The daycare where Theo goes (and where Phoebe goes 2 days a week) was closed this past Friday, and also today, as the provider was taking some vacation time. What this meant was that I was not going to be getting a lot of work done for a few days. It also meant something exceedingly rare: a 4-day stretch with Theo at home. Not in daycare, not travelling. And not sick, either. A combination of factors that may not have been experienced since he started full-time daycare over a year ago. I realized, with a combination of dread and resolve, that the time had come for…potty training.
(Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into details. At least not many.)
Our main motivating tool for this endeavor is a progress chart, linked to the promise of a bigger prize. Each successful potty usage gets a sticker on the chart, and a full chart gets a trip to a store pick out a toy.
Phoebe got mopey when I made out a chart for Theo, as she realized that she wouldn’t be having a chart, and thus Theo was in position to be gaining a toy when she wasn’t. Seeing as I have been struggling to get Phoebe to practice violin, I thought maybe this was an opportunity:
Phoebe was quite pleased that she was on her way to a prize. She practiced enthusiastically that very morning, and again the next day.
Theo, it turns out, was good and ready to be using the potty. He earned many, many stickers on his first day. And by the end of his second day, he was well on his way to have a filled chart. This is, of course, fantastic.
Unless you are Phoebe.
If you happen to be Phoebe, this is a near tragedy. Because while Theo’s chart had 20-odd stickers, Phoebe’s had only 2. All Theo had to do for his stickers was pee in a pot, an achievement that he quickly learned to achieve quickly. Phoebe had to do somewhat more than this. It was not likely that she would be practicing her violin 10 times a day.
Phoebe does not like to be the one left behind.
Sensing that Phoebe was ready to give up on her chart and her new-found enthusiasm for practicing violin, I had a flash of inspiration:
Phoebe, observant girl that she is, realized that I would not likely outpace her with my chart. If she couldn’t be at the front of the race, at least she wouldn’t be bringing up the rear.
As you can see, I have yet to put any stickers on my chart. I made mine on Saturday, and it was a long and harrowing weekend of exaggerated cheerfulness and frequent handwashing. Then, as I mentioned, there was no daycare today. I do hope to start adding stickers. I think I’m going to have the requirement that I work on my own research for at least a solid hour to earn a sticker. Failing that, I may just have to reward myself for peeing in the potty.
I can’t say how well this will all go in the weeks to come. Theo heads back to daycare tomorrow, which may be great for my own chart, but likely to be a big setback for his. (We achieved success by having Theo not wear a diaper at all, but that won’t fly at daycare.) In the meantime, check out this measure of success:
Here is the toy Theo picked out for his first filled chart:
I’m also very happy to say that Phoebe’s flurry of practice sessions also paid off, if not yet with a toy. Our violin teacher was pleased enough with her progress to say it was time for us to get Phoebe her first violin book. Phoebe was thrilled. She may even have described herself as “ecstatic.”
Moral of the story: peeing is not the only route to success.
¹ I’m still very entertained by my post “Standoff at the P. P. Corral,” which I wrote almost 3 years ago. I crack myself up.