Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Last week I toilet trained Peter, the fifth child I've trained in 9 years. I was pretty apprehensive beforehand, groaning inwardly at the thought of dealing with this not-so-pleasant task, but, as usually happens, the whole thing surprised me. Armed with Lightning McQueen stickers and a jumbo bag of M&Ms, Peter and I knocked it out in a morning, and he was dry the rest of the day/night. I cut my husband short when he was singing the praises of my potty-training skills and said, "It wasn't me. It was all him."
In a lot of ways, potty training is the first big step, the first time you hand over the reins of responsibility in an area over to your child and say, "Here. I know you can do it. I know you'll make mistakes but I know you've got this. It's your turn, it's your job. Go for it." My Mom always told me potty training was not really about what goes on in the bathroom at all. It's about expectation, follow through. It's about responsibility and consequences.
In giving our kids responsibilities, we give them the opportunity to discover what we knew all along. That they are capable, able, smart, sufficient. And the more they discover these abilities, their confidence grows and they are open to taking on even more. Not because they'll never fail, but because they know they have what it takes to move forward despite their failings.
It's the next day and Peter's adhering a sticker right to his forehead after doing a victory lap in his Thomas underpants around the house when I realize it - this is where I can see the joy. In parenting, these are the moments, when I help my kids reach new heights, that I realize they are growing up. Getting it. One step at a time. A wave of pride and joy, happiness and hope washes right over me.
It's not really about what goes on in the bathroom. It's about growing up. It's about becoming someone who not only thinks they can, but knows it. And for Mama, it's about realizing that these kids? They'll be just fine. Every one of them.
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