I bought a Robert Sabuda book in late fall of 2006. I had gone to New York City with my ex, and found an absolutely delightful Wizard of Oz pop-up book -whimsical, ornate, and beautifully created – in the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop.
“I am saving this book to give to my first child,” I said, hugging the book dreamily.
After two moves, a breakup, and a marriage, that book stayed intact, wrapped piously in its original cellophane, awaiting my future child’s curious touch.
And then potty training happened.
I got the bright idea one day to give the “special potty book”, both several times beyond his level of comprehension and far too fragile for preschool hands, to Matthew, upon embarking on our potty training journey.
We’ve traveled to Emerald City and back, practiced pronouncing the word ‘tornado’, and tried to rationalize why the monkeys have wings, countless times.
Unfortunately, we haven’t come quite as far in the actual pottying department. Maybe he’s got a shy bladder, maybe he’s too intrigued to focus on the task at hand, but, he’s three, and we need to get this train moving. I’ve got two two-year-olds waiting in the wings.
We explain, we describe, we model. I bring him into the bathroom with me and ask him for step-by-step instructions, which he’s able to give. We offer rewards (fine, bribes), but nothing’s stuck yet.
I had another (equally bright) idea to try training Maggie concurrently, you know, since she’s got such a surplus of physical and cognitive energy, thinking it may ignite a spark of competition in Matthew, but it hasn’t. Those attempts, thus far, have resulted in her peeing on her feet, screaming, jumping out of the way, and then peeing on her feet some more.
I’ve sat, precariously, on the half of the toilet seat not occupied by the safety lock, with literal pain in my ass, many times now. I’ve considered (and declined) sitting on the bathroom floor in solidarity. I’ve stared into the potty, willing his nethers to produce, staring at his little wee so intently that I’m surprised it hasn’t caught fire, turned the water on and off, flushed the toilet, and even peed myself (not peed myself), in hopes of producing some physiological reaction.
“I’m done!” he declares proudly, pointing at the empty bowl, attempting to exit the bathroom with his pants around his ankles.
I’ve tried sitting there with him for the entire morning, but, unfortunately, with the other two, this doesn’t work. Breakfast decomposes on the table, while Maggie launches herself over the half wall by the bathroom, rips off a piece of the book, then runs away.
Sometimes I feel there’s not enough of me to get this job done.
The binding of the book’s ripped in half, the “magical” green-tinted glasses have been chewed at the handles, and the hot air balloon basket and a tiny version of Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s house lay, sadly, on the guest bathroom floor.
I feel like that book.
But I can’t give up, right? This is my job. Plus, all the “…only sixteen-year-old who won’t be potty trained!” jokes are starting to get to me.
Good news, though. I just checked Robert Sabuda’s website. He’s got more.
Slip on those green-colored glasses, and bring your antibacterial wipes.
We’ve got more work to do.