When toilets flush, I cringe. And then I check the household valuables. That’s because I have a Flusher at home. (Flusher: noun. A toddler hell bent on filling the toilet to the brim with electronics, My Little Ponys, hermit crabs, and pork loins, then pressing that flush lever until the bowels of the earth spew back onto your bathroom tiles).
The day that I discovered his secret potty-training identity, I was mistakenly lured in by the promise of the flushing toilet. I burst into the bathroom, awash in the dream that my fully potty-trained son would be valiantly requesting a wipe of his butt and a fresh pair of superhero underwear.
...But, instead, I found him piling washcloths into the toilet. He was reaching for the flusher with a stated plan of “sending raincoats down for the Ninja Turtles,” whom he had just “transported home.”
There are so many ways that children terrorize us during potty training. If the struggle is real for you, then just know that there are millions of us out there just like you. Maybe that solidarity will give us some daytime solace to rival the evening comforts of our oversized wineglasses.
Which potty training alter ego is your toddler?
The Jackson Pollack. This artist walks into a drab bathroom and knows JUST the right subtle accent to glam things up. She works with her own signature shade of brown, and her canvas takes the form of the mirror, the floor tiles, the insides of vanity drawers, rug fibers …Or, if she’s feeling inspired, she’s also known to rocket out of the bathroom using her own bare bum as a painting implement in different rooms of the house.
The Flusher. These little dreamers are enchanted by the secrets of the netherworld just beyond the magical portal at the bottom of the toilet. Rare coin collections, false teeth, Iphones and bathroom doorknobs are among the items reported lost by parents of Flushers across America. Poop is rarely on the list of things that go down the toilet in a Flusher’s early days, though.
(PS: As the parent of a Flusher, I found it hugely helpful to use a FlushStop, which locks the flusher while keeping the toilet open for them to use it independently).
The Procrastinator. This bon vivant is too enrapt in the splendors of life outside the bathroom to stop and get down to business. When he finally acknowledges that an entire bowl of fruit and three glasses of water need to find an emergency exit route out of his body, it’s usually less than two seconds before his shoes are soaked. And, you’re usually sitting in traffic.
The Basker. She likes to savor the luxurious repose that comes with her alone time on the potty. Actually using the toilet is secondary to just getting away from it all and catching up on a good alphabet book. The greatest basking records reach upwards of 2 hours on or near the potty without a drop of actual pottytime success. But later, she’ll be sure to let loose all over the floor.
The Conspiracy Theorist. What exactly are you up to here? Life has been flowing nicely for over a year, and now you’re ruining everything by asking her to climb onto this terrifying deathstar and surrender her hard-earned bm’s to the underworld. Every toilet flush sounds like the vengeful roar of the unhappy demon that is obviously lying in wait just beyond the Ubend. NO, she doesn’t need to use the potty. Ever. And, no, she definitely won’t be going anywhere near modern plumbing and automatic flushers. Nice try.
The Unicorn. This little angel takes to toilet training right away. She’s mesmerized by the potty books that we all force feed our children to no avail, and she has taken away valuable life lessons from them. She announces when she needs to go to the bathroom well in advance, because she knows how impractical it is for her caretakers to find a bathroom at the last minute. What a love. Parents of unicorns are usually more than happy to give you unsolicited advice about your potty training trials.
If you’re like me, then you’re looking out to those glorious underpants on the horizon… even though we’re ovaries-deep in this messy, seemingly endless, milestone. At least we’re in it together. And at least we have dark chocolate peanut butter cups to get us through the hardest times (they sell them at the health food store, so they’re practically a vegetable). See you on the other side.