An unexpected perk of having my children 20 months apart was recently my 4-year-old, taught my 2-year-old how to use the potty. In fact, they both taught each other something new. Let me start from the beginning.
I fully intended, in my life before kids, that I would be a research-based parent. I’d join support groups, read self-help books with titles like “Harmonizing with your Child through Love and Understanding”. I’d pull lessons from Free Range Parenting, Helicopter, and whatever magical pressure/love combo that turns so many Asian children into concert violinists and mathematicians. Turns out I’m so busy being a parent every minute of every day that I don’t have the energy to research theories on child-rearing. I simply show them love and teach compassion and cross my fingers that no body asks me to fly to Mexico for a Spring Break wedding on their high school Senior trip.
Several months ago, I tried 2 days of undies-only for Maddie, and during that time she demonstrated her non-readiness by upping my laundry loads by 200%. That was my one-and-only-potty-training move I used with Charlotte—so I decided to turn to my 4-year-old for guidance. During the next few weeks my girls became fascinating by the bathroom.
What are you doing in there, Mom? Are you pooping? Can I see? Can I sit on your lap?
Sigh. I look forward to the day where I can instill a closed-door bathroom policy, with assurance that my kids won’t use that time to baby powder the dogs.
On the plus side, Maddie was gaining interest and so I capitalized on this by overly rewarding and praising Charlotte. Charlotte at this point still struggled to consistently go #2 in the potty. Then one day, Maddie went #2 in the potty and my excitement was shockingly close to how I felt at my college graduation. Except I had done nothing. Then this happened:
“Look Mommy, I showed Maddie how to pee in the potty!”
“Look Mommy, now Charlotte does poopy like me!”
Somehow, in a weekend, they solved each other’s bathroom dilemmas all while I did very little besides cheerlead and provided toilet paper from the sidelines. Not that it isn’t work—I’ve never "mommied" harder than the 5am wakeup call, to my pantless children each carrying their full potties, while I feigned Disneyland excitement levels, as they present me with their morning duties.