Photo Credit: Jessica Lewis/Flickr Open/Getty Images
Sunday, 4:45 am
L wakes me with a poke to the face. I lead her back to her bed, only to discover that the sheets and comforter are soaked. Quickly, I debate my options: Get her back to sleep or strip her, strip the bed and risk exhaustion later in the day. I go with the former.
Sunday, 5:15 am
Clearly, I should have opted for the latter.
Sunday, 8 am
After 20 trips to the potty in 24 minutes, I teach L the phrase, "false alarm."
Sunday, 8:10 am
Turd No. 3 makes an appearance -- in her undies. Crying ensues. Lots of crying. Once everything is clean, once everyone is calm, L and I talk about how "icky" it felt to have poop in her undies. The lesson: Next time, be more patient.
Sunday, 8:45 am
It hits me that I haven't left the house in 37 hours, so I head into town for a coffee. I end up walking the aisles of Safeway, just because. A neighbor stops me to say hello. She says I look lost. I tell her I feel like I've just been released from prison.
Sunday, 11:15 am
Without warning, in the middle of an episode of "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" on TV, L pops off the couch and runs to the bathroom. She pulls down her undies, sits down and immediately starts peeing. Two drops hit the floor; the rest -- and trust me, there is a lot -- lands safely in the potty. Nikki and I are so proud, we're almost speechless. L, on the other hand, is ecstatic, jumping around the room screaming, "Potty Power! Potty Power!"
Sunday, 3 pm
Another pee without incident.
Sunday, 5:15 pm
Yet another pee, sans drama. If this were a video game, an omniscient voice would utter something like, "She's on fire!" or "She's unstoppable!" L is "feeling it" herself; between the way she yanks off those undies and angles her body to keep her pee in the bowl, her confidence is clearly growing.
Sunday, 7 pm
One last pee before bedtime. Neither Nikki nor I can believe our eyes.
Monday, 5:30 am
L wakes with a start and runs to wake up Nikki. As I come to, I hear them cheering. Apparently the day has started with another success. I am relieved, especially since Nikki heads back to work today and I'll be watching L and her baby sister solo for most of the morning.
Monday, 830 am
Poop dance begins, triggering another spate of false alarms. I grow increasingly nervous with each dash into the bathroom, since I know I've got to feed the baby at 9 am. I suggest a lengthy session on the potty so L can just wait for the turds to come. She rejects this plan. Loudly. So I leave it alone.
Monday, 9:10 am
I'm feeding the baby when L starts crying uncontrollably. I smell poop. I encourage migration into the bathroom. But L won't budge. Finally, somehow, we relocate. L yanks down her undies. A giant turd falls out on the floor. L is so focused on getting to the potty at this point that she doesn't even see the poop in front of her. This, of course, explains why she steps in it, and gets it all over her feet. I wait patiently until the baby finishes her bottle, set her in the bassinette, and return to the bathroom to tend to L. Never in my life have I cleaned so much crap.
Monday, 9:30 am
Still cleaning. Without question, this ranks as the toughest hour in three years of fatherhood.
Monday, 10 am Finally, all is calm. L and I have another chat about icky poop in the pants. Unprovoked, she vows not to do it again. Oddly, I believe her. And I pray she follows through.
Tuesday, 11:30 pm
So far, she has. Sure, the subsequent poop was a struggle, but in the end, she waited it out on the potty for 20 minutes, then unleashed an effort worthy of that text message to friends. And the peeing? I'm not an expert on female urination, but my wife tells me it looks like the kid has been doing it for years. In the book, Jensen boasts that most kids are potty-trained after 72 hours. In reality, give or take a few hours, our L miraculously has proved her right. We know we're not out of the woods yet -- I wouldn't be surprised if we had four or five accidents before the week is out. But with great pride and incredible gratitude, I can assert confidently that the worst appears to be behind us.
Our daughter had a (typical) relapse with both pee and poop about two weeks in -- a series of late-night bed-wettings and mid-day poops in the pants. Then she went through a phase where it took her 20 minutes of grunting and groaning to poop. Finally, one day, it all just clicked. Since then, she's nixed the groaning and the long waits on the poops, and has managed to figure out how to do the whole pee thing entirely by herself (climbing up on step-stool for potty and everything). She also has established a routine: Regular pees throughout the day (about 3 hours apart) and a poop between dinner and bedtime. (Every now and again, she wakes up between 1 and 2 am to pee as well, but afterward goes immediately back to sleep.) Because I expressed pride the first time she clogged the toilet with poop, her ongoing goal is to do it again. Since that first time, the kid has achieved it twice (seriously). Never a dull moment.