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.