This is going to drive me potty…

A row of urinals.

I’ve been dreading this stage since Dylan arrived. There have been numerous parenting challenges along the way which Kate and I have either struggled over the finish line with or negotiated with aplomb, but I know this one will be my personal nemesis. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about the living nightmare that is potty training.

It’s not the fodder of childish humour I’m worried about – I’ve been covered in proverbial at four in the morning more than once and, amazingly, still eat korma – no, it’s more the battle of wills that will inevitably ensue.

Like a lot of children, Dylan is very stubborn when he doesn’t get his own way. Any changes to his routine are perceived as insults. He hits the roof if I have the temerity to suggest he wears his Gruffalo socks instead of his monkey ones, so I think it’s fair to say that this transition won’t be a smooth one.

We’ve had a potty sitting in view in the bathroom for a while so we can get him used to it. And we’ve managed to get him to sit on it fully clothed but that’s as far as it goes. Bribery has so far failed and I swear it would probably be easier to negotiate with Genghis Khan were he still around.

Not that I’m calling my son a beardy despot… or that, given the opportunity, I’d try and talk an ancient warlord into sitting on a child’s toilet.

One of the things I’ve seen recommended for persuading him that there are cooler ways of relieving oneself is – how shall I put this? – a live stand-up demonstration. The horror! I will readily admit here that I get ‘stagefright’ in scenarios like this. It dates back to a particular incident a few years ago at a certain pub in Eastbourne that I no longer go to.

All self-respecting men know the rules of the gents. Much like the first rule of Fight Club, you do not talk in said sacred room.

Secondly, if you are stood next to another man at the coalface, you either discover deep hidden meaning in the poster about personalised car number plates above or, if there isn’t one, take a moment to appreciate the paintwork that is directly in front of you.

Needless to say, a laddish sort flouted both of these directives; having a good gander and commenting on the fact that he was doing so. The git. You can see how this has done mild psychological damage, I’m sure.

Still, it had to be done – the things we do for our kids, eh? So I gave said demonstration, with laddo almost getting too close for comfort but appearing to understand that this is the norm. After a moment’s thought, his response wasn’t quite what I was expecting: “Again, Daddy!”

If he thinks that’s how potty training is going to continue, he’s got another thing coming.

So, although we’ve got a long way ahead of us, we’ll get through this terror together and I think that a demon has been exorcised. Even so, I’m not going back to that bloody pub again…


  1. Richy

    Ah, toilet training. I remember it fondly.

    Or not. My top tip is not to get too hung up on the potty itself – Heather was never keen, and we only began to see progress when we bought a couple of trainer seats, effectively bypassing the potty stage altogether.

    After that, she got the hang of number 1s in the toilet pretty quickly, but it was almost a year before we had finally cleaned our last number 2 out of a pair of pants. That was a really testing year, because she point blank refused to do them in the toilet, preferring instead to squat, fully clothed, right in front of us.

    Needless to say we’re not looking forward to repeating the exercise with Megan, although she already insists on a quick sit on the Peppa toilet seat (we even got a wee once!) before her bath. We’re taking that as a good sign…

  2. Tom Briggs

    Cheers Richy! I think one of those clever seats may be the answer – especially if we can get a Peppa Pig one. Peppa may get splashed, but I can live with that!

  3. Amanda

    Oh the joys of potty training!

    I probably take too much enjoyment from the twins dad trying to demonstrate the ‘correct’ way to pee, with shouts of “Don’t cross the streams” to “Gotcha!” its a rather funny event.

    Our boys much prefer the actual loo rather than the potty, standing on the seat when they can’t be bothered to go on tip toes!

    Richy is right, don’t get too hung up on it, if you get stressed they will pick up and start playing up, good luck!

  4. Tom Briggs

    Thanks Amanda. I love the Ghostbusters reference there and am now strangely looking forward to using those immortal words when Xander learns!

  5. JallieDaddy

    Funny! Yes, the unwritten rules of the urinal are immutable: violations are to be taken very seriously.

    Just a thought: you could have taken this lad’s attention as a compliment? Just don’t give him your ‘phone number…

    Ours are due at Nursery in March & aren’t yet fully potty trained so we’re going to blitz it in a couple of weeks. Maybe we should compare notes?

  6. brinabird

    Supposedly it’s harder with boys! Who knows? My wee man is being pretty stubborn about it all as well. He tells us when he is doing a poo but as soon as we mention potty supposedly he is not doing it anymore?!?!

  7. Tom Briggs

    Thanks both! The general consensus seems to be that kids are ‘challenging’ when it comes to this parenting battle – who knew?! Let’s all compare notes/share woes in a few weeks’ time!

  8. Sarah Miles

    Haha! I taught my son to ‘water the flowers’ which worked fairly well until I realised he thought it appropriate to drop his trousers at any outdoor location and pee on the daffs.
    I’m afraid adult demos are all too necessary. Recently I took my 2 year old to M&S for a wee and when I had my turn she declared loudly ‘well done mummy! Good girl!’ And offered to wipe. There was definite sniggering from the next door cubicle!

  9. Justin Knight

    I remember thinking this time in my son’s life would never come to an end! I can assure you, it eventually does. I am with you on the occasional stage fright too!
    Justin- Writing Pad Dad

  10. Tom Briggs

    Thanks for all your comments, tips and similar tales of bathroom-based woe! My most commented-on post in ages; turns out that toilet humour was all that was needed! 😉

  11. TrulyMadlyHannah

    Your post made my laugh, my little man is now 3 and has been trained a while, unfortunately i think hes read your tips on admiring the paintwork, but without the adult control! Which often results in a “Mummy, i wee’d on the floor…. and the wall” shouts down the stairs!

    Ive just started potty training with my 2yr old, and shes happy to wear pants instead of a nappy, and happy to sit on the potty. She just doesn’t wee on the potty thou and instead walks around the house leaving me puddles whilst refusing to wear a nappy! Im just working on praising her when she does sit and “try” on the potty, and hoping this phase passes quickly! Good luck with your little man 🙂

  12. TheBoyandMe

    Ah, I toilet-trained The Boy in the Summer of 2011 when he was 26 months and it was a fraught fortnight. Best thing we did was sit him on the potty every nappy-change for months beforehand; he always performed and that took half the battle out of the training episode. I made my husband demonstrate weeing and he was horrified, but they poor little boys have to learn somehow. I recommend keeping chocolate and coffee at hand.

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