Toilet Training – The Final Frontier

April 11, 2010

We tackled toilet training shortly before the twins’ second birthday. By the time they turned two, they were mostly done – though accidents continued to happen sporadically for some months.

When they turned three, Mrini suddenly decided she was night-time toilet trained too. She took to waking up when she wanted to go to the bathroom and in just one week, she was out of diapers and there was no looking back. There were only two accidents in that first week and there haven’t been any since. Apart from the occasional visit to the toilet, she usually sleeps through the night and is in no hurry to use the toilet even when she wakes up.

Tara, on the other hand, was occasionally (and not so very occasionally either) wetting her bed during her afternoon nap till as recently as a month or so ago. So of course she was still in diapers at night. I had tried to take the diaper off a couple of times, but I’d never really been convinced that she was ready. One time I kept her off diapers for a week. She wet the bed five times… twice in the same night on one occasion. The two nights she didn’t wet the bed was only because I woke her up and plonked her on the toilet twice during the night. So, apparently, I got lucky and “caught it”. But clearly, she was not ready – so after one week, she was back on diapers and we all slept easy.

Lazy as I am, and distasteful as it is to have to wake up in the middle of the night to a wet and wailing child and sodden and stinky sheets, I decided I was in no hurry to get Tara out of her nighttime diaper. I’m sure I earned a lot of scorn from all those who observed this “big” girl still being put in a diaper at night, but who cares? Night time bladder control had come so easily and painlessly to Mrini, I was just going to wait patiently till Tara reached that stage, even if it took her some years to do so. I am not the sort to brag about how soon my kids acquired this skill or that – you know, the “I had my daughters completely toilet trained at the age of two-and-a-half months” type. I learnt to walk when I was 20 months old. I remember still sucking my thumb when I must have been at least five. I learnt to read so late that my parents thought I was dyslexic (and perhaps I was) – so what? The fact remains that, despite being behind in so many major developmental milestones, I still grew up. I did eventually learn to walk, I did learn other ways of coping with stress (chocolate!) and I not only learnt to read, I made up for lost time – and then some!

I have also wholeheartedly adopted the philosophy of letting my daughters dictate as much of their lives as they reasonably can. They obviously don’t have a choice about sitting in a car seat, brushing their teeth, or going to school etc; but they are absolutely free to choose what clothes to wear, how much to eat at mealtimes… and whether or not they are ready to stay dry at night, or try to.

Recently the weather has been really hot. Naturally, Tara began to wake up with a dry diaper – even with the fan running, a lot of water was lost by sweating. I did ask her a few times if she’d like to skip her diaper, but she really didn’t want to. Then suddenly one day, she said she didn’t want her diaper. It wasn’t much of a risk, with the hot weather and the long “dry run” so I was only too happy to let her sleep diaperr-less. After that, she really wanted the diaper only one day and the rest of the nights has been happy to go to sleep without it. And there have been no accidents.

Unfairly or otherwise, I’m still holding my breath, figuratively speaking. I feel that it’s only a matter of time before the weather turns cooler and she stops sweating it out. I’m not convinced that she has really acquired the ability to wake up when she needs to go to the bathroom; it’s just that it is too hot and she can go longer periods with needing to. So when we went to Pondicherry two weeks ago, reluctantly and against my own better judgement, I put her back in night-time diapers. Pondicherry was even hotter than Bangalore, but the room was air-conditioned. The change in temperature could have unexpected results on her bladder control ability. And I really didn’t have the wherewithal to cope with an accident of that sort – and with all four of us in one bed at that!

The diaper, it turned out, was redundant on both nights.

What’s more, just a couple of nights later, she woke me up in the middle of the night saying she wanted to go to the bathroom. So maybe I’m wrong – maybe she has, at last, learnt how to wake herself up when she needs to go. Maybe, just maybe, we don’t need to buy any more diapers. And maybe, just maybe, I could take a chance on keeping her diaper-less even on our next trip to Pondicherry.

Of course, that’s just asking for trouble, I know. Murphy’s Law never fails. But sometimes you just have to take a chance, right?

So I did. Just to ensure I wouldn’t change my mind on the spot, I didn’t even carry a couple of diapers along. And guess what?

She was fine.

I can stop blaming it on the weather now and face the facts. I still don’t know if this little baby of mine has acquired the ability to wake herself up when she has to go to the bathroom, but she does appear to have acquired pretty impressive bladder capacity. Maybe, just maybe, when the weather does get cooler, we still won’t have any accidents. At any rate, diaper days (and nights) it seems are finally, finally over.

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