I don’t think my mother lost a wink of sleep over my getting it right, nearly seven decades ago. In a joint family set-up, where we had cousins and nephews growing up together, it was a peer group thing, done at the backyard of our farm house. We took it as extension of playtime activity, and took our own time doing it, till one of the woman in the household found time to pull us out to give us all a wash. Diaper culture was then unknown in my native Pollachi, Tamilnadu.
In my son’s case my wife did not see it as a big deal either, though he didn’t have the benefit of a peer group to learn from. Left largely to fend for himself, with a little help from friendly neighbours, our son picked it up through trial and error. Parental guidance was minimal; and mom intervened, with a threat or spanking, occasionally, only when she found you in soiled shorts.
As our son grew up to be a teenager we moved to Chennai; and our second-floor apartment in Egmore had a view of Don Bosco’s kindergarten section. And we were used to the sight of pre-school kids with soiled behinds, waiting for the ayah to clean them up.
Now his son Siddarth goes to play-school at San Ramon, CA; and he has had parents worried over his apparent reluctance, nay, refusal, to give up diapers. This can be embarrassing, particularly if most others in his play-school were potty-trained. Siddarth is two plus, talkative, and even daring in a childlike way.
What cramped his style was the suggestion that it was time he switched diapers for ‘Spiderman’ underwear. He would have nothing of it; and after much cajoling and coercion Siddarth relented, insofar as he agreed to swap diapers for more fashionable underwear. Doing without diapers was one thing, but doing it without diaper was quite another can of beans. And, here was the sticking point. Siddarth would rather hold it, rather than do it in anything other than a diaper. Using potty was simply no, no.
Getting Siddarth out of his potty-block called for some collective thinking in the family; and a plan of action was drawn up for the Memorial Day weekend in May-end. Everyone in the house – mom, dad and the grandparents – cancelled all other plans to join the ‘SpotForce’ (Siddarth potty-training task force).
During the three-day weekend Siddarth was put off-diapers; and we took turns to watch for signs in his facial expression or body language so that he could be rushed to a potty, strategically placed in the house – one in the hallway and the other, in his upstairs bed-room. At the slightest hint of anything happening we gathered around the potty with expectations, like cheering fans on the stands, watching a goal-mouth tackle in a game of hockey.
Amid several such false alarms that had us rushing to the potty during the much of the long weekend, the breakthrough came, late Saturday evening. Irony was that when Siddarth took his first shot at breaking the potty-barrier none of us, other than his dad, was there to witness the event. He got his favorite toy car as a reward. In accordance with the plan, with every successful strike at the potty Siddarth got a gift from a special basket of toys. And by the end of the Memorial Day the basket was nearly empty; and mom Meera was proud of having her Mission Accomplished.
Related post – Who’s turn is it to change diapers.