I contemplate this often, because my daughter’s potty needs are a much higher priority now than ever they were during the diaper stage. A wet diaper was not the end of the world to my toddler. She would deal with it until I completed whatever important mommy task I was involved in, then I would take a break, change the diaper, and life would return to normal.
But my potty trained three-year-old is an entirely different creature. She has what I call Baby Walnut Bladder, which apparently becomes excruciatingly full upon every third swig from the sippy cup. This sensation of fullness causes her to abandon all tasks great and small—everything from princess dress-up to Play-Doh—and launch into full-blown emergency mode:
“Mommeeeee, Ineedtogo potteeeeeeeee!”
I pause to consider. Is she capable of taking off her own clothes? Check. Is the bathroom completely equipped with a stool and all the child-friendly potty accessories imaginable solely for her comfort and convenience? Check. Does she understand what toilet paper is for and how to tear off an appropriate amount? Check (though her willingness to tear off only enough for one wipe cannot be relied upon under any circumstances).
So with all these factors in place, as I stop and look at my darling little girl who has developed the art of jumping, bouncing, and squirming about while holding her hands between her knees, I ask myself why she insists that she cannot go potty without my help. My guess is that it’s a form of manipulation that gives her the upper hand. She knows that potty needs take priority, and she’s using it as a way to gain control of me by forcing me to pay attention to her needs.
I finally managed to work out a deal with her. If she has to go that bad, as in rightthisinstant, she runs off to do her deed and I’ll come along shortly to help her wipe her bottom. I am still willing to assist with this task, as I figure that her days for asking me to wipe her tushie are numbered. All too soon I suspect that I will miss the sight of that bare little behind.
The other choice that she occasionally opts for is to hold it until I’m ready to help her. Those are the times when I realize that it’s about much more than potty assistance or the capacity of her wee walnut bladder (which is way stronger than she’ll let on). It’s about her wanting my attention. So we talk while she sits, and we giggle together, and I give her a courtesy wipe followed by an up-with-the-pants and an arm-tight hands-free hug, and we have fun splashing in the soapy bubbles together, and suddenly, I realize that we just bonded over a pee break.
And then I understand why us women always go to the bathroom in pairs. It’s bonding time—minus the courtesy wipe.