World War Pee

If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago for a clean, dry place to sit at my house, I probably would’ve recommended one of my kids’ potty chairs.  Those were pretty much the only places that hadn’t been peed and pooped on.

Mercifully, since I last wrote about my struggle to domesticate my 3-year-olds, Drew and I have made a bit of progress.  And yes, the credit goes to us, the grownups, because we’re the only ones here who seem the least bit disturbed that, thanks to what we generously term “accidents”, our entire house has basically become one giant toilet.  My current plan is, when this is all over, we blow the place up and start over — you know, kind of like in that Little House on the Prairie TV movie, the one where they blow the town up and start over.

We really didn’t have a choice but to end our cease-fire with the kids and kick the training back into high gear.  It turns out their preschool teacher wasn’t joking about wanting her students to be underpant-ready.  We’re not even allowed to send them to school in diapers.  The teacher will clean up accidents and put the kids in clean clothes — as long as they happen in underpants.  If your kid’s in diapers, he’s on his own.

When I heard this, it sounded to me like someone else was offering to train the kids for us.  Awesome.  When Drew heard it, he thought we’d failed as parents.

The first day I picked the kids up, the teacher told me that they hadn’t had any accidents.  They both obediently sat on the tiny toilets when the teacher asked them to.  Bennett even peed.  It was hard not to feel like we were being snookered.  Why wouldn’t they do that for us?

I was almost relieved on Day 2, when Sutton had what the teacher called “a tiny accident”.  I just wanted this professional educator to feel my pain.

Like a lot of people have suggested, seeing the other kids use the bathroom really inspired them.  No one ever talks about the bright side of peer pressure.  When the subject comes up, it’s always about jumping off bridges.  Well, from now on, peer pressure, we cool.

School was helping, sure, but the kids are only there for three hours at a time, three days a week.  The rest of their lives, I’m the one cleaning up after them.  Whatever the teacher and the other kids were doing to my children, it was my job to keep it up when they were with me.

I wasn’t going to settle for a quick-fix solution, and I sure as hell wasn’t going back to that insane 3-day method from the internet.  Instead, I decided to do something even crazier: trust my instincts.

There would be no more running through the house to get a kid in mid-pee to the bathroom.  I was tired of cleaning up messes that stretched down the entire hallway.  Instead, if someone had an accident, I would instruct them to stay totally still, so their mess would collect in one giant, easy-to-clean puddle.

Is it a bit awkward for them to stand still in their own urine while Daddy then runs and gets them a pair of clean underpants?  You know what?  That’s not my problem.

I was also done with that “Don’t pressure them, they’ll go when they’re ready” nonsense.  If you haven’t peed in two hours, I’m sitting your butt on the potty until you’ve got something to flush down the toilet.  If you’re dancing around trying to hold your bladder, I’m not waiting for it to explode while you insist over and over that you don’t have to go.  I know a ticking time bomb when I see one.  Onto the potty with you!

I also decided that I was tired of staying home all the time.  Sure, I’m still nervous my kids will have accidents in public, but why should I be punished when I know perfectly well how to use a bathroom like any higher primate should?  And why should my kid be locked up for an accident that hasn’t yet occurred?  What is this?  Minority Report?

Screw it.  When we want to go out, we go out.  I don’t sit them on potties in restaurants like that nutjob we’ve all read about.  Instead, I try to take them to places where it’s OK to let a few pints of urine drip down your leg, should it come to that.  Public parks, for example, and… um, well, maybe just public parks.

I even bought some portable potties for my minivan — a blue one and a pink one, of course.  We folded down the third row of car seats and basically turned the trunk space into an outhouse.  It was a welcome safety net, although one that encouraged the kids to pee in my car.  Great, another behavior I can look forward to correcting someday.

We’re on week three of World War Pee, and while there hasn’t been an official surrender yet, the opposition forces are definitely weakening.  They rarely complain about going to the bathroom anymore.  Sometimes they’ll refuse to go, but that’s usually because they don’t actually have to go.  When they do have full bladders, they’ll sit down and get it over with, and then I’ll knock the roof off our house with my over-the-top pride squeals.


Sadly, though, even a victory in World War Pee will only mean an end to conflict #1.  There’s still #2 to deal with.

That’s right.  Even as they get more comfortable with peeing, they still refuse to do #2 in the potty.  They’ll just hold it in for hours, until they finally explode in their underpants and all over the floor.

For now, we let them put on a diaper just on those occasions.  It’s better than cleaning up that kind of mess or letting my kids’ colons swell up like overstuffed sausages.

We’re going to wait until the peeing thing is under control before tackling the next phase.  Then, an even bigger battle looms:

World War Poo.


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Oh, and those adorable cartoons are from Leslie Patricelli’s book Potty, which is the Infinite Jest of toilet training books.  Five stars.

22 comments on “World War Pee

  1. Well done to you both. Although I find the pre school a little harsh on non toilet trained kids. It is their responsibility for the kids regardless of how far trained they are. And I love this part of peer pressure, there’s nothing wanting to sleep over or go to school and be NOT in nappies. Don’t forget after work war poo is world war nappy less nights.. Keep up the good work. And whatever’s said before, trusting your instincts is the best way to parent. 🙂

    • I was under the impression that its a “liability” issue for the school, so they try to cut down on situations where the teacher is handling any bathroom-related issues.

    • Thanks, Jen! I actually don’t fault the preschool for that. I think it’s their way of helping the kids along, actually. As long as the teachers are willing to clean up the mess, I’m happy to send my less-than-fully-trained kids there in underpants.

      I’m not looking forward to World War Nappy-Less Nights. That’s the last one, though, right? 🙂

  2. Hold in there, we are fighting too… although my daughter just got to the phase, when she is able to go to potty when naked, but when dressed up, she probably thinks it is the diapers and it does not work. With summer gone and her running naked around the flat, she got a bladder infection, so we got back to the starting point again…

  3. As always a laugh. We carried a potty in the car for longer car rides but as we didn’t have a van, we’d pull over and plunk it down beside the car on the side of the road. Our daughter, the camel, never once used the traveller, but our son was a frequent roadside pee monster. He preferred it to restrooms. On a recent car trip to Boston (11 hours) we took many pee breaks. He fortunately has outgrown the roadside fixation, which at 22 years old is a good thing :). Your kids will outgrow it all. And then they will get on airplanes and move across the country….sigh.

  4. “World War Poo”….Love it!!
    Just remember this is the age where their potty mechanics are the only thing they are able to have control over (you)…this age is a break out stage of independence. i.e. dressing themselves, feeding themselves, and basically tired of parents poo-poo-ing their every move….

    I had a portable child potty seat cover that would fold up & fit into my invention since sliced bread…

    • Well, they’re definitely controlling their potty power, but I’m not sure that’s the *only* thing they have control over me about. I try to convince myself it’s a good sign that they’re so stubborn and persuasive. Maybe they’ll end up being super savvy business people, get rich and buy their dads a nice house someday. That’s what I tell myself when they’re screaming, “No, I WON’T poop in the potty! Ha ha!” at least.

  5. Ok, so you might think this is gross and mean, but a little more incentive for them to get trained might be them cleaning up their own mess. A few times of that and they might realize the potty is better. If they can get through hours at pre-k without an accident (at least most of the time), they can do it all the time.

    • I don’t think it’s gross or mean. If I don’t have to clean up the mess, it’s sanitary and a big relief (for me, at least). The problem is I can’t trust them to clean up their messes satisfactorily. They would dab a paper towel at it and go, “I’m done!”, then let the towel drip all through the house. I have a hard enough time keeping them from playing in the pee and poop while I run to get the Windex. Just keeping the mess from spreading is a victory, in my mind.

  6. This makes me wonder what on earth I did to have it so good potty training my first two boys and terrified of what may come with boy #3. Will he make up for the ease of training of the first two?
    My second son was SO easy. We were at the store and saw some elmo underwear and he said he wanted them. I said, “I’m not buying those for you yet, you’ll pee in them.” and he said “No i won’t.” And he didn’t. No pull-ups, no major accidents – EVER. He was about 2 months away from 3 and that was that.
    I used pull-ups with the older boy and those things are terrible, they just teach them that it’s ok to pee in underwear. Still, I read stuff like this and realize I had it SO good.
    Thank you for your blog. I love reading it. I love the writing style. I LOVE the reminder that kids aren’t all perfect all the time, sometimes things are beyond our control, no matter how awesome we are at parenting, sometimes we feel like we are missing something important that everyone else “gets.”

    • Thank you so much for this comment, Lisa. Even though I am inclined to be furious at you for having it so easy, the nice things you said more than make up for my jealousy over your good fortune.

      I’ll have to be grateful that my kids were amazing in other ways — they’re great sleepers, for example — and accept that I was overdue for a challenge of this magnitude.

  7. Well done!! But World War Poo is an entirely new kettle of fish… my three year old still has issues – she doesn’t like pooping, she doesn’t want to, she holds it in for as long as she possibly can! Fortunately we generally manage to get the final product in the toilet, but not before a few pairs of smeared underpants first. Gross. I wish you the best of luck with it!!

    • My daughter was pooping in her underpants before, and I begged her to go to the potty. She screamed. I offered to put a diaper on her. She screamed. I decided to let her poop her pants.

      Then, a minute later, she went to the potty, but just to pee. While she was pantsless, I quietly slipped a diaper on her — sneaky dad! A few minutes later, she yelled out from the other room, “I pooped!” I was so proud that my plan worked. She pooped in a diaper, not in underpants! Then, I went and found her and saw that she had pulled the diaper off, spilling her poop out on the carpet. Grr!!! World War Poo is truly the Great War!

  8. I enjoy reading your blog, it’s helping me get through the potty training stages with my daughter. I will sit her on the potty for thirty minutes and not a drop. Put a new diaper on her and she immediately goes pee. 😦 It can be challenging for the parent sometimes too.

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