M&Ms Aren’t Magic

Parenting failures and potty training.

In December of 2010, I made my usual New Years’ resolutions: organize the house, clean more, eat better. Wanting to be a better parent, I also put on there that I planned to potty train our son, Nate, who was two at the time.

I love a completed list and I’m always eager to finish off my resolutions, but I can safely say that for the past two years, that resolution is still unresolved. It is now February of 2012 and Nate is three and a half. I still cannot say that he is fully potty trained.

God truly laughed at my plans.

I know, it makes me sound like a terrible mother. We have honestly tried many things and while Nate is very, very close to being done, he’s not there yet.

And no, I don’t want your solution. Every time that I’ve mentioned that Nate is taking a while to potty train, I end up getting more advice than is helpful. When you’ve tried every trick, explanation, and DVD combination you can think of, you really don’t want to hear, “Oh, just use M&Ms. They work magic.”

M&Ms didn’t work. Neither did suckers or stickers or dollar store toys. We played movies and read potty books (shudder) and still, Nate wasn’t interested. We’d take him potty and he’d do what we told him to do, but unless we took him literally every 7 minutes every day, he’d forget. He ruined a good piece of furniture on a day we had some moderate success, and I chickened out and quickly put him back in training pants.

You have to know this about Nate: he’s very serious about play. He acts like it’s his job. If we’re out running errands, he can’t wait to get home to play with his toys. If we come back from vacation, he will stay in his room for three days to catch up with them. He loves to be home with his books and cars and puzzles and balls.

When you have all that, who cares about going potty?

It brings out the mother-neurotic in me and I stress about him going to college before he’s potty trained. But most of the time, I see that he has made progress and there are days when he does very well.

And all you moms out there with kids who happily used the potty at 20 months? I’m happy for you, but I really don’t want to hear about how awesome your method was. Because, like most parenting issues, it probably wasn’t your method at all. It probably was your kid and how all the factors of age, maturity, interest, and fairy dust came together at the right time to make you look like you have your life together. Obviously, I don’t have this part of parenting under total control, and while we’re working on it and certainly not ignoring everything, that’s ok.

M&Ms aren’t magic. But I’m still hoping that DUPLOs are.

Connie Moser February 06, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Ha Ha ha...Good luck Whitney! My oldest son was past three and I remember crying while changing a diaper as I told him, "I hope you're paying attention to how I change a diaper, because you'll have to do it yourself when you start school! Fortunately, his little sister ( eleven months his junior) taught him how :-)
Grace C. February 17, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Been there, done that! Hang in there, Whitney. You're so right, one of these days it will click and he'll be done with diapers! And it does not reflect badly on you as a mother!!


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