My toddler started going potty on his own recently. I was not prepared at all, minus having a potty that one grandma gave us. He was giving me a big hint one day that he was ready so I held his hand and took him to the potty. And that simply he went and he seemed pretty proud of himself. The rest of day he went on his own. He went the next day too. Then I thought to myself, I better get a book, you know to make sure I’m doing this right. I started reading it frantically, implementing things I read. I sent videos and article after article to my partner. We became obsessive on how to do this just right. Were we over prompting? Not prompting enough? Wait was that a cue? Why is he doing this or doing that? I have been looking at forums on potty training every day. All the while my 19 month old had things pretty figured out considering his age.
Now instead of gently taking him when I thought he was ready, I watched him like a hawk and carried him to the potty and stared at him waiting for him to produce a potty. I disempowered him by carrying him. I didn’t trust he would walk there on his own. I didn’t want him to make a mistake. But why couldn’t I just allow for even a young child, barely a toddler to make a "mistake"? As the days went on he stopped going on his own. He began hiding and having only accidents. We all became frustrated. I cried. He cried. Today as I write this he was obviously holding it and for an uncomfortably long time. He told me "no going potty" Why was I doing this to him and why am I telling you about it?
Well something about me creeped up again. This perfectionist beast that I’ve been working hard to shake is being projected onto my son. When I realized this I was filled with shame. I try not to let shame sit around too long, so I am writing this. When I stopped trusting him I drowned out his intuition and mine. He was happily going as long as it was fun for him and his choice, but in an effort to do things the right way, I took the ease out of it.
As kids we do things because we are curious and because they are fun. It’s all learning though and very important. Learning is approached with ease, allowing room for mistakes. Mistakes aren’t even on the radar. We have an option in life and as we learn. We can trust ourselves and walk, maybe holding someone’s hand to help us along the way, but mostly going the direction we want to go. We can do that or we can get carried giving up our power not trusting ourselves to get there when we get there. And eventually we stop producing. Maybe out of rebellion, but usually out of fear.
How often do we do this? We know how to do something. We know something we want to do. We just know. We then try to match it to outside knowledge to make sure we aren't wrong. We may even compare ourselves to make sure we aren’t too out of line. I had never heard the stories of potty training done with ease. I had only heard that it is difficult. I expected difficulty so when it started off being so easy, it didn’t compare to what I had heard. I panicked.
It doesn’t have to be hard though.
It’s ok if some things are easy. It’s ok to take longer with things that aren’t or to just not do them at all. How often do we make things harder than it needs to be? I know I do it a hell of a lot. If it’s not hard, is it then not worth it? When will we let go of this puritanical need for a badge of honor only earned by hard gruesome work?
Well we are taking a break from training. We are just letting him choose if he wants to try again. It’d be a fun experiment to see if he can find joy in going “doo doo” again. I fell into an old pattern and I recognize it. My poor son had to deal with it, but when we do fall down we wake up the next day and start over with ease. It’s ok to find ease amongst the doo doo of life. It really is.