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Bath & Potty Time

10 Truths About Potty Training

Get ready to wait, beware of early achievers, and yes, even though it's so hard to believe, diapers are easier

In theory, potty training always sounds like a good idea. No more diapers. No more bulky diaper bags. No more poopy bottoms. For so many parents of toddlers, potty training is the ultimate mark of freedom. But after potty training two children with relative success, I've learned a few things about that coveted milestone.

1. Potty training is kind of never over. Poop never ends. Whether you child is pooping in a diaper, leaving track marks in her princess undies, or forgetting to wipe-when you are a parent, poop never ends. My friends who have high schoolers tell me they still deal with poop in the form of clogged toilets and dirty bathrooms. And it may seem like those things would be easier to deal with than a diaper, but I assure you, nothing is worse than scrubbing warm turds out of princess undies.

2. Be prepared to sit. One thing that always amazes me about potty training is how much time I spend sitting on the tile floor of the bathroom telling my child, "Just squeeze it out. Just squeeze." When my daughter was potty training, I often sat in there with a drink, or a book, or I nursed the baby. With my son, I use it as time to check my email. I know I need to cherish these moments, but there is little fun in listening to your kid toot for forty minutes, while insisting they still have to "go poop wight now, mom!"

3. Diapers were easier. I always tell parent friends not to rush potty training. I like to tell them this earnestly, grabbing their hands and whispering in their ears, "Enjoy this diaper time!" Because truthfully, diapers mean your children are self-contained units. Once you take that away, there is no telling where the excrement will flow.

4. You aren't done with the diaper bag. Potty training just means that now you need a few extra back up outfits and probably some wipes. And okay, maybe a pull-up, just in case. And the very moment you think you can go without all of that stuff is the moment they will pee their pants in the middle of the mall and shut down the play area for an hour, while all the other parents glare at you.

5. Most kids who are potty trained early aren't potty trained early. Before I potty trained my first child, I read a lot of potty training literature written by smug experts who assured me I could potty train my 18 month old and if I couldn't, it was my fault not hers. So, I went to work. We did the potty training boot camp, we took away diapers and pull-ups, I immediately regretted it. Because here is the catch: If you have to set a timer and tell your kid to go on the potty every two hours, they aren't potty trained. That just means, the kid has trained you. A child who is actually potty trained will ask to go to the bathroom 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent is when they are playing with their friends and simply forget until it's too late.

6. You will cry. I have never cried harder than the time I came into my two-year-old's bedroom and saw that she had pooped right on the rug and then wiped her bottom on it. I had to call my husband in tears and ask that he come home from work to deal with the mess.

7. You will laugh. Discussing pee and poop with my children is surprisingly delightful. For many months my daughter was convinced she would actually poop a baby into the toilet. My 3-year-old likes to tell people he keeps his poop in his head and when it won't come out it's because it's stuck in his ears. When my daughter was 2 and she had to go number two, she'd loudly declare, "Mom, it's poking out of my butt!" Just that memory still makes me laugh.

8. You will get pee on you. I mean, sure, babies pee on their parents a lot. But toddlers? Elementary school kids? At those ages it's worse because you know they know better. And it always comes at you by surprise, like when you stick your hand unawares into the laundry basket to sort the clothes.

9. You will have to say "You can't poop in the yard!" Potty training is a time that tries the souls of parents. I've had to make a lot of crazy rules like you can't sit on the toilet backward, no peeing in the yard, no peeing in plastic containers, no using your dollhouse toilet like a toilet, and on and on.

10. It will be awful until one day it isn't. No matter how great your kid is at potty training, unless you enjoy wiping up pee and handling warm turds, it will be awful and tedious and you will wonder if it will ever end and then, one day, it will. One day, your child will just start going and it will be a revelation. I mean sure, you'll still have pee on the floor and poop in the pants occasionally for the rest of their lives, but it won't be so pressing. Then, all that emotional energy can finally be focused on something worthwhile-like reality television.