I, Naked

I’m not a big fan of Pull-Ups, mainly because they are expensive and, if you’re trying to train a child to use the toilet, wearing a diaper is counter-productive. However, if you’re not trying to train a child to use the toilet but she refuses to wear diapers, the cost of Pull-Ups might be worth it to avoid puddles on the floor if those pretty little princesses on the front convince her to stay covered.

My life right now is a little messy. “Mary, put on your diaper,” I’ll demand. “No, I, Naked,” she’ll respond. Well, hello, Naked.

The fact is, it is time to bite the bullet and train her. I really don’t like potty-training.

I am amused by all the resources available to help a parent decide if the child is ready to be potty-trained. We don’t wonder if it’s time to teach a child how to use a fork or spoon. We don’t ask all our friends if our child is old enough to be quiet in church. We don’t look for signs to indicate that our child is ready to use words like “please” and “thank you.” We just do it. Raising children is a process, not an event.

Experience with my kids has taught me one thing about toilet training: it is not so much the child who needs to be ready…it is the parent. Many people criticize the EC crowd by saying, “The child isn’t trained, it’s the parent who is trained.” Perhaps. I’m not jumping on the EC bandwagon, but I would like to point out that these parents are not changing diapers, right? As I find out just how quickly I can dash from the dining room table to the bathroom with a naked toddler in my arms, I fail to see how the training process isn’t parent conditioning as well, no matter the age you begin.

It would be nice if kids trained themselves. My daughter, Katie, did when she was just 2. It was great. Most kids eventually will. You might have to wait 5 or 6 years for that, though. And honestly, if diapers were socially acceptable, I think my older boys would prefer them to actually having to stop playing baseball or riding their bikes or chasing bad guys. Girls at some point prefer cleanliness. Boys, at least mine, prefer convenience.

Sometimes moms prefer convenience, too. That’s where I find myself right now. Toilet training is work, and I just don’t want more work at the moment. Or so I think. This toddler who presents me with stinky diaper in hand is surely not making my life easy. So I have put together a quiz to help myself and other moms decide if now is the time to begin training. Give yourself one point for every “yes” and a half point for every half yes.

1. Are you tired of changing diapers?

2. If you use primarily disposable diapers, are you eager add $100 a month or so to another line item in your budget? If you use primarily cloth diapers, would you like to have more hours in the week to do something other than laundry?

3. Is your child refusing to wear diapers (or screaming in agony if you force the issue)?

4. Do you have the patience of a mule? If no, can you fake it?

5. Do you have absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to go for the next week or two? If no, do you have room in your vehicle for a kid potty and five extra outfits?

6. Do you think bribing rewarding your child with candy is a good way to get results?

7. Is partial or complete nudity of the trainee socially acceptable to all members of your household? If no, do you mind doing an extra load of wet and soiled clothes every day for the next week or two or three?

8. Do you have only tile and/or wood floors in your home? If no, do you own a steam cleaner? If no, is the outdoor temperature above 70 degrees? If no, do you have the patience of a mule without faking it as well as a supply of rug cleaner?

9. Can you run 20 feet in 10 seconds at the first indication of a need to “go”?

10. Are you prepared to observe closely and to drop everything the instant you hear a whispered “potty”, see a child grab the crotch area, or notice that particular look on a child’s face?

11. Do you know the location of every public bathroom for every single store or outdoor venue you plan to attend in the next few weeks?

12. Do you own a large supply of worn towels or rags?


Less than 4 points: If you have children, they are still infants. Please realize that kids are messy. You need to budget for a steam cleaner and save those burp cloths for many future spills.

4 – 8 points: You like the idea of having trained children, but aren’t ready to deal with the mess and inconvenience. Inevitably, you and your child will have to do this, but now is not yet the time. Work on patience, stock up on cleaning supplies and start noticing where the public toilets are.

More than 8 points: You are physically and mentally prepared to dive into potty training. It’s not going to just “happen” miraculously, so get to it already!

I scored a 10, so I think I know what I’ll be doing for the next few weeks.

7 thoughts on “I, Naked

  1. My oldest (now 19) was partially trained (or maybe I was) by 11 months and totally trained by 23 months. Each successive child has taken a couple of months longer, and the first 4 were girls…the first boy was closer to 3 when he got trained. I've mellowed out and become busier (less time to spend watching kid) so the last one took about 2.5 years. I was going to train number 9 this Easter break, but come to think of it, that was also the week we were going to take advantage of our New York Zoological Society membership and see all the zoos in the system before the pass runs out in July….maybe not the best time to do potty training, unless I leave one of the older non-zooish girls home to keep track of this…..

  2. I'm with the boys for the convenience factor. There have been times at bars or sporting events when I wondered just how uncomfortable Depends could be. I never had the stones to actually go and buy them though. Yeah, I know I'm disgusting. 🙂

  3. I like the idea of waiting to potty train until you have a new diaper wearer to replace the old one, thus negating both the budget advantages and disadvantages. 🙂

  4. Oh. Yes. I just finished training my 3 1/2 year old boy. He was actually too smart to be trained. We started taking things away, and he could list them back to us, counting on his fingers, rather like a 21 year old. He eventually figured out that we weren't going to cave, and gave in.

  5. This is by far the most accurate and honest “potty training readiness guide” I've ever seen. My 2 1/2 year old might be ready for potty training, but his mommy is not. I've come to accept that I will have at least two kids in diapers for quite a while, but better that then the alternative of one kid in a diaper and one kid who goes through clean underpants at a frightening rate.

  6. I read this one article on “Training Your Child in One Day”. I thought it might be nice, if it worked. I might try that for Tommy, but it will probably have to wait until he's “ready”. That's judged by if they can hook their little fingers around their pants to pull them up all by themselves. Huh. Might have to wait until he's 4 or so. Oh, my friend had the awesome idea of paying her oldest daughter 100 dollars if she could get her little brother trained! I'm TOTALLY considering that one for Matthew (to train Tommy…Matthew's got it all squared away now that he's twelve).

  7. Laura, I think having Matthew do it is a great idea.

    Amanda, thanks. My girlfiend's son is a few months older than Mary, but I advised her to not even try until summer. Her husband is deployed, they have lots of trips coming up, and he is not refusing to wear a diaper. Why add to the stress? I had 3 kids in diapers when my 3rd kid was born: my oldest was only 39 months old. I would line them up assembly line fashion. Back then, I could not even fake patience.

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