I’ve recently achieved the holy grail of parenting: peeing alone.
It wasn’t always this way. For as long as I can remember, I have had to take Oliver to the bathroom with me, lest he dissolve into a wailing pile of meltdown (yeah, I know that’s not a thing, but it is truly the most accurate description I can muster).
Then, we potty trained. Part of the potty training process involves constantly dragging your kid into the toilet with you so that you can “model” the hows and wherefores of using the toilet. It also helps them understand that using the toilet is safe — that nobody dies or gets swallowed up while doing so.
It’s been five months since Oliver potty trained. Suffice it to say, I think he’s had more than enough opportunities to bear witness to the fact that Mommy and Daddy both come out of the bathroom unscathed — every time.
Aside from getting tired of having a toddler try to stick his head in my business every time I sit down to pee — or the fact that sometimes, dammit, I just want to spend one minute alone — allowing Oliver in the bathroom was making it impossible to get out the door in the mornings in any reasonable amount of time.
Allow me to explain:
When I go to the bathroom alone, I can be in and out in about 60 seconds, including washing my hands. Not so when Oliver comes into the bathroom with me.
Me: “Oliver, Mommy is going to use the potty. I will be right back.”
I make a beeline for my bedroom, pulling the door closed behind me, but am foiled by a toddler who apparently has the ability to time warp. I walk into the bathroom and he follows. I begin to unbutton my pants, then notice my son is standing beside the toilet, pants and underpants down around his ankles.
Oliver: “Ollie need a go pee-pee.”
Me: “You just peed in your bathroom. You don’t need to go.”
Oliver (whining): “I need a go pee-pee nee how [right now].”
Cursing under my breath, I find his seat insert, put it on the toilet, lift him onto the seat.
Oliver: “Ollie take a pants off.”
(He’s a toddler, so using the toilet often involves being nude from the waist down.) Pants and underpants are removed. Seconds later…
Oliver: “All done potty! I need a toilet paper.”
Me: “You didn’t pee. You don’t need toilet paper.”
Oliver (whining again): “I need a toilet paper!”
I hand him a couple of squares of TP, lift him off the toilet, and wrestle him back into his underwear and pants.
Oliver: “I need a flush a toilet.”
I really shouldn’t let him flush “for fun,” but at this point I give in. I just want to take a damn pee and get us out of the house already.
I sit down on the toilet and Oliver immediately commences Operation Destroy the Bathroom:
- All damp laundry hanging within reach is pulled down and thrown into the bathtub.
- All bath/shower items on the ledge of the tub are pushed into the tub.
- Drawers and/or cupboards are opened, and their contents removed (sometimes to the tub).
- Toilet paper is unrolled.
- Oliver does a “mission accomplished” victory dance on the bathroom scale.
All of this takes place in the span of precisely 60 seconds, so imagine what happens when I — gasp! — take a few extra seconds to brush my hair or apply lipstick. Now I have a 10 minute clean-up job, by the end of which, Oliver will doubtlessly be asking to use the potty again.
This peeing alone thing isn’t a simple matter of privacy; it’s a necessity if I plan to do anything else other than hang out in the bathroom all day.
So how did I accomplish this feat of peeing alone? Quite simply, I told Oliver that henceforth, when I go to the bathroom, he will need to remain in his bedroom or the living room. Before I go to the bathroom, I take a couple of minutes to engage with him, either by reading a short story, singing a song, or joining in his play. I tell him that after ‘X’ is finished, I will need to go to the bathroom, and that he will need to play or read by himself for a short time.
The first few times I did this, Oliver protested loudly, banging on my bedroom door, yelling and crying. He also once managed to knock over a baby gate, which fell to the floor with a loud crash and sent me running out into the living room to make sure he was still alive.
After about half a dozen times, Oliver’s protests diminished. Now, he occasionally lets out a half-hearted whine, but mainly, he just carries on with whatever activity is currently engaging him. I can even get enough alone time to finish applying makeup, fix my hair, or change my clothes!
We get out of the house on time. I get a few minutes to myself. It’s win-win (for me 🙂 ). I just wonder why it took me so long to figure this out!