Here's a fun little news item: a Utah woman named Kimberley Decker took her kids out to eat and snapped a photo of a nearby family toilet-training their kids right at the dinner table. Instead of having their kids sit on booster seats, the mother had them sitting on portable toilets, so that they could shit and piss themselves as they pleased. Now the photo has gone viral, and, like you, I'm now terrified that my next trip to P.F. Chang's will include seeing toddlers openly smearing their own feces all over a Bjorn plastic toilet seat.
Now, I have potty-trained two children. Or, more accurately, I have stood and watched as my wife has potty-trained two children. It's fucking AGONY. It takes forever, and at some point you will inevitably find yourself rinsing diarrhea out of a pair of choo-choo undies. There are hundreds of methods for teaching your children to use a toilet properly, but none of them is foolproof. Let me guide you through a handful of them:
The Lockdown Method
This is where you throw out all the diapers and spend a weekend in the house with the kids, forcing them to either A.) use a toilet or B.) shit on your floor. I know parents who have done this, and they swear it usually ends up working. But that weekend ... oh, that weekend. That's a two-day sentence in a prison, only your prison is the bottom of a port-o-let. I never worked up the nerve to go through with this method. We tried getting rid of the diapers once, but the kids screamed and wailed and pissed themselves for hours at a time. Halfway through the weekend, I caved and rushed out for the Huggies, just to end the misery.
The "We Never Use Diapers" Method
This is a relatively new parenting trend called elimination communication, and people who practice it believe in potty-training children from birth.
This practice is followed worldwide and is known as Elimination Communication, Natural Infant Hygiene, and Infant Potty Training. The process involves observing one's baby's signs and signals, providing cue sounds and elimination-place associations, and can be done with or without any diaper use.
Now, this is fine if you live in the Third World, where diapers are scarce and your normal toilet is a river. But in a civilized society, this is fucking disgusting. No one should ever listen to a bunch of hippie parents who think their one-month-old can magically tell them when it's time to shit in an empty bathtub. I know babies. Sometimes it looks like they're shitting, but they aren't. And sometimes, they shit when it looks like they're doing nothing at all. They don't care about giving you a heads-up. They're babies. They're utterly heartless.
The Reward Method
When my daughter was 2, we bought a pink school bus and stashed it in the closet. Then we told her that if she pooped on the potty, we had a special present for her. She didn't care. Then we showed her the bus and explained that she could have it if she pooped. Again, she didn't care. In fact, all she did for the next year was yell at us to give her the bus. And we did, because we SUCK.
The "Do It When They Say They're Ready" Method
This method involves you backing off, letting the child become curious about using toilets on her own. Once she expresses interest, you gently ask if she'd like to use it, and then she gives it a shot. This is a lovely, humane way of toilet-training your child. The problem is that the kid won't express interest in using the toilet until she is 26 goddamn years old. WILL YOU HURRY UP AND JUST USE THIS THING ALREADY? ALL THE OTHER KIDS ARE GONNA LAUGH AT YOU FOR USING DIAPERS AND SO WILL I.
The Portable Toilet Method
You put a little plastic toilet in the bathroom for the kid to piss and shit in, and you have to empty it out by hand. Now, this is repulsive. And I'm always terrified that I'll get poop and pee on me when I dump this thing into the big toilet (splashback is an issue). And if the kid has soft stool, you have to wipe up the fecal matter with a wet paper towel and then rinse it in the tub or sink and GUHHHHHHHH so awful. Then you bring the little toilet with you everywhere you go, so that the kid always has a safe, familiar place to poop. That is apparently what the insane Utah people in the above news story did. Please America, don't use these toilets at the restaurant table. Go to the bathroom and have your kids sit on them there. Or in the trunk of your car. Who lets their kids use a toilet in the middle of a public eating space? HAVE WE NO SHAME AT ALL? Did you give birth in your fucking driveway? Have some good taste.
Potty-training your kid is incredibly stressful because no one wants to be the last parent to succeed. No one wants to be the parent whose kid strolls into kindergarten still wearing a fucking diaper. Your parents will give you shit for it. Other parents will give you shit for it. Teachers will give you shit for it. There is immense pressure to potty-train your children before anyone notices that they're awfully old to still be potty-training. You feel like a complete failure when that happens. Conversely, when your kid potty-trains early, you glow with a secret pride as you tell other parents, knowing that their little mongoloids are still rocking Pampers. The smugness is intoxicating. I want to rub my child's superior shitting technique right in other parents' faces.
So I understand the great lengths that people go to when they train their kids. I know how miserable you feel when you're at another person's house and you have to ask permission to change a child's diaper on a carpet or a sofa. I know how frustrating it can be to watch your kids flail and scream any time you even suggest that they use a toilet. This is one of the hardest feats to pull off in parenting, and I sympathize with most folks. Except for the people bringing portable toilets into the deli. That's wrong, and you belong in jail forever if you do this.