Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up. ~Thomas Wolfe
The subject of potty training has been popping up around me. Every time I hear stories from others, it brings a smile to my face, for that was the one parenting act I did right from the beginning, no trial and error needed. I potty trained Kyle in a single night. Of course, Kyle should have some credit too. When I think of potty training, to me it was as easy as peeling a sticker and giving a hash mark.
Yes, way back in the day, I potty trained our little rug rat. Kyle was a few months from being two, I believe. Personally, I was ready to rid us all of the diapers a year prior, but I know it takes time. Did I mention I’m not the most patient? Yes, literally I had an idea on how to potty train this smart little man and one day I just decided to do it. Deep down I know Kyle was definitely ready to graduate to the little potty, or least I convinced myself he was.
I didn’t mind changing Kyle’s dirty diapers as a baby, not at all. It became so secondary to me, I managed to go through this stage of his life without wearing his waste, not once! I was quick, yet I didn’t sacrifice cleanliness for speed. I always made sure that child’s bottom was sparkling so he could feel good and keep the diaper rash at bay. He did manage to suffer with small bouts of diaper rash at times, but it wasn’t because I made a real effort. It broke my heart to bear witness to my little package in pain. In fact, I would check him more frequently and change him regularly to avoid what could be avoided.
So back to the potty training. How did I do it? I’ve heard of horror stories about kids rebelling and so on and so forth. No for me. All I did was use Kyle’s weakness against him, or however you want to look at it. What was Kyle’s kyrptonite? Stickers! Yes, those colorful pieces of paper with an adhesive on the back, that comes in all shapes, sizes and themes. Stickers!
Seriously? That’s all it took were some stickers? Well, no, not exactly, but that’s the bulk of it. First you have to understand that Kyle always loved stickers. Always! I started him on his sticker interest when he was a little tyke. Unbeknownst to me at the time, they were going to be my biggest ally.
Why stickers? Why not. I, myself was a fan of stickers as a young girl, and I guess I wanted to bring a little of my childhood and interest to Kyle for him to enjoy. As a youngster, I remember having books upon books full of stickers. Back then I didn’t have actual books that housed stickers, nope I used the peel away photo albums to store my precious treasures with their waxy paper backing still in tacked so I could trade or reorganize them again. My favorites were the ones that smelled. Scratch and sniff stickers! I was also a fan of the textured stickers with fuzz or fur. Exciting.
Over the years of Kyle’s early days, we would buy him sticker books. The new trendy books whereas Kyle would have to match up the sticker with someplace specific in the book and permanently stick the sticker. My little man would spend hours stickering up those books and then take the time to review his efforts. He really enjoyed this activity. Funny enough, later on this would be a favorite activity while he was using the toilet.
Kyle’s interest was mostly animals off all sorts and his staples, Star Wars and Lego theme sticker books, sometimes a combination of both. Admittedly, I would sit for hours with Kyle and help him sticker up his books. He enjoyed the attention and I loved hanging with my little man, and we both adored the activity.
How did Kyle become so interested in stickers? Again that was my doing. Let me step back in time a little further to the beginning of Kyle’s love of stickers. In fact, I can almost pin point the exact moment. I shouldn’t say this out loud, you know in case someone was able to go back in time and wanted to alter the course of Kyle’s history. (Back to the Future reference)
As a thirteen year old, Kyle could careless about those sticky pieces of fun, but times were different. When Kyle was a baby of about eight months, maybe younger, I showed him a new way to wear stickers. Granted, he had no choice in the matter, but I found it hilarious. At my cousin Chad’s wedding, I placed a sticker to Kyle’s forehead. Being a baby, the only responsibility he had was to eat, fill his diaper, sleep and repeat. So the mischievously placed sticker wasn’t even a thought to him. For some bizarre reason, I found that extremely funny. My sister yelled at me and told me to stop picking on the baby, but she too laughed. It really was funny watching the kid look around without the knowledge of a sticker planted directly in the middle of his forehead. Then it got even better.
Soon he realized there was something on his forehead and he began to go crossed eyed trying to focus on it. If my memory serves me correctly, this was a short amount of time after Chad’s wedding. He used to look up, his eyes would cross and he tried to reach in the air to get a hold of the object stuck to his forehead. I know mean, but pure entertainment!
Eventually, the ornery action on my part, became a standard embellishment for Kyle. He would place stickers to his cheeks, arms and legs and leave them there. The entire sticker situation back fired when it became a fight to remove the unnecessary body art. This usually happened when Kyle portrayed the sticker as too sticky and he was afraid to rip it off, or it was bath time and he simply didn’t want them to fall off. He would rather omit the bath to keep the stickers stuck. I guess I totally deserved that for tormenting Kyle. One well worth it.
Stickers became the hot commodity in our household, so much so, I decided to use them as a reward system. Knowing Kyle was the type that thrived on positive reinforcement, unlike me. So I came up with a game plan for potty training.
At the time, I don’t believe Kyle gave any indication that he was ready to potty train, but I knew I was ready for that next step. Informing mom, she agreed and helped me to set the stage for victory. Yes, I didn’t just say, go us the potty and the child listened. Nope, I was good but not that good. Preparations needed to me made to ensure the potential battle was weak and over with before it began.
Before I was ready to change Kyle’s world, we all went shopping, including Kyle. We let him pick out whatever underroos he wanted, all the while building up the excitement about being potty trained. In addition to the new garments, I made Kyle a bathroom chart, simply marking “Pee” and “Poop”. The deal was, every time he used the potty, either his little boy potty or asked to use the big potty, he would get a hash mark on his chart and a sticker. Each “pee” was worth one and every “poop” was worth two. I hung his chart on the closet door in the bathroom at his eye level so he could see his own progress. I hid all the stickers on the fireplace mantle, knowing he would dive into those if left unsupervised. I did show him the gold mine I tucked away up there out of his reach, or so I thought.
I remember distinctly, it was a Friday, I picked Kyle up the day prior, knowing the gig was going down before the weekend. I explained about the deal and he was all in! How exciting! I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect and I knew it was my responsibility to work with the kid to give him a change, but it was a good sign to hear he was all in. Maybe he was ready.
On Friday, I explained about letting me know when he needed to use the restroom. I even alleviated potential embarrassment by telling him it’s ok if he had an accident, just let me know. I had Kyle pick out his new underwear and he wore them immediately, all day and into the evening. During this time, I constantly asked Kyle if he had to go to the bathroom and sometimes I had him try anyway. Naturally, no matter what, he would give a little tinkle and request a hash mark and a sticker. Done! I was cracking up, it almost became fun for me too!
Kyle was so very good. By bedtime, he went the day without a single accident. Did I revert back to a diaper for the night hours? Nope. If I was going to commit, I was going to commit all the way. It would have been an injustice to confuse the kid with alternating between underwear and diaper. Nope, I told him he was a big boy now and he only used the toilet, either his or the household one. In fact, shortly after this, we gave all his extra diapers away. Again, proving we had faith in him and we too were committed. I did have to wipe his back side when needed, a team effort only Kyle relished in.
The next day mom and I had to drive to Pittsburgh, about an hour away. Did I bring diapers just in case? Nope! I did bring a lot of extra underroos and other supplies including the chart and a bunch of stickers. I also did manage to sneak an extra blanket under his bottom in the car seat, just in case of a mishap, but none ever came.
Granted, we still did the reminding of using the restroom and encouraging all along the way. Yep, ever since that night, Kyle was one hundred percent potty trained, no diapers ever made their way back to our house. Believe it or not, Kyle never had an accident either, with the exception of being sick, but that doesn’t count.
Kyle reinforced his own potty chart, demanding a hash mark for doing his business and then the reward of a sticker. Eventually, when he was able to use the household toilet on his own, his interest in the chart and the stickers lessened over time. But I certainly, didn’t rush that, for that was his decision and he earned it.
On a side note, the day we were in Pittsburgh, my dad was in the hospital. There were a few years after Ryan’s death, dad was pretty sick almost joining Ryan a couple of times. By the time we got to see dad, Kyle, now wearing his big boy pants gave us all a surprise. He saw his beloved pappy and pulled up his sleeve (those were the days when he would wear long sleeves) to reveal a bunch of stickers stuck to his arm. He peeled one off and handed it to my dad. First, I was in shock there were stickers on his arm that I didn’t know about, and then I was laughing. It was a nice gesture, giving away his prize possessions. Soon I began to wonder where he got all those stickers? I rolled up the other sleeve and low and behold, more stickers! What the heck? Then, Kyle really blew me away. He lifted up his shirt to reveal a stomach postered with STICKERS! Wall to wall stickers!
Upon closer inspection, I recognized the sticky art. They were the ones I just bought for Kyle’s potty training exercise! They WERE on the mantle. How did that kid get a hold of them? When asked, Kyle just shot me an ornery grin and then gazed upon his pap who gave him a thumbs up. Those two were always in cahoots. Apparently, Kyle decided he wanted an advance on his bathroom chart. It was then that I realized I needed to hide the stickers.
Kyle was always a stinker, pun intended, but no matter what, he’s always been a great kid, always full of pleasant surprises!