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Potty trained before preschool

Send help!

In May, my recently-turned-three-year-old and I went to check out the magical world of Mrs. Marsha, neighborhood preschool teacher. She greeted us with hugs and took my boy’s hand to show him all of the wonders of her classroom. A play area, a song area, pictures and colors and books. Teddy was absolutely dying with excitement by the end of our tour.

“There is one thing though Teddy,” Mrs. Marsha said. “Between now and August, you have to learn how to go potty on the toilet or you cannot come to school.”

Jumping up and down, Teddy squealed that he would love to go potty on the toilet. Me though, I knew better. I knew what Teddy did not – that things were about to get real. Real gross.

As July fell upon us, I knew it was time. I ordered a little whale potty and gave the whole idea a few timid tries. Much to my surprise, my 20-month-old, Mara, was much more interested in the ordeal. Anytime I mentioned the potty she would come running, tearing off her diaper, vying for first turn on the potty. Teddy, though happy to try out the whale initially, quickly grew bored and told me that he likes pooping in diapers.

Seeing the dynamic of the two siblings, it seemed perfectly rational, at the time, to potty train both kids together.

So, I got to work pouring over potty training blog posts and handpicked the ideas that seemed like they would be the most successful with my crowd. My own approach began to take shape. I decided that I would get the kids naked, corral them into the backyard, fill them up with lots of fluid, give them fun things to do on the toilet and they would be good to go in 24 hours – 72 hours max.

Easy peezy.

I cleared my schedule for the next week. I bought a cart full of drinks, treats, games and sunblock. It was time to do this.

On Monday morning I got up singing a chant and punching the air, “Potty time! Potty time! Potty time!”

I was bringing the hype.

I herded the two confused toddlers to the back yard and told them the game plan – they were getting naked and couldn’t come back in the house until all of their poop and pee went into the potty.

They stripped down and off we went.

Day one started off with a bang – as in, a giant poop in the bushes. Mara stealthily squat down, did her business and then walked through it, creating a trail of poopy footprints across the cement. Teddy, totally grossed out by his sister, dry heaved as I uncoiled the hose.

Off to a rocky start, we pressed on.

We drew flowers and cars and people on the ground with chalk as we drank up a case of juice boxes. They sat on their potties and we read books, sang songs and watched movies on my laptop. We cheered over any drip (or possible drip) that went into the tiny toilet bowls. I passed out suckers and we all agreed that going potty was awesome.

By mid afternoon it was hot. No longer enchanted with Kool-Aid, the two started begging me to go in the house.

Nope, I told them, we are staying out here until you can put all of your pee and poop in the potty.

So on we went, drinking ice water and turning on the sprinklers. Teddy rode his bike around the yard and Mara splashed in the water table.

At one point, when I was cleaning up a Mara accident, Teddy ran up on the deck and peed a big dripping puddle. I tried to shoo him to the toilet but it was too late. While I was trying to shoo Teddy to the toilet, Mara walked up on the deck and made her own puddle. And on and on it went.

When it was finally bedtime, we were averaging about one success for every three fails, despite the hours those two little bums were sitting on a toilet.

A little disheartened, I went to bed that night giving myself a pep talk. Kids don’t learn to use the bathroom in one day, I told myself, this is totally normal, just be patient.

Day two though, the little gremlins were wise to my plan and were having none of it.

Every time I put Mara on the potty, she screamed. She kicked and yelled, “No!” and threw her potty treats at me.

Teddy was happy sitting on the potty. He would, however, hold his pee and four seconds after he would stand up, telling me he didn’t have to go, he would release. He started to learn the art of aiming and found new ways to be naughty.

Day two, three and four passed in much the same vain. It is all a blur to me. The success rate actually got worse. They peed on my flowers, they pooped on the big wheels. They ate up all the suckers and used up all the sidewalk chalk. They listened to all the music, read all of the potty books and still, despite my undivided attention and quick response to cues, showed no sign that they could ever leave the backyard.

On day five, Mara stayed in her diaper. It was time to change tactics. I zero’d in on Mr. Preschool.

I’m going to make a long story short now. It has been two weeks and Teddy is showing about a 5% chance of being potty trained by preschool.

I gave Mrs. Marsha a call. She said to keep at it.

So, we are keeping at it. We’ve tried to move to underwear, you know, so we could leave the house. I made the executive decision to cut off and throw out any pair of undies that were pooped in. We are out of underwear.

I haul the whale potty with us wherever we go. I am trying to hold on to hope as the promise of three Teddy free hours, twice a week, is fading.

Alright alright, if I’m being totally honest with you, Teddy has worn pull-ups the last two days. He has pooped and peed on the potty zero times in the last 48 hours. I might have given up.

Please send help.

Written by Betsy Ryan


Betsy Ryan resides in Watford City and is a recent transplant to Western North Dakota. She is learning to navigate her new landscape along with her husband and their two boys. Betsy writes for the McKenzie County Farmer and also shares her experiences in North Dakota on her blog,

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