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.

Too Tired To Think Straight

August 26, 2009

I’m tired. I’m so tired, I can’t think straight. I have so many things to blog about, that really probably should be entirely separate posts, and some of them probably should not even be blogged about at all, but I’m too tired to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

I’ve been tired since last Wednesday. I’ve not had a chance to stop and catch up on myself, so the tiredness is just accumulating and the end of the week is soooooooo far away. Meanwhile, I’m so tired that I nap at the traffic lights while driving (isn’t that a great idea?). I was tempted to nap while waiting ten minutes outside the kids’ school to pick them up, but then I thought, what if I nap and don’t wake up for an hour or two? I’m so tired that I’ve even stopped listening to music while driving, because even listening to music takes effort. I honestly never knew that before.

Anyhow, yesterday morning I was so pleased because Mrini woke up at 5.30 a.m., said, “Mama, sussu,” went to the bathroom, peed, flushed, and went back to bed without any intervention on my part whatsoever. Wow! She’s been staying dry through the night for a couple of weeks, so I removed her nighttime diaper about ten nights ago. She’s had two accidents since then – which is not too bad really. And now this! My babies are growing up!

Not Tara so much, though. She still has an accident if she sleeps too long in the afternoon, so she’s clearly not ready for nighttime toilet training any time soon. But I don’t mind, really, if she takes her time about it.

It’s strange, though, how Mrini seems so grown up compared to Tara that she actually seems somewhat older than her. She talks more, and more coherently, she picks up activities and concepts faster, she applies herself more diligently, she’s more sensible and more responsible overall… in so many ways, she just seems to be older. I don’t think it has anything to do with birth order; this is just the way she is. It is not a good thing or a bad thing – it’s just interesting to see how two kids, genetically identical and raised in the same environment and circumstances, can have such different personalities and abilities.

One thing Mrini hasn’t figured out yet, is what exactly it means to be “smart”.

See, we listen to The Wombles in the car all the time – because they love it. There’s one song called “Underground Overture” (the second part of this video). For a long time, Mrini struggled to say it. She called it the “Wombleground Underture” (interesting, that) and she knew that wasn’t quite right. Then at last, she managed “Underground Overture” and she was delighted at getting it right. “Mama,” she said happily, “I’m not very smart.” Tara had already mastered the phrase, so Mrini added by way of explanation, “Tara’s not very smart, I’m not very smart.” Tara seemed to take that as a compliment.

And they wondered why I was laughing.

I needed to laugh at something at that point – I’d just seen something terrible. There was a long traffic jam on the inner ring road and after crawling by for ages, we saw the cause. An Esteem-type car (unidentifiable now) had crashed into an electric light pole on the divider. The pole now stuck out across one lane of our side – well, more than one lane, but by then it was high enough so you could safely pass under it. Apparently it was still live and traffic was edging gingerly past the lower section. On the other side, the crashed car still lay. It was a burnt shell. There was nothing in it – just a blackened shell. The petrol tank must have caught fire. It was gruesome. It was the sort of thing you see on TV… but… it never bothered me to see this kind of thing on TV, whether on news or movies. It never seemed real. This, suddenly, was too real. Some poor sucker driving along makes one small mistake and poof! Roasted! Or, perhaps, electrocuted.

Ugh (shuddering). It could happen to anyone.

That’s a good reason not to drive when you’re tired. Or drunk (which, at any rate, I don’t do).

Anyhow, we had a birthday party yesterday. It totally was the sort of day which reminded me why I ever wanted to be a mother. It is so simple with little kids – you do whatever you can (and that might be a lot) to make them happy, and you never want anything back, except to know that what you did made them happy. How I worked to make it a memorable day! And it was! Well, at least for me it was.

I had most of the baking in hand by Monday evening. On Monday night Suchorita came and did the decorations for me and helped me to pack the cup cakes (thanks a lot!). Then I did some organizing, blew up lots of balloons, and brought the kids’ birthday gifts – bicycles – in from outside and re-inflated their tyres. Man, was I tired at the end of that!

But it was worth it, because the girls woke up and went with great delight straight to their cycles. And with the decorations in place, it felt like a party from the moment they got up. When party-time came, enormous fun was had with the balloons – kids playing and adults watching.

It was very funny to note that the girls have completely understood the concept that on birthdays, you get gifts. The concept of “thank you” is still some way off, though. One of the other kids had an interesting comment. Urged by her mother to hand over the gifts to Mrini and Tara, who had just got their gifts from somebody else, this girl says, “but they already have gifts.”

Of course the girls had zero success at blowing out the candles on their birthday cakes – which was ultimately done by yours truly (but only after Tara manage to spew out some spit in the vicinity). But after that all went well – the cakes were decently demolished, the chips were annihilated, while the samosas were roundly ignored.

And I stayed up till well past 11, watching the videos (thanks S&S!) – which was the greatest fun of all and well worth all the effort of making the party happen.

The Toilet Training Saga – Penultimate Chapter

August 8, 2008


I was quite dreading toilet training the twins way back in June when I hadn’t started but thought I should. I hadn’t a clue how to go about it and even more worrisome was the fact that every new article I read about it warned of timeframes stretching from 3 months to a year and beyond!

And now, looking back, I can’t believe it was so easy. One week they were refusing to use their little floor-level potties, the next week they were running for the high toilet seat as though they’d been doing that since forever. Altogether, it took less than six weeks to get to a state of relative stability and predictability. And the worst was over in two to three weeks.

Now it’s still ten days short of two months, and I’d say that the twins are pretty much “house trained”. Accidents are down to fewer than one in two days (between the two of them) and false alarms are about one or two per head per day, down from about 30. The total number of toilet calls has reduced, and they even go dry an hour or more at times. The last nut to crack was Tara’s potty, which tended to land everywhere but in the toilet, but she seems to have got a handle on that in the last few days.

I can’t believe how quickly it has all settled down. I still clearly recall the tension and stress of those first few days, when absolutely everything in the house was liable to be peed on (if not worse). It was really tough keeping any eye on both of them, running behind them when I thought they wanted to go, trying to coax them to use their little potties. Then there was the phase when they would run to the bathroom but go standing up in the shower stall, resulting in a trail of pee down their legs. Ugh.

But it all turned around so quickly and easily after I got them the toilet seat for the adult toilet. Even the significant dislocation of our ten-day trip to Delhi and Chandigarh, and the subsequent bout of diarrhoea did not make much of a dent in their desire or ability to use the toilet. All I can say is: Hallelujah!

A few challenges are left. Because they can’t hold on for very long, we still can’t risk taking them out without diapers. Also, they haven’t taken to wearing underwear yet – I hope they get that idea before they go to school, but right now it doesn’t worry me much. And finally, they still can’t go to the bathroom on their own – they need me for moral, emotional, physical, and logistical support. But, well… given how cooperative they’ve been in this whole process, I’m not complaining.

Toilet-Training the Twins: Two Steps Forward…

July 5, 2008

Wow. Things are certainly hotting up around here with the girls going all out to out-do each other and win the toilet-training contest. Their every success is rewarded with a few sips of Tropicana Premium unsweetened orange juice, which they love (good business for Tropicana, bet they never thought of this sales opportunity). It must be served to them at the dining table… in a glass glass, if you please. And they would rather not share the glass on the occasions when they both earn their rewards at the same time.

The good news is that Mrini has clearly realized that the bathroom is where you go to pee, and that peeing in the bathroom leads to an orange juice reward. What she still doesn’t get is the squatting bit, or the concept of the potty. So, every time she wants orange juice (which is many times), I get to do a lot of cleaning up. But. It’s progress – just yesterday, she was happy to mess anywhere in the house, now she actually says “potty” and makes a beeline for the bathroom!

Tara is equally keen on the orange juice reward, but, unlike Mrini, she can’t always produce on demand, so she’s had fewer successes. She’s very keen to learn, though – which is a good thing. It seems to be easier to train a child who wants to learn even if she doesn’t yet have the ability, than to work with one that has the ability but doesn’t yet want to use it.

Still, successes in the shower stall notwithstanding, two girls running around bare-bottomed is pretty much a full time occupation for me. There’s not a single task I can complete undisturbed during this time – at all times I have to be ready to drop whatever I’m doing – and I do mean WHATEVER – and rush one of the girls (or, worse, both) to the bathroom. The disruption to life as I knew it is immense – something I’m still trying to cope with. I suppose it’s a good deal of exercise, running around and mopping up behind them, not to mention doing quite a bit to dampen my appetite – it should be helping in Mission Weight Control. All the same, around early evening, when I’ve had enough for the day, I take the easy way out and put the diapers back on. There’s only so much I can do, after all, without completely losing my sanity. And tomorrow, as they say, is another day.

Toilet-Training The Twins: Trying, Trying

July 4, 2008

As far as toilet training the twins is concerned, I still don’t know whether I’m coming or going. Pondicherry was a welcome break for all of us, but now that we’re back home, we’re back to the pee and poo mess too, I’m afraid. I’m trying very hard to be patient and gentle and not put any pressure on them, just like all the books and websites say, but I have to admit that at times it’s pretty much impossible. It’s a little easier now that the depression has passed and I’m back to a (somewhat delicate) stable state; it’s also easier with only one of them – currently Mrini – going diaperless at a time; but it’s still difficult not to lose it and force the girl to sit on the pot when you can clearly see that she’s desperate to go but she’s just running around in circles like a chicken with it’s head cut off (or so they say – I’ve never personally never seen one). Mrini seems to have completely taken against the pot and will not sit on it at any cost. Her current favourite place to let loose is the shower stall, which is ok with me, being generally easy to clean, or the bathmat, which is less nice. Apart from those, she’s not picky about anywhere in the rest of the house, though she has so far spared her high chair and our bed (but not her own).

Tara, as long as she was diaperless before the Pondy trip, seemed to have less bladder-control and therefore provided more mess for me to clean up. Right now, she seems really eager to use the pot, so I probably should provide her the opportunity by leaving her bare-bottomed for a few days, while I allow Mrini the luxury of diapers again. But then again, Mrini seems to be developing a level of confidence with the shower stall, so maybe I should just persist with her.

Or maybe I should bare both bottoms? Horrors…

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