Many times I am reminded of how lucky a person I am. Although I became a mother for the first time at the age of twenty one, I had a very loving, supportive and helpful family. They helped me to understand a lot of child behaviors that had me stumped. For instance, when my oldest son was fifteen months old, he loved to empty tissue boxes one tissue at a time. This aggravated me because I would tell him no over and over again, yet the minute I went to the bathroom or even just turned my back on him in a room, my little tissue fiend was at it again. One day my mom caught me yelling at him for this and asked me why I was so upset. I explained that I kept telling him no, yet he continued to do it and tissues aren’t free and the waste of money was really upsetting me. She calmly told me that she understood my frustration. She reminded me that toddlers often do things they have been told not to do – it just comes with the age and that I would have to be more patient. She then got me a plastic supermarket shopping bag, put all the tissues in it then tucked it away in my closet.
Seems like a small thing, but the larger lesson is that what one person thinks of as common sense, may not be to another and that young moms often need advice from someone older that they can trust for help with every day parenting issues. Which brings me to the potty in the park incident. I was in my local playground with my six year old this summer, and a middle aged woman was there with a little girl who looked to be about 2 years old. I’m not positive if she was the child’s mother or a sitter, but she had the child sitting on a potty which was placed next to the bench. The little girl’s pants were down around her ankles and she was holding her shirt up under her arms. Suffice it to say my son wasn’t the only child distracted from playing. It got to the point where I offered him a trip to the ice cream store to get him to leave the park quickly and quietly.
I don’t think that it’s appropriate to approach people in the playground and offer parenting advice, especially to people who look older than I am. Yet I can’t help wondering if I should have said something, after all, maybe she had no one to talk to about potty training. I was pretty disgusted at the time, but maybe she really didn’t know that her actions were inappropriate and I could have given her sound advice on potty training. So I have decided to say here what I didn’t that day: no matter how long it is taking or how discouraged you get, it is never appropriate to potty train a child in a public park. It is inconsiderate to all the other children in the park. I have no problem with nudity but I don’t expect to be confronted with it in a playground. And if you are having a power struggle with a small child over potty training, letting her watch other children run around while you force her to sit on the pottly is not going to sway the battle in your direction.
Potty training can be very difficult and with some children, the only thing that works is time. It can be an embarrassing and stressful waiting game. Yet there are many books, websites, magazines and even videos that give sound, helpful advice. My advice if you are having trouble is to utilize these resources or ask people you know. You could even ask other moms in your local playground, many of us would love to tell you how we did it.