I was driving home from work today and as I motored along Westlake Ave — a busy Seattle street that hugs the west side of Lake Union — I passed a man walking two Boston terriers who were poised mid-process in the act of taking a long and thoughtful shit. Two dogs, the exact same size, the exact same breed (dogs whose faces have always reminded me of Andy Rooney), humped over in unison in that vaguely humiliating dog way, pumping out what were surely identically-shaped turds. And there was this guy holding two leashes strained in two different directions, who was not standing there wishing for death or crawling into the bushes to escape the snickering glances from the cars passing by, but was stoically digging out two plastic bags from his pocket, ready to scoop up and presumably dispose of his dogs’ feces.

Sometimes I am thunderstruck by the inherent goodness of people, you know? Not always, but sometimes.


I have been trying to stop myself from writing about potty training because while I feel perfectly fine about discussing baby poop, I feel a bit more uncomfortable talking about 3-year-old poop, but I cannot help myself tonight: DEAR GOD THE POTTY TRAINING IS KILLING ME. I am convinced we have fucked it up in every possible way, and even though I swore I would never backtrack once we embarked on this oh-so-rewarding journey, after a recent weekend of our kid holding it until he was in pure misery, we pretty much put Riley back in pull-ups and stopped dragging him to the potty every ten minutes and man, I sure don’t know WHAT the fuck to do at this point. He poops at night and during naps, and no amount of bribery, explanations, supportive discussions, or outright threats is making a difference. Tonight he did something I guess I’d call a shart on our couch and I am no stranger to cleaning up disgusting substances but a plastic bag and a Boston terrier on a busy street is sounding FAR more preferable to dealing with someone’s stubborn refusal to crap in an area designed for crapping, and HELP HELP HELP. Is there something proactive I should be doing at this point? Or sit back and let it be for now? Seriously, any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Home life in CRAZYTOWN:


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13 years ago

sit back and let it be. I don’t know if this will make you feel better or horrify you, but my son was 3.5 before he was reliable with potty pooping. It didn’t bother me, so I didn’t consider it late.

13 years ago

This really has nothing to do with your problem, but my Labrador can’t poop without sporting a huge dog-erection. The situation has been the bane of my existence for quite some time now.

People most certainly are not shy in commenting about it.

I am most certainly deathly embarrassed by it, however.

Lisa {milkshake}
13 years ago

My daughter wasn’t completely potty-trained until after 3 1/2. She would do the same thing – wait until she had a pull-up on to poop (she would pee on the potty). We put them on her again because she was holding it in and was miserable.

It bugged me for the longest time, but then I realized that I can’t MAKE her go. What we finally did was put her potty in her room during naptime and she eventually started pooping in private. She would call me when she was done and I would go in and wipe her. Eventually I had her go before her nap.

She’s fine now! I think he’s probably not ready yet.

13 years ago

Take heart! As a mother who’s potty trained four of her own – 2 boys and 2 girls, put the pull ups back on him and wait a month or two, don’t mention it at all during that time. Then, start fresh like it’s the first time. And really, in the grand scheme of life..don’t sweat it. He’ll get it.

13 years ago

My 3.5 year old boy, Tobias, is still waiting for the predictable night-time diaper to do #2. So obviously he can hold it and knows what poop is. Its a struggle and it gets to be beyond frustrating but, from the sound of the comments prior to mine, it is not abnormal.

With the dog poop thing . . . good for that guy! No one likes to step in crap whilst walking about the neighborhood. :) Funny visual though.

God bless!

13 years ago

That video reminds me so very much of the episode of Friends where the power goes out and they’re all BWAHAHA-ing and the power suddenly clicks on. Or the one where Pheobe and Joey hatch their plan to get Ross & Rachel together (it’s not SANTA’S plan).

Or, something else where it sounds like I have a life.

I just love listening to Dylan trying to add to melee, is all.

13 years ago

The ‘shart’ on the couch ALMOST made me regurgitate my lunch. Oh god! I couldn’t cope, just couldn’t cope.

Somehow, by some stroke of luck, the 3 and 3/4 YO in my life just GOT toilet training at age 3 + 1 week. Well all but 1, count em, 1 mishap and that was only because he was put down to bed already asleep and we weren’t able to do the toilet run first.

The key for us was definitely a small amount of bribery (1 small sweet after each successful visit for the first 2ish months), referring to it as the ‘big boys toilet’ or ‘going to the big boys toilet just like Dad’ and constantly asking if he needed to go. It worked for us. Although it did backfire on Dad recently when said 3 + 3/4 YO was standing, hand busy at groin and his ever vigilent father asked “do you need to go to the toilet” to which our young man replied “No, just itching my diddle”. I had to walk away.

13 years ago

Been there. Believe me. Two things come to mind….

1.) There will be a time when the switch in his head will flip, and he will suddenly “get it”. You cannot flip it for him, and I’m not sure that there is anything that can be done to help expedite him finding the switch. Just (ugh) bear with it.

2.) A mistake I made that you can learn from – I too was at the end of my rope with my oldest. I had reached a point of my insanity where I was taking her EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES to the potty – just to sit there, or have her spray something into the toilet, or every time give birth to a massive poo-baby- I don’t really know. But I was satisfied with the every 15 minute trip to the potty and have her sit there (despite her frantic objections) – regardless if she produced something or not.

Our pediatrician sat me down and explained to me my insanity. That I was confusing her rather than helping her see the value and purpose that the toilet serves. The game plan that she gave to me, and that I pass onto you is – he should have a morning potty visit right out of the bed – then three hours later another, and a visit every three hours after that. His system is not in tuned with this schedule – but over time he will be, and he will see the value and purpose of the toilet with these spaced out and meaningful trips every three hours. Give his body the time to build up a need to go to the potty (something that 15 minutes does not allow). And perhaps he may even say he needs to go before the next three hour mark. Then again, he may drop a dripping load on your couch again 20 minutes after his last visit. Stick with it. And don’t fall into the black-hole of 15 minute trips. It seems natural to fall into that trap, but it doesn’t serve the purpose.

13 years ago

My boys were both 4 when they potty trained. What worked for me is keeping a calendar and everytime they peed, I put a star sticker on the day. When they pooped, they got a 2 stars put on the day. After 10 stars, they got to go to the toy store to pick out a toy. It only took about 2 weeks and they became potty trained (during the day). The nighttime potty training took a little longer. Both were about 5 1/2 when they started going through the night dry.

Hang in there! This won’t be forever!
Good Luck!

13 years ago

OK, let me number 100 to say that they won’t do it until they are ready. With mine, the light just switched on. Poop really wasn’t an issue-he hated the squishiness after a while. What helped was that we did a one weekend “booty” camp. NO pullups, no diapers (except for naptime). He had to change his pants, clean up the pee, etc. He didn’t poop that day, so no grossness there, but he got the point.

A week later, we were out of pullups for daycare, so I bit the bullet (oh, and Target wasn’t open when we had to leave that morning), and sent him in underwear. Only one real accident since then, and the poop ones were really minor-he started, literally thought, oh shit, and then made it to the potty. At a couple weeks past three, he’s almost completely trained. I just need to be brave enough to let him go through the night-he’s dry about 85% of the time, which I’ll take at this point.

Give him room, and tons of praise. Oh, and a good stiff drink for yourself.

13 years ago

WHen my daughter turned three, she potty trained in two days, and never had an accident again.
A year later, when my son turned three, we tried the same. I gave up after awhile. At three and a half, we tried again. You know, since having a 42lb kid shit in his pants is a bit much. Again, absolutely no go. And we tried EVERYTHING. Every single piece of advice, every method, and nothing worked. Since he was getting ready to start preschool, in July I started getting a little panicky.
In August (he turns 4 in Dec), one day he woke up, took off his diaper, and says “I’m wearing unnawear today.” And from that point on, he REFUSED to put on a diaper again.
It took a week of accidents, and another week of fewer accidents, to get him to understand his body’s rhythms and use the toilet as a precursor to bodily function rather than an afterthought.
My point (longwinded though it may be…sorry) is that he will do it when he’s ready. The more you try to force it, the longer and more painful it will be. Just leave it alone for awhile, and he’ll figure it out on his own. After all…you never see kids in Kindergarten in diapers, do you? (And I was a teacher, so I know this doesn’t really happen.)
Breathe. Relax. And let him figure it out.

13 years ago

Let him learn outside instead of on the toilet. Guys love that kind of thing. And the cleanup would be just like the guy with the two dogs. You could even hose him off outside if the weather permitted.

13 years ago

I’ve done this four times now, and I can tell you what I know: It’s a battle of wills you CANNOT win. There’s no way to control it, and boys especially seem to view it as their way to control YOU, so you can do what I did: give up. There is a very good reason that I had two potty-train this year (yes, Bug turned five in August, so sue me!), and it’s because Bug was NOT going to go in the potty. I couldn’t squeeze it out of him, so I just left it. All his friends were trained (he did not care). A trip to Chuck E. Cheese was in the offering (he did not care). I bought him every kind of underwear under the sun (he did not care). I consented to karate classes like his brother (he did not care). Finally, I said “Whatever. But I’m not chasing you or assembling anything to change you. I’ll deign to change you on my schedule and only if you bring me EVERYTHING to do so, including a clean pull-up, garbage bag, wipes, etc. He did it for about four months, decided it was old, and trained.

Sorry you have another boy following. The girls were WAY easier. Just up and decided to train in exchange for ballerina classes. ;)

13 years ago

Oh yeah… I should add that when all my kids trained? It wasn’t so much “trained” as “decided to go on the potty” and we had no accidents, no struggles, no nothing. I really wonder if we as a society aren’t trying to do things sooner than they are ready. And using cloth diapers helped with the first two… they didn’t like being wet.

13 years ago


You may not even make it this far after all the great advice before mine, but if you do, PLEASE please read the above link. This dude is the guru of common sense parenting, and I think all of us lose our minds from time to time in this department. Potty training is definitely one of those times. This technique mayseem a bit harsh, but it works (for me at least). Three year olds, especially smart ones like Riley, have the mental and physical skills to go poop on the potty–sometimes they just need a motivator that makes sense only to them, so figure out what his most beloved “currency” is, and take it away til he does his business. I promise it won’t take long. It will be worth the tears. (His AND yours!) Best of luck.
You are my favorite blogger. Thanks for all the laughs.