My daughter, Maddo, was so excited. She knew what was coming next.
“You sure did, honey! Way to go!”
“I went pee-pee!”
“Yes. Yes you did!”
Prior to having kids, I never, ever thought I would be in a situation where I would be congratulating someone and getting excited over them successfully going to the bathroom. But, once you have kids, everything does indeed change and that includes the activities you participate in.
One of those is potty training your daughter. And this hasn’t been easy for any of us.
Potty training is one of those things, like grilling hamburgers and checking tire pressure, that everyone has a different view about doing. Of course, theirs is always the right way, gets the best results and is better than how you are doing it…
“Maddo STILL isn’t potty trained and she’s HOW OLD??? Must be something wrong with her, because Chlöe was out of diapers by the time she was walking! Did I mention she was walking at six months and could recite the Gettysburg Address by seven? Have you tried the [Insert name of latest Oprah/Dr. Oz-approved psychobabble] Method of potty training her?”
These people are why I support the death penalty.
Normally, I could care less about what they think. But with Maddo closing in on turning three, I have to admit that I have begun to wonder when she will stop wetting herself and when we will be able to retire diapers from the daily expenses that come with raising this little girl.
My wife, The Thoroughly Awesome Ms. Crums, and I tried many things to get Maddo on the pot, so to speak. When we would give her a bath, we would put Maddo on the toilet as the water filled the tub. Most of the time, this ended with Maddo going into one of her approximately 36 crying fits a day.
We did the trick of not putting a diaper on Maddo and, instead, dressing her in pair of little girl underwear under her pants. The idea being that she would pee on herself once or twice, then learn to tell us that she was about to go, and from then on we would just take her to the toilet and let her do her thing.
Of course, what happened is that Maddo peed on herself a couple of times and we decided we had enough of cleaning up after that effort. Back to the Pampers.
I would read a book called “It’s Potty Time!” to Maddo at night and think I had her excited about getting on the toilet. On every page, there was a cartoon picture of a happy little girl sitting on the toilet, or wiping herself clean, or washing her hands. On the next to last page, she was dancing happily along with the pet dog.
“Big girls use the toilet! I’m a big girl now! Do you want to be a big girl like me?”
Maddo would always say “Yes!” when I read this to her…But putting her on the toilet? Get out the earplugs and prepare for a round of a two-year-old’s kicks to your mid-section.
I began having visions of three years down the road and sending Maddo off to kindergarten loaded up with her Dora The Explorer backpack and being the only kid that still had to be shopped for on the diapers aisle at Babies R Us. More drastic measures were becoming necessary.
And that’s when it hit me. I took a page from the book “Freakonomics” and went with the one thing that always works and is responsible for more things getting done in this world than all the telethons, bake sales and insufferable earnestness of Bono all put together:
Well, the “Freakonomics” authors, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, actually use the term “incentives”, for the most part, to describe what it is that drives people to do things. But let there be no doubt: they are talking about bribes. Levitt even admits as much when he talks about how he used candy to entice his daughter to start using the toilet on a regular basis. And since he’s rich enough to buy the M&M Mars company with his “Freakonomics” royalties, who am I to go against his methods.
Which is why we have stocked up on M&M’s lately and told Maddo that every time she goes potty like a big girl she will get a piece of candy. Well, needless to say, she can’t get on the toilet fast enough now.
And you know what? Bribery works. She is now telling us that she has to go and, nearly every time she gets up on the seat, she does it, and gets to pick out an M&M as her reward. Sure, there are times when I know she just wants to get a piece of candy and doesn’t go, but right now, so what? She’s learning what we want her to learn. And if it takes enticing her with a bag of delicious chocolaty treats to get her out of her diapers, so be it.
And before anyone starts clamoring, “What kind of lesson is that?” just keep this in mind. Almost all of us submit to some form of bribery every day. We do it out of necessity and because we don’t want to live on the streets.
It’s called “Getting Paid To Go To Work”.