two (which was just held by the nappy) and Clifford announced again that he’d done a wee. In the midst of my culinary preparations, I’d lost track of time, and let Clifford go without a toilet stop for more than 45 minutes.

When Chiara got home, I was well and truly done.Sshe walked in, saw the mess that the house was in, and casually said “I don’t know why you cook all these complex meals when you’ve got two kids”, and I was about to do the old “throw the dinner in the bin” trick. However, I decided not to when she handed me a bottle of white wine in consolation. And to add insult to injury, the kids hardly ate anything (they were so busy snacking before dinner). However, the dinner was so good that my wife and I ate all of it, and we’ve decided to add it to the weekly recipe list.

In summary, I’ve learned a few lessons today:

  • toilet training a 2 3/4 year old is hard;
  • toilet training the above with another child under 1 year under your care is very difficult;
  • don’t try new, complicated recipes (my wife has a point) when you’re attempting toilet training – tomorrow is basic pasta);
  • there is no room for anyone to be squeamish around that sort of stuff;
  • there is also no room for taking yourself too seriously in these sorts of situations.

So I’m going to push on tomorrow, regardless. I think I’ve been through the worst already.


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